What can attractions do to entice visitors back this spring?By Hannah Smith
The countdown is on until our favourite attractions can reopen, and although some of us will flood back to them, others will understandably remain hesitant. With 32 million people set to receive their first vaccination by 15th April, and government guidance allowing the reopening of outdoor attractions from 12th April, there is hope that visitors will be ready to return to attractions by spring. Our latest ClearSight report mirrors this, showing that visitors are feeling the most optimistic about the future than at any time since the start of the pandemic.
In this report, we can also see that when it comes to visiting leisure attractions, the ‘comfort gap’ relative to pre-COVID times is as narrow as it has been since mid-October. This is highly encouraging as visitors are beginning to feel more comfortable with the idea of visiting ‘outdoor’ attractions such as castles, zoos and gardens. And although there is significant progress for ‘indoor’ attractions, there is still work to be done to entice us back. With museums, cinemas and theatres set to reopen on 17th May, it is imperative that they demonstrate to their visitors what they have done or what they are going to do to protect them from COVID.
Our research also indicates that more than half of us (57%) still have at least one reservation about visiting our favourite attractions. Therefore, it is paramount that attractions show visitors the measures they are planning to put in place to keep them safe. In a recent survey we asked respondents what would encourage them to return to attractions:
So what measures have attractions put in place to make visitors feel COVID secure this spring? We’ve taken a look at some of the market leaders to see how they are communicating their changes to potential visitors.
Cineworld outlines its planned safety measures for reopening on its website. Seating maps have been updated, which involves leaving empty seats between visitor parties and reducing the capacity of each screen. The company is encouraging visitors to pre-book their tickets online or via their app in advance, however, they are working hard to maintain high cleaning standards to allow ticket sales to still be made at their venues.
Thorpe Park have introduced a new pre-booking system to manage visitor numbers and monitor party sizes to help reduce visitor flow around the park. They have also developed ways to maintain social distancing on its rides by leaving alternate seats and carriages empty, to minimise contact with other visitors.
Alongside the measures already highlighted, the zoo’s staff are receiving daily health checks, wearing the correct PPE and are undergoing COVID-secure safety training. Additional hand sanitiser is available for visitors and increased cleaning will be undertaken throughout the zoo, including key areas such as in the toilets and food outlets.
Even with reopening, visitor numbers will still be lower than previous levels, therefore, attractions need to continue to look for new forms of engagement and diversify their offering. The Science Museum has added 100,000 photos of its collections to its website which visitors are able to explore virtually. The Beamish Museum has continued to engage with visitors whilst closed by running online workshops, postal activity boxes and offering afternoon tea home deliveries. Attractions that can offer new forms of digital engagement may help those visitors who aren’t quite comfortable visiting in-person at this time. My colleague, Tanya, took a more detailed look at some of the resources that attractions are making available online in a recent blog.
It’s critical for attractions to invest in hygiene measures to ensure visitors feel safe, and by doing so, create positive and memorable moments. Our 'EPIC' Framework helps us to identify what matters the most for the customer and how you can keep getting it right to create genuine and long-lasting connections. Keep an eye out for our next blog which will cover this in more detail.
In the meantime, if you want to find out more, take a look at our latest ClearSight report, here.