17th June 2020
‘Insufficient guidance to reopen safely’ say 7 in 10 tourism professionals
Culture and tourism professionals revealed this week that they have not received sufficient guidance on how to safely reopen to visitors after lockdown. The poll of 154 professionals from tourist attractions and heritage sites found that 71% were not satisfied that they had received the necessary information from local or central government on how best to safely reopen to visitors. This comes as lockdown measures are being eased and attractions prepare to open their doors to visitors in July.
The stark finding was revealed in an ATS Heritage-led webinar entitled ‘Reopening to Visitors: Safely and Smartly’, which featured contributions from Scott Craddock from Westminster Abbey and Faye Kelly from Hever Castle. Among the subjects explored was the impact of social distancing on visitor numbers, visitor flow, managing a food and beverage operation safely, the role that technology can play and the ongoing question of how to manage visitor toilets in the era of social distancing.
In the meantime, here are some of the tips shared in the webinar, which could help to form part of your own strategy to reopen safely and smartly to visitors this Summer:
Minimising unnecessary contact with surfaces has never been more important and there are some simple steps you can take to give visitors greater confidence and peace of mind:
- Online pre-booked ticketing eliminates the need for queuing on-site and reduces contact between visitors and staff members
- Switch to card payments only, where possible, across your attraction
- Open all doors through the potential visitor route
- Have clear signage around your food and beverage offering to discourage touching
- Consider removing physical interactives that would need regular cleaning
Lead the Way
Many sites will have had a linear visitor route in place for years and will recognise the benefits. But for many, this is a new way of presenting themselves to visitors. A few simple steps will ensure that visitors are able to flow through the experience safely and with confidence:
- Clear signage is useful to indicate the route to take and gives visitors a point of reference to move from one space to the next
- We’re increasingly seeing the introduction of floor arrows at 2 metres apart. It is worth considering the permanency of such arrows, should the social distancing rules be revised down from 2 metres
Take a Hand from Tech
Technology can be a powerful tool when it comes to clearly communicating consistent messages. Ensuring that all your visitors feel safe and comfortable can be achieved by:
- Introducing (or updating) your welcome video. This can be displayed as a pre-visit experience at home, on a large screen on arrival or through a multimedia guide. This is your opportunity to reassure visitors about your cleaning routine and the additional steps you’ve taken to ensure they have a safe and enjoyable experience
- An audio or multimedia guide is shown to greatly influence visitor flow. Perhaps certain sections of your site are off limits while social distancing is in place. These ‘stops’ can simply be removed until things change. The language used in an audio guide can also be used to encourage visitors on to the next stop and keeps your visitors flowing through.
Know Your Team
While many of us have been separated these past few months, we have learned to communicate in ways unfamiliar to us. It has been wonderful to hear stories of different organisations engaging with their staff ahead of them returning to work, such as at Westminster Abbey where Scott Craddock did a Back To Work questionnaire for his staff and volunteers. The survey inquired as to staff members health, whether they or their families were vulnerable, as well as their potential commute. This allowed them to better plan who to bring back and when. A simple survey can go a long way to showing that you care.
In the absence of any formal guidance, it has been heartening to hear the stories of how so many in our sector have been reaching out to their peers for advice. Sharing best practice and learning from each other’s successes and challenges may be key to surviving and thriving in these unprecedented times.
If you are interested in future webinars, sessions and workshops please sign up here to be notified.