How will consumers react to the lifting of coronavirus-related restrictions? And what kind of conditions will governments impose on destinations and leisure attractions as countries emerge from the shadow of Covid-19?
Nobody can know precisely. A series of consumer snapshots about the effects of the coronavirus by global consultants McKinsey, indicates discretionary spending will be hit in the aftermath of lockdown.
Expenditure on entertainment outside the home is almost universally expected to decline compared with the period before the virus pandemic.
McKinsey, has however, found the Chinese public to be more optimistic which is where the destinations sector is picking up again under new, self-imposed constraints.
In China, citizens are emerging from their homes but with mask-wearing, gloves and goggles the norm for many.
Shanghai Disneyland is reopening and Fantawild has reopened its parks, reportedly capping footfall to 30 per cent of capacity in order to reduce crowds.
Measures adopted include temperature checks on guests, who must provide ID. Social distancing is policed, rides only have passengers every other row, and catering outlets use single use utensils.
It’s clear that similar measures are being considered in the US, where a leaked survey appears to show Universal also considering temperature checks, virtual queues, removal of self-service food options and so on.
Universal is rightly concerned about how potential visitors would react to the imposition of these measures.
There are some certainties, however. When guests return to parks and casinos, every interaction will have to be as low-touch as possible.
Contactless payments will be required, and we may see the end of the queue, as operators invest in apps and smart ticketing.
These not only eliminate physical contact, but enable guests to select timed slots for rides, order ahead for food and beverages and plan their visit in advance.
Operators will need the technology to provide seamless low-touch or no-touch access to experiences, which will also empower them to manage demand.
In fact, destinations need to anticipate the relaxation of lockdown measures now. They must re-engage with existing customers and put together enticing deals and customisable entitlements packages that address the new realities.
Engagement with consumers must begin across every channel and be completely consistent and transparent. Discounts, memberships, rewards, meal deals – they all have to be bundled into new offers and promotions.
Maximising engagement at such a difficult time and on such a scale is only possible through a platform such as Omnico Commerce.
This analyses the past histories of each guest across all interactions and correlates them with current activity to create heavily personalized offers.
New customers are instantly recognised and made an offer that scores a direct hit.
Despite all the uncertainty, we know consumers will want to bust out of coronavirus confinement to enjoy themselves again.
But they will be looking for a combination of value and reassurance. Reassurance that they are getting good value, that they will have a good time and that they will be safe.
It will take the right offers and discounts and the right on-site technology to give them the reassurance they seek.