Lessons learned: how leisure venues resume operations
Recently wondered what's going in China or the rest of the world amidst the COVID 19 outbreak? As Europe is full-on facing the Pandemic right now, what has been going on in China moved to the back-end of our news reporting.
That is, despite the fact that we can learn quite a bit from their approach and patterns. After all, they are two months ahead of the world.
We are actually fortunate to adopt practices they had to discover through trial and, sadly also, errors, such as social distancing, lockdowns, and self-quarantine.
As the situation evolves across Asia, Europe, and basically around the entire world, practices, however, will have varying executions and, with time, become more and more concrete. This is why we are compiling a complete cheat sheet for you, which continuously updates the variety of practices that we encounter and believe will be a necessity moving forward
Best practices: China
Once China reported zero new cases, businesses resumed to operating across all industries. But not without repercussions. Although multiple venues had to close again due to too much simultaneous traffic, they are now slowly and carefully opening up again.
Here are the measures China's leisure industry is taking as businesses resume operation:
- Continued Social Distancing: Leisure venues in China have set a rule of social distancing of at least 1.5 meters from each person to limit any risks. Additionally, many parks limit their capacity by about 50%.
- Employee Drills before opening: Venues scheduled a week or two to educate employees on health practices and emergency scenarios for operations to run smoothly.
- Adapting to a minimal risk environment: Continued closure of crowded events such as group/guided tours, restaurants, and animal shows. This way, parks can focus on operations where they can avoid non-essential contact measures most efficiently.
- Prioritising online bookings: With everyone being forced to move online for quite some time, businesses start to make use of the opportunities caused by new traffic on the website. They are focusing on optimising online booking systems, selling directly from the website, and letting customers depend on the website for future visits. This also includes advertising for upcoming events and informative content dissemination.
- Implement contactless services where it is feasible: Many parks move operations of the business to become as contactless as possible to eliminate any chance of bacteria spread.
- Temperature management and Quarantine zones: Monitoring visitors' temperature upon entry and having quarantine zones to place suspected infected people while contacting local disease control.
- Disinfection kiosks: Making sanitising a priority around the venue will minimise the chance of spreading bacteria and contributes to a safe environment for visitors and employees.
- Pre-packaged food and bottled water: continuously providing food and beverages while limiting the chance for bacteria to spread can be done by serving freshly pre-packaged goods.
All of these measures are not only necessary to reopen safely but also to reassure your visitors that they will be safe when visiting you. You need to ensure them that they can enjoy their time with you without fear. And that is something everyone will most likely appreciate these days.
One thing is clear, once we arrive at a similar point compared to China's current situation, many measures need to be taken to regain your visitors' trust and loyalty, but also to survive in the new environment of the leisure industry.
So, here is a penny for your thoughts:
Are you ready for what is to come?
Best practices: Social distancing and its different touchpoints
We have touched upon social distancing before, but as this challenge has many different aspects and literally unwanted touchpoints, it is one of the most difficult to tackle.
The following 4 are thus, vital tools in doing so:
- Capacity limits: By limiting your capacity, you can do a big step towards preventing overcrowding.
Many parks which are reopening in Asia, as well as planned openings in Europe, set limits around ⅓ of their total capacity.
For the Chinese wall, a sight experiencing an average of 10,000 people per day before COVID-19, authorities decided to limit attendance to 30%.
- Reservation in advance: Now, attractions, theme parks, or historical sights need to know who, how many, and when they are coming. Many venues do this by demanding online reservations for every visit and banning drop-in visits for good.
- Time slots: Using defined time slots spread over the day of the week is a practice many attractions already deploy for years to manage visitor distribution and maximise sales.
Now it is also a vital tool that gives you deep insights into your expected visitor numbers.
What could be better than preparing for the actual scenario instead of a what-if situation? Even venues who did not use this method previously now split their days into two slots (e.g., 9:00 AM to 3:00 PM and 4 PM- 10 PM). This does not only allow more people to visit without compromising their safety, but it also compensates loss for the venues.
- ID checks and documentary collection: In China, venues made it mandatory for visitors to show their ID when entering. This way, they have an overview of their visitors at all times.
Further, they use health QR codes with different colours to determine the visitors' health status and travel history. These codes can be scanned by authorities to view their information.
This method might seem drastic and invading the private sphere of an individual, but even in Germany and the Netherlands authorities talk about slightly comparable applications to track the public.
However, in Europe, this needs to comply with the General Data Protection Regulation and is, therefore, still at the very early stages. It is the authorities' task now to see if this kind of data sharing is feasible and vital or not.
Let us ask you this:
Are you ready for a 1.5-meter economy?
Your current systems are probably not.
Convious Crowd Control offers the solution for the leisure industry. Deployed worldwide, our platform is used by more than 100 leisure venues to facilitate smart visitor spread and management.
Use our reservation tool to ensure you always follow regulations and avoid unsafe surprises. Let our smart booking software automate your capacity planning based on time slots and plan efficiently as our advanced AI-technology determines expected visitor numbers.
In-venue experience measures
As time proceeds, so does the repertoire of practices different venues around the globe are employing. We have come across a few more fairly simple but important measures to manage and facilitate a responsible and safe in-venue experience to your visitor.
- Proactive communication: Tell your visitors what they expect from a visit to your venue and be entirely true to your words. From several somewhat limited reopenings in China, we can follow that visitors rather hear the truth implicating some limitations but securing safety than being disappointed afterward about how limited their visit might be. This will not only build trust and give evident reassurance, but it will also manage your visitor's expectations appropriately.
- Implement virtual queues: To reduce the chances of having actual queues in front of individual attractions venues in Asia, and Europe are currently implementing advanced technologies to implement virtual queues. Such queues can be visible and entered via a mobile application on a visitor's phone and on screens located in-venue.
- Ride time slots: Connected to virtual queues, booking exact spots or time slots for individual attractions at a venue also avoid long queues and unsafe crowds.
- Differing walking routes: A possibility for venues of all kinds is designing a set of walking routes and giving out these maps to visitors to ensure those who enter next will walk different paths.
With geolocation technology such as heatmaps and mobile applications, other venues even digitalise this process and update their visitor's maps in real-time or use the data to optimise with every single day and every visitor walking through their venue.
- Outdoor only: In Asia, but also the reopening plans in Germany as well as other European countries, the governments advise to have inside attractions but also indoor cues closed as of further notice is largely adhered to.
What should not be left out of sight is that there are several measures a venue should be taking before the visitor enters to maximise the success of all in-venue measures. Check out our last update for more information.
Brief but relevant - a couple of rather obvious points that should not be forgotten:
- Remove turn bars as they place unnecessary touchpoints.
- Don't close rows.
- Remove seats to simplify social distancing more intuitively.
- Avoid mascots and meet-and-greets.
- Use visual markers to enforce spacing - tapes, stickers, etc.
- Modify or reconsider delaying attractions using VR headsets, 3D glasses, helmets, or other gear that needs additional sanitation to be secure.