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Remember the celebrations a few months ago when we all welcomed the new decade? 2020 was 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 ​it may be, don't fret because 'this too shall pass.'

The world, especially the leisure industry, will not go back to the old day to day activities. We cannot deny that even with the lockdowns lifted at different times in different parts of the world, we are witnessing restrictions on businesses in the leisure industry. Keeping in mind the impact 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 analyze this situation from both perspectives - the consumers and the venue's perspective.

As restrictions are lifted, we see people naturally wanting to step out again but not without a second thought. They may want to visit zoos and museums to bring some normalcy back into their lives. Or they want to go to theme parks, to not miss out on rather simple luxuries. One thing is clear; people will more easily consider such activities if they know venues are in full control regarding physical safety. 

Thus, they are in search of enhanced sanitation and managerial control. 

Once they arrive at an attraction, visitors will need to know that they will be safe. That could mean not buying tickets by forming queues, but rather booking tickets online and knowing beforehand all the measures the venues take to avoid overcrowding popular spots.

Cleanliness has always been expected from theme parks, especially waterparks, but this will now become a priority for people of all age groups. Requiring basic health check-ups may also become a routine procedure before allowing people to enter.

"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. On it are points such as the lower frequency at which rides operate to sanitize the rides between uses, in accordance with government prescribed rules. 

Considering gyms, they are institutions that have a lot of equipment being handled by many people. To reopen gyms, the industry will need even more extensive sanitizing protocols in place to support gym-members as well as trainers.

Confined at home, people accelerated at using social media apps. Facebook, for one, has seen a huge spike in traffic during the pandemic. If your brand is not already online, then now is the time to enter the digital space. 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 drop-in visitors. You also combat overcrowding by giving people the option to reserve slots, thereby giving you more control over the number of people you have in your venue at a time. It would be best if you also considered a similar solution to avoid crowding at the parking lot.


"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 organizing 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.

We see, reopening any venue or leisure business requires a significant amount of planning. We cannot forget how digital tools have been saviors in these tough times. Therefore it is pertinent to stay one step ahead by using more digital tools to ensure both - the safety of your customers and the smooth functioning of your businesses. It is true, the coming months bring somewhat more stability but still inhabit certain degrees 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 starting a 'new normal.'.

 

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