5 Tips for Communicating You Are Open
Letting people know you’ve reopened—and getting them to come back through your doors—is a pressing matter these days. How do attractions spread the news that they’re back and better than ever successfully? Here are five ways to engage future guests and existing fans:
Make Guests Feel Safe About Coming Back
The public has been inundated with messages telling them to stay home out of an abundance of caution. To encourage guests to return, associated promotional messages must make them feel safe about coming back.
Zoo Atlanta’s reopening messages achieved this by emphasizing “that the reopening process was something that had been planned for several weeks, (and had been) very meticulously by numerous departmental stakeholders at the Zoo, with numerous factors under consideration,” says Zoo Atlanta Director of Communications Rachel Davis. “The safety of our visitors, Zoo team members, and animals is our number one priority, always, and this is never compromised. We communicated that very actively as well.”
The reopened Boing Fun Center in Oviedo, Florida, used the same “Safety First” messaging strategy to good effect. “We just wanted guests to know that we were going to make sure this is a safe place, where it’s clean, where they don't have to feel scared and that they would have a good time here,” says Boing Fun Center Manager Lexi Groenink.
Reinforce the Message With the Facts
Telling consumers their safety comes first is a good first step. The second step is spelling out everything being done to keep guests safe. You can never be too specific. This includes details about new sanitizing routines, changes in the facility’s layout and operations to enable social distancing, and the wearing of masks by staff (and patrons as well, if applicable). Such details reinforce the credibility of the “Safety First” reopening message.
Pflugerville’s Spare Time Texas bowling center/family entertainment center (FEC) has been very specific about the steps it’s taking to combat COVID-19. “We let guests know about the new social distancing/sanitization procedures we have put in place” says Spare Time Texas Sales Associate Jizelle Jaramillo. “We also highlight the fact that we’ve gone cashless to eliminate the need to exchange currency, and that our team members are all screened for COVID-19 symptoms and temperature checked before starting their shifts.”
Now is the time to put out your best social media efforts. The more impressive a reopening message is crafted, the more likely it is to be taken seriously by guests.
This is why the Grand Station Entertainment in College Station, Texas, posted a professionally-produced Facebook video to herald the reopening of its bowling alley. Narrated by Grand Station General Manager Scott Logan, the video states “every effort has been made to provide a fun and safe environment for you and your family. Safety guidelines have been met, and our team is ready to roll.” According to Logan, “The response to the video has been quite positive.”
Use Every Channel Possible to Communicate Your Message
Even the most effectively planned reopening message won’t deliver results unless people receive it. This is why smaller attractions need to use every media channel available to get their reopening messages across. “When we announced that Zoo Atlanta was reopening, we communicated to all of the traditional media outlets with which we usually communicate, so this included digital, TV, print, and radio,” says Davis. “In our case, all of these channels covered our plans to reopen.”
This was just the beginning: Zoo Atlanta also posted its reopening message on its website and the zoo’s various social media outlets. As well, “We used our bi-weekly e-newsletter and our monthly member newsletter to communicate these updates to our subscribers,” says Davis. “In addition, we also communicated with state, county, and local government and with our community partners.”
Repeat/Reinforce Your Message and Listen
The concerns associated with COVID-19 won’t disappear any time soon. This is why attractions who have successfully communicated their “Safety First” reopening messages should repeat/reinforce those messages after a few weeks have gone by, so these reassurances continue to reach the public.
It is also vital to remain frank with customers about what’s being done to ensure their safety, and to respond positively to any concerns and ideas they may have. “If we just listen to each other and help each other out, then we can get through this rough time as one,” says Jaramillo. Doing so will help customers feel safe about coming back to their favorite attractions.