Around the globe, many attractions are experiencing enforced closures and widespread disruption as the world tackles the Coronavirus pandemic. However, there are some attractions that are still able to open and operate, at least for the time being. There are even those such as Shanghai Haichang Ocean Park and over 180 museums in China who are now starting to re-open again.
Regardless of your strategy and the rapidly evolving situation, effective communication will be more important than ever to ensure guests are kept up to date. However, for those attractions who are remaining open, it will be particularly essential to ensure your communication strategy helps ensure guests feel both reassured to plan a visit and keeps them safe whilst they’re on-site.
Here are our top tips for communicating with guests if you’re open during this challenging time:
If you’re able to open, it’s likely you’ll have made some changes to your safety regulations - for instance reducing visitor numbers, implementing social distancing measures, or only taking cashless payments. It’s important that guests understand what’s required of them to ensure your safety measures are upheld and effective in protecting everyone on-site.
Demonstrating to your guests that you’re in control and top of things will also help reassure them that they’re in safe hands and that their health and safety is a top priority.
We’re all facing sudden and very drastic changes to our everyday lives, so it’s only natural that we’ll all be feeling more a lot more anxious. Familiarity and normality can be a great source of comfort.
Your communications shouldn’t all be about COVID-19, it’s important to maintain a regular cadence for your everyday messages too. Keep your audience up-to-date on what they can look forward to when they visit, offer fun as well as support, like this great example from Yorkshire Wildlife Park. It can be hard to strike the right balance with the tone and frequency of your communications during a crisis, but radio silence will only increase concern and unease.
That said, be sure to check through any messages you may have scheduled, whether that be automated emails, social media posts and ads or in-app notifications. Some of these messages may no longer be accurate, or worst still could be considered tone-deaf in light of the current situation.
Circumstances are changing almost on an hourly basis, so as developments unfold, attractions need to have action plans in place to ensure they can respond quickly, but also be able to communicate these measures quickly and clearly to guests.
Showing that you’re in control of the situation and prepared to react quickly can make a huge difference to guest perceptions of your brand in a positive way. As well as reassuring guests of their immediate safety and wellbeing, it’s also an opportunity to build positive brand association, loyalty and trust longer term by demonstrating professionalism and agility.
Channels such as your website, social media and email are valuable tools for keeping guests up-to-date with the latest developments, particularly if they have a visit planned. However, real-time updates can be particularly useful whilst guests are on-site with you, especially if quick action is needed.
If your attraction has a mobile app, you can use push notifications to trigger updates specifically to on-site guests where you may need a higher frequency of communication compared to your wider database. If you do have a mobile app, you can take a look at our advice on keeping guests informed.
In addition, regular staff briefings and keeping any digital signage up-to-date can really help ensure the latest information is relayed to your guests as promptly as possible.
At this stage, the situation is all still very uncertain, so whilst we will need to wait and see what the impact will be in the short, medium and long term, there are things we can do in the meantime.
For those who are open, maximising visitation and spend, where safe, is essential — using your comms to build trust and reassurance.
For everyone else, be sure to keep in touch with your audience (like this great example of courtesy of Shedd Aquarium’s free-roaming penguins) and use the time to devise a communication plan ready for when you’re able to re-open again.
If you need any guidance formulating your communication plans, don’t hesitate to get in touch, our team are here to share ideas and help out however we can.