2020 has been a year of change for everyone around the globe, forcing us all to adjust our way of life and reinvent ourselves. Some people have taken up new hobbies, like baking, knitting, or spending more time with family. Others have created personal goals to complete during their downtime. The focus on every business owner's mind is how to save their business and restore their pre-COVID glory.
While the family entertainment industry's overall foundation has remained, many components of the business operations and service offerings will need to be reevaluated upon return. A new type of guest is emerging from the pandemic lockdown, and the success of any FEC relies on their ability to show how their business has adapted and reinvented themselves based on the new guidelines.
Although each business model is unique, there are some key strategies centered around hygiene, safety, and communication that any FEC should use to move toward a successful and safe reopening.
- Reimagine Your FEC: Before the pandemic, most FEC's laid out their location in a way that allowed for max capacity of attractions and games. Now, operators need to take a second look at their arcade layout to offer a safe physical distance between guests. By placing signage on games you turned off, you are showing guests you are following safety guidelines.
It's also be important to review current offerings to decide what should stay or go. For example, in today's world, a ball pit might not be the safest or most lucrative attraction, but an outdoor putt-putt course might bring a new wave of guests (and source of revenue) to your site.
- Focus on Low Touch Experiences: In the past, FEC's centered their family experience on high touch areas. Attractions like laser tag, bowling, and arcade games require players to touch and interact with objects such as bowling balls, guns, and joysticks to connect with the games. While FEC's will never eliminate the hands-on environment entirely, each operator must investigate ways to reduce exposure in high-touch areas. Something as simple as changing to ccontactless gameplay and payment transactions can significantly reduce exposure throughout your entire location.
- Make A Cleaning Schedule: While cleaning has always been a component in maintaining an FEC, any location's future success will now mandate cleaning practices to be at the forefront of all business operations. Based on the offerings at your facility, the areas cleaned may be a little different, but the main rule to live by is "the highest traffic areas and the things used most in your facility need to be cleaned the most often." The type of cleaners used will also affect how often you need to clean. For example, ethanol-based disinfectants have a high flash-rate, rendering ineffective after 3-5 minutes.
- Know the Ingredients in the Cleaning Products You Are Using: Unless you're using all-natural alternatives proven to kill the germs, the toxic cleaning agents you're using can potentially be harmful to those using them, especially when exposed to greater quantities for longer periods. With new cleaning guidelines, many FEC's are implementing a more rigorous and accelerated cleaning schedule, which puts your staff and guests at risk. Using non-toxic cleaning sprays, free of parabens or phosphates, can provide a longer-lasting, safer alternative for you, your employees, and your community.
- Educate Your Employees: Change is hard for anyone, but you will see it with your employees and your customers. You may have people on your staff who have worked at your FEC for years and take pride in knowing how your location operates. Many team members will come back to find a different environment than they left, and it can make even the most loyal staff feel uneasy.
The best way to combat uncertainty is to provide information. Explain to your team what changes have taken place and why your location has to operate that way moving forward. Many changes (like new cleaning practices and wearing protective equipment) is for your team's and consumers' safety and overall success of the business. The more you can keep your staff informed and part of the solution, the more likely they will jump on board and support the new path for your FEC.
- Educate Your Guests: The guests entering your facility in the next six months are loyal to the industry and have the most significant potential for returning business. To drive return visits and word-of-mouth advocacy, you must show guests all the processes and guidelines your location is implementing to ensure a safe, clean, and fun experience. The easiest way to communicate these steps is by placing "reopening instructions" signage through your FEC. This signage can include new cleaning practices, new attractions and offerings, new check-in procedures, managing social distancing, hand sanitation stations, hand-washing reminders, and monitoring occupancy levels.
- Be Patient & Empathetic: No matter how much you plan or prepare, there are always challenges (some things go right, others go wrong). Guests will arrive without masks, and staff will forget the new guidelines, and you may realise you need more processes to ensure safety.
With everything going on in the world, FEC's are a way to escape the personal struggles of everyday life for guests and another place to call home for staff members. Things will not be perfect, but the important thing is to give everyone a little grace while remaining steadfast in your commitment to your staff and guests' safety and health.
Each state and country are in different phases of reopening, and every day we are hit with different rules and regulations that we can't control. The one thing we control is our mindset, how we respond, our attitude, and the resiliency we demonstrate in the current situation.
At Embed, we offer multiple solutions that can help you launch a successful reopening. From contactless gameplay options to free creative toolkits that help communicate (via signage and more) the measures you are taking. Our latest offering is the Embed Hygiene Defence product line that provides the best uncompromised, non-toxic cleaning and purifying protection to the industry's employees and guests, safe for families and society's most vulnerable: children and the elderly. It's longer-lasting and more effective. Your employees, guests and community will thank you for it.