Amusement facilities all over the world are no doubt feeling the impact of COVID-19 in their communities.
Now, more than ever, it’s important for your business to do what it can to be a pillar of comfort and joy in the community. But times of uncertainty often leave us feeling out of control, which can lead to rash decisions and panic.
Here are a few tips to help you weather the current – or any – storm and minimize impact on your business.
#1. Stay calm.
We understand that it’s hard to stay calm when you’re worried about your business, but panic tends to make stressful situations worse.
One of the best ways to regain control is to create an action plan for the immediate, short and long term. This will help you consider best and worst-case scenarios so you can feel more prepared. If you’re feeling anxious or overwhelmed in the moment, stress relieving practices such as short walks, deep breathing, meditation or prayer can help clear your mind so you can remain productive.
#2. Stay informed.
There’s a lot of misinformation out there, so it’s best to get your information directly from official websites, like your (U.S.) state’s department of health or the US Center for Disease Control. These organizations also have social media pages you can follow and share updates on your pages to keep your audience informed with the right information.
Remember that our industry has many resources to help you, so be sure you’re following @IAAPAHQ on social media and routinely referring back to their growing list of resources. They’re hosting webinars, providing letters to policymakers and getting the word out on issues important to our industry.
#3. Take care of your family, team and community.
The most important thing in a time like this is your family and team’s safety and health. You are irreplaceable. As you know, proper hygiene and disinfectant measures, social distancing and heightened health-monitoring are all important steps to ensure that we, along with those around us, can remain as safe and as healthy as possible.
And then there are ways you can take care of your community.
If you have to close or shorten hours and you find yourself with a surplus of perishable foods that will go to waste if not used, consider donating to a local food bank or to first responders in your area.
Recently, for example, Nashville had severe tornadoes rip through the area. Several local restaurants provided hot meals for volunteers, police and other first responders, as well as local food banks and assistance organizations.
Your ability to do this likely depends on your state’s rules, so be sure to find out if and how you can donate perishable food items. But it’s a great way for your businesses to continue to bring people together, if you can’t in person at your facility. An added bonus is that those donations are tax deductible, which can help ease the financial tax burden on you in the future.
#4. Be as flexible as you can.
Loss of party and group revenue during this time is inevitable. You have to make decisions based on what’s best for your business and your guests. Handle party cancelations and deposit refund requests delicately so that your guests want to return.
We asked Birthday University Founder and party expert, Frank Price, for a few suggestions for handling cancelations when your deposit or payment policy is nonrefundable. He advises that you consider one or more of the following:
- Offer to reschedule the event without penalty or forfeiture.
- Offer a gift card for equal or in excess of (e.g. 1.5 times or double) the original amount for use anywhere in your facility. If a birthday party cancels, they may not plan another party this year, so consider extending your expiration date to at least two years to provide a better guest experience.
- If those offers don’t satisfy your guest and you’re able to give a monetary refund, it’s a good idea to do so. In the long run, failure to provide a refund under these extenuating circumstances can negatively impact your brand if guests feel like you were unsympathetic.
#5. Understand that you’re not alone.
You know the expression, “it takes a village?”
This industry is that village.
We are all in this together. Stay connected to your local community through email and social media so they feel your strength during this uncertain time. Of course, keep your audience informed of the cleanliness measures you’re taking, how you’re responding to the crisis and what your plans for operating hours and closures may be.
Consider additional unique ways to engage with your audience, such as offering livestream classes, sending personal notes from your mascot to kids missing out on birthday parties, and posting virtual tours of your facility.
Our friends at FunLand of Fredericksburg shared some great tips to help their local community keep boredom at bay during the next few weeks. Messages like these can go a long way to connecting with your audience, ensuring that they’re eager to return as soon as possible.
Remember, our entire industry is experiencing many of the same issues, so it’s a good idea to remain open to sharing questions, challenges and ideas with other industry partners. There are operator-driven groups dedicated to helping each other on Facebook such as FEC Operators and All Clear – a Private Learning Community for Attraction Operators with hundreds of industry members sharing and leaning on each other.
We’re hard at work brainstorming ways you can work on your business so that when this crisis lifts, you’ll be more ready than ever to welcome your guests back.
Stay safe, stay tuned, and please let us know if there’s anything your friends at CenterEdge can do to help.