Can you believe that this crazy year has almost come to an end? I can still remember the celebrations when we were all welcoming the new decade. 2020 was going to be the year of attending music concerts at the Ziggo Dome and trying the Rox Flyer at Plopsaland! The expected heatwaves, coupled with multiple holidays approaching us, were placing high hopes on leisure venue owners for a great season. Who would have imagined that it was going to be the year of staying indoors instead? As much as a cliché as it may be, don't fret because 'this too shall pass'.
However, the world, and more specifically the leisure industry, is not going back to its good ol’ days, at least not yet. We can't deny that even with lockdowns being gradually lifted here and there around the globe, the leisure industry is still suffering restrictions and limitations on businesses for a second time around. Keeping in mind the impact that this may have, venues are heavily preparing for what is going to be considered 'the new normal' moving forward.
For the leisure industry, let us analyse this situation from both perspectives - the consumers and the venue's perspective.
Along with more optimistic previsions of restrictions soon being lifted again, we are seeing people naturally wanting to ‘get out there’ again, but not without a second thought. They may want to visit zoos and museums to bring some normalcy back into their lives, but one thing is clear; people will more carefully consider such activities and will definitely think twice before purchasing tickets in fear of losing money in case things don't go as expected.
Because let's admit that, with the level of uncertainty these days, one can never be sure.
For this reason, you need to find ways of keeping up your ticket sales and making sure people will feel safe enough to visit your venue once you reopen.
Check the related read “3 ideas to keep your leisure venue’s cash flow running during lockdown” and find out about some easy-to-implement ideas that will help you encourage immediate bookings.
On the other hand, take into account that customers are now in constant search of enhanced sanitation and managerial control. They will need to know that they will be risk-free once they are back in your premises. Let them know all the measures that will be implemented in your venue to avoid overcrowding and unsafe situations.
If you're not sure about the measures that you should be taking, here’s how you can avoid overcrowding at your venue.
Cleanliness has always been expected from theme parks indeed, but this will now become a necessary priority. Demanding basic health check-ups may also become a routine procedure before allowing people to enter through your gates.
"Just as we now do bag checks for everybody who goes into our parks, it could be that at some point we add a component of that, which takes people's temperatures, for instance."- Bob Iger
For theme parks, the list of appropriate hygiene measures is long, containing points such as having a lower frequency at which rides operate in order to sanitise these between uses, in accordance with government prescribed rules.
Due to the different restrictions and due to the decrease of social activities and plans, the growth of social media apps usage has accelerated. Facebook, for one, has seen a huge spike in traffic during this pandemic.
If your brand is not already online, then now is the time to enter the digital landscape. Digital channels will enable you to have an easy and clear medium to help get the word out about your safety plan. This could work wonders for rebuilding trust and credibility in the minds of your target audience because there is no fun without trust.
Use such platforms to inform your visitors about the changes you will make to the frequency of rides in a theme park. For instance: having fewer people on rides and your general social distancing and hygiene measures.
Looking at current developments, you should move your ticketing system entirely online to ensure you will be ready to sell when the time comes and continuously avoid unpredictable drop-in visitors. You can also combat overcrowding by giving people the option to reserve time-slots, thereby giving you more control over who comes when into your venue. It would be best if you also considered a similar solution to avoid crowding at the parking lot.
Related read: Why time-slots are here to stay for the leisure industry
"NL Actief, the trade association for gyms, has also submitted a draft protocol. Members will have to reserve a time block in which they can come to train."
In a hopefully not too far post-coronavirus world, people may keep refraining from being in places that are too crowded. And so, they may be willing to pay premium prices for booking an indoor playground, or for organising a private visit to the museum.
On the business' side, ticketing systems will need to be equipped for handling such demands without the need for human intervention. You may also want to opt for a ticketing solution that predicts the willingness to pay and automatically adjusts your prices in accordance with the demand.
You see, reopening any leisure venue or attraction requires a significant amount of planning and forward-thinking, and in these ever-changing times we shouldn't forget that digital tools are being true life-savers helping venues stay flexible and adaptable. Therefore, it is pertinent to stay one step ahead by using more digital tools to ensure both – that you keep generating income and that you safeguard the safety of your customers once they are back.
Hopefully, you will be planning the reopening of your venue in no time, but at the time being, we still inhabit a fair amount of uncertainty. By being prepared, you can ensure that your venue is up and running at the first opportunity you get.
After all, each and every one of us is looking forward to a more stable and predictable 'new normal', aren't we?