We can’t hide from it, the family attraction and leisure industry is heavily affected by the coronavirus pandemic.
The uncertainty around reopening is one of the biggest issues attraction owners are facing.
We’re going to address some of this unease by exploring what we’ve learnt from the response of family attraction and leisure centres in China; some of which are tentatively reopening their doors.
This Is A Marathon, Not a Sprint:
Whilst some Chinese centres are starting to reopen, things aren’t moving quickly. The return to ‘normal life’ has been gradual. The strategy of the UK government is likely to resemble the Chinese approach, staggering the revival of different parts of the economy, depending on how essential they are.
At best Chinese attractions have been considered non-essential, at worst, they’ve been considered high-risk. Meaning they’re last on the list to reopen their doors. There have also been differences in approach towards types of attractions. In states like Shanghai, outdoor attractions like theme parks have been allowed to reopen. Whereas indoor attractions, like cinemas and museums have been told to remain closed. This is due to increased chance of viral transmission at indoor venues.
This has created an incredibly difficult circumstance for indoor venues, with a slightly brighter outlook for their outdoor counterparts. But even when attractions are allowed to reopen, it’s far from business as usual.
Open for Business, But Not As We Know It:
Reopening is just one part of a longer process. For the foreseeable future, Chinese attractions are putting in place preventative measures. Prior to the UK lockdown, we saw similar measures implemented by UK attractions. Examples include:
- Mandatory Visitor Masks
- Hand Sanitising Checkpoints
- Entry Temperature Checks
- 50% Operating Capacities
- Cashless Payments
- Advance Bookings Only
Upon reopening, guaranteeing the safety of your customers will be vital. Now is the time to plan a phased opening. Which of your processes could be altered to protect your visitors?
Our friends at Roller have put together their brilliant Stop the Spread Initiative. Whilst it’s primarily for bricks and mortar retail businesses, it demonstrates how powerful their venue management system is for systematically controlling the booking, payment and signing-in process. Being industry experts, they’re the ideal people to ensure your venue has as little person to person contact as possible.
If you haven’t already, check out the initiative here.
But reopening isn’t the end of this journey. As we’ve learnt from our Chinese counterparts, reopening isn’t as permanent as we’d like.
Reopening Followed by Reclosing:
Don’t be fooled into thinking that reopening is the light at the end of the tunnel. Many Asian attractions have reopened, only to be reclosed after two weeks. The Shanghai Haichang Ocean Park is one of the more notable examples. Forced to shut just 10 days after reopening.
It’s important that we don’t consider the first round of reopening as the end of lockdown. Instead we need to consider it as one stage of a longer reopening process. We’d recommend avoiding investing too much resource into immediately reopening.
It’s up to your individual attraction to consider whether it’s better to hold-off opening, or run the risk of being closed again.
But consider this; business and marketing is about building momentum. The stop-start nature of leaving lockdown is likely to cause multiple issues. You need to be prepared for them.
The reality is; nobody knows how this is going to unfold. The ultimate effect on our industry in the longer term remains to be seen. But there are several things you can be certain about. Maintaining an open mind and planning for multiple possibilities is going to be vital for survival. We are more likely to make good decisions if we are learning from the attractions in countries that are further into their Covid-19 journeys than we are. Patience is going to be key over the coming months.
If you’re looking to add some direction to your action. Our COVID-19 marketing guide is a great place to start. It provides a step-by-step process to understand your marketing efforts and emerge from this crisis with the best marketing plan you’ve ever had. Download the guide here:
If you want a low-cost review of your previous activity, we are currently providing our full auditing service for just £49.99. The depth of insight provides a clear view of what performs, what doesn’t and where you need to invest. Book an audit here:
If you want to explore the impact on the Asian attraction industry in more detail, please visit: