By Vanessa Fagard on 11/22/20 12:05 PM
COVID-19 is forcing all of us to react in a prompt and responsible manner. No matter which industry or which company, we all continue to experience the impacts as the virus keeps being a justified headline to every news channel.
But how can you react if you don't clearly know what to react to?
The media is full of information about the humanitarian and economic impacts in all areas, including the travel, leisure and hospitality industry.
While we believe it is smart to leave it up to the experts in each field to talk about how this impacts health and economic measures, we have summed up a couple of points that might help your venue to react in a reasonable and effective manner.
We now know, it is time to prepare yourself for multiple scenarios - and although we are aware that business in 2020 and 2021 will be different, by thinking ahead we can still do a great deal to minimize its losses.
Below, we used insights about practices we saw to be working for our partners within the leisure industry who have done a great job in handling the current situation responsibly with an eye on the long-term.
React accordingly to COVID-19's second wave - here is some actionable advice:1. Cancellations
If you are part of the leisure industry you have, just as we did, experienced this a lot lately. Probably ‘CANCELLED Event’ could be the top phrase of 2020 right there next to ‘you are on mute.’ Thus, cancellations seem to be a pressing topic to handle. However, it is essential to acknowledge that a lot of your events and bookings are only momentarily cancelled, meaning that in many cases they can and should be rescheduled.
- Your task is to make it as easy as possible for your customers to reschedule with you. We recommend enabling a self-service rescheduling feature in your online ticket shop.
They booked with you for a reason, they were excited to come to you, and they will appreciate it if you enable them to postpone this enjoyment until they feel more secure again.
- Make it possible to buy undated tickets and make upfront reservations mandatory. This will give your customers a sense of security and control over their visits, despite possible developments.
In addition, let's not forget that cancelling offline, doesn't necessarily mean that you cannot still connect online. For example, here at Convious we were 100% prepared for this year's ITB back in March; we had a stand, we had some networking meetings scheduled, and even some talks we wanted to attend.
What did we do when the ITB was canceled? We created a digital booth and rescheduled our meetings; many of which took place online. The ITB itself also started gathering and creating digital on-demand and live keynotes and discussions for everyone to tune into online.
Moving forward, 2020 was marked by creative ways on how to handle cancellations and limited access - also in leisure!
2. Panic & Hysteria
As the World Health Organization officially declared COVID-19 as a pandemic, the rising numbers of infected people and the growing number of lost lives are creating panic. And it seems like the media only contributes to spreading this hysteria.
We therefore highly advise you to read up on this topic on a reliable source to not buy into the artificially created hysteria of some unreliable channels and poorly founded word-of-mouth out there. At the bottom of this blog post, you will find a list of sources we recommend.
As for actors within the leisure industry, expert statements such as the virus possibly being “the worst travel crisis since the September 11 terrorist attacks,” and the apparent financial repercussions are starting to shake the ground we are standing on - but try to keep your feet steady!
We are not giving up just yet. Yes, indeed, we are all facing another extended period of 'slowing down', and some venues might have to stay closed longer than expected, but we will help each other speed up again once the conditions allow it.
- Build trust. We can't stress this one enough. Trust will be a valuable currency moving forward, and you better be wealthy if you want to get through this second wave of the virus!
As this is such a fundamental topic, we have dedicated an entire blog post to it and highly recommend you to hop on to this related read: No fun without trust: How to regain trust upon your venue reopening.
- Don’t forget that there are people on the other side of the spectrum.
Also see that there are other mindsets, such as “It is a bad virus, I understand that! I will be cautious, but I will not stop living my life because of it.” And thanks to implemented measures, this lifestyle, if not in lockdown, can be considered safe.
- Care for those who have concerns - secure them, take their worries by responding to their questions. This as well, is closely connected to building vital trust. Concerns should be taken seriously at all times. Show them that you acknowledge them by responding to questions and inquiries.
Try to portray a realistic picture of what it is really like at your venue - most likely, they fear the chances of getting ill. This way, you might be able to turn around that concerned perception they have created out of worry. One way to do that is by providing them with facts on the current situation at your venue, and clear standpoints on how you handle and incorporate precaution measures.
- Take measures to avoid unnecessary crowds and gatherings at your venue the best way possible and clearly communicate that with your customers. A good tool here is managing visitor spread to ensure your venue is not as crowded anymore.
As an example, you can set lower maximum capacity limits, use times lots, or upfront check-ins! Or why not take advantage of an easy-to-implement mobile app that allows you to send push notifications to your visitors?
Show you take all of their concerns seriously and try your best to ensure their safety at all times. If they see that visiting your venue does not involve getting lost in a sea of people - it will reduce their concerns and fears on whether to come or not.
3. Unusual requests
Insecurity and maybe even fear causes customers to request information and actions of you that might not be within your daily practice.
- Be open, be ready, and most of all, be adaptable.
This counts for your communication and for your practices - use your contingency plans, but also train your employees to act responsibly in non-expected situations. Accept that you might have to move away from formerly successful procedures and make space for reactive actions.
- In the spirit of adaptability: Consider a Cancel for Any Reason (CFAR) policy. We know that adding this policy might only add extra insecurity to your business operations at first glance. But try to see it from a different perspective - people want to book with you for the future but are worried about getting ill, or losing money if they can’t go in the end.
If they see they can cancel in case of emergency or an unexpected event - they will still book because they have a guarantee. If the situation gets worse or develops unexpectedly, they will most likely cancel. And yes, in that case, you might lose some revenue, but you don’t have to lose a customer.
On the other hand, if someone who wants to book but is worried about the developments, sees that there is no way to cancel with you, they will probably not book at all - leaving one single scenario: no new customer = no revenue. Do you see the difference?
And not to forget: There is always many different ways and chances to engage a customer in rescheduling before the final cancellation!
- Be flexible in pricing options.
This one will give some security to not only your customers in having the opportunity to get different deals, but it will also allow you to redistribute sales based on your current situation and help out with the capacity limit we mentioned before.
How can you do that successfully without crunching numbers all night and day? The answer is dynamic pricing. Dynamic pricing reacts to any changes in demand or market conditions, and there are many forms this pricing strategy can take - starting from the most simplistic to highly advanced.
What it all comes down to
One theme that seems to be recurrent time and time again is this: even if it is difficult, keep your calm, stay updated, and be ready for changes, but do not fear them.
Yes, the COVID-19 will most likely continue to have economic and societal impacts and change the way leisure operates within the following months and even years. But if we act on facts now and work together we will surely adapt and find a way forward.
As a company with close partnerships within the world of leisure, carrying a deep passion for this industry, we feel it is our responsibility to do what we can to help to minimize the impacts and losses of our partners, the industry, and society in general.
You probably have thought about how to reopen your venue in the foreseeable future, right?
As your current systems are not made to solve problems coming with new rules and regulations properly, you will need advanced tools to avoid unsafe situations that could lead to brand image damage, fines, or even closure as a consequence.