The COVID-19 pandemic and the associated lockdowns have had an outsized impact on the entertainment and leisure industry. Revenues of businesses in this industry have been impacted more severely compared to others, and some venues have even had to close.
But there is hope — venues across the globe are gradually reopening with reduced capacities and stringent safety measures. There is a new normal that the entertainment venues are adapting to. Let us take a closer look at the challenges that the venues are facing, how they are coping and what the path to recovery looks like.
Implementing Safety Measures & Securing Business Continuity
There are two key challenges that all venues are dealing with right now – the need to implement the mandatory safety measures, and second is the need to secure business continuity at a time when revenues have been significantly impacted and the path to recovery looks steep.
No doubt that some venues are doing better than others. There are venues like zoos, museums, or bowling alleys — where social distancing can be implemented more easily, and the businesses can bounce back faster compared to amusement and water parks.
Erwin Wijaya, a partner at Lembang Park and Zoo in Indonesia spoke to us about their reopening experience. “Since our venue can accommodate up to 10,000 people at a time, we have plenty of space for social distancing. However, it does get rather tricky when we hold an animal show since customers tend to crowd together. We have placed several guards across the venue to remind people to practise social distancing and we also have regular announcements via our PA system”, says Erwin. With the technology that they have in place, they have been able to fast-track the implementation of the new safety protocols and the training of their staff to reopen the venue quickly.
With the peak season of 2020 behind us and winter fast approaching, most venues are not hopeful of getting back on track till mid-2021. While many venues across North America, Europe, Middle East, and the Far East have reopened, the number of visitors to these venues have dropped, with parents being reluctant to take their kids out, which is understandable. Given the situation, cash-strapped entertainment venues are digging in for the long haul, with some businesses deciding to go into “deep hibernation” for the rest of the year and others reducing hours, cutting expenditures and downsizing the number of employees.
Adapting to the New Normal With Technology
Having said that, it’s not all doom and gloom. Technology is paving the way for entertainment venues to adapt quickly to the new normal.
We spoke to Mike Abecassis, Owner and CEO of Gametime, which is a family entertainment destination offering a full-service dining experience and full liquor sports bar across multiple locations in the United States. “I cannot imagine we would have been able to reopen if this pandemic happened 10-15 years back,” said Mike, speaking to Kim Cohen of Semnox in a recent interview. “Back then, arcades had token interactions, paper tickets and there were so many physical contact points. Today we have cashless and touchless RFID technology and self-service kiosks. Technology makes a big difference.”
The fact remains that people still want to step out and have a good time, especially in a stressful time like this. But of course, safety is their top priority, and they will go to venues where they can avoid interacting with other people and where there is minimal physical contact throughout the experience.
In countries like Singapore and Indonesia, arcades are reopening by introducing the concept of digital tickets alongside old-school paper tickets. With digital tickets, the players can transfer the points to their game card by a single tap on the game machine reader, thereby reducing the number of people queuing up at the ticket-eater machines to redeem their tickets.
Bookings and reservations are also going online, with booking portals and smartphone apps for FECs. The SmartFun app from Semnox is making it possible for FECs and arcades to engage their customers from the comfort of their home using playZone. This feature that’s included in the app is like a virtual arcade where customers can play games and earn points as if they are at the arcade itself. Some venues like museums and art galleries are creating virtual tours that guests can take using an app or website. The intention here is to ensure guest engagement and brand recall at a time when it is more important than ever.
Entertainment Is An Integral Part Of Any Society
In places like India, entertainment venues — both indoor or outdoor — are yet to reopen and industry experts are concerned.
Speaking to Semnox, Ashwin Dange, the Southern Region Chairman of the Indian Association Of Amusement Parks And Industries (IAAPI) said, “The extended lockdowns will have a short to medium-term impact on the growth of the industry. In these uncertain times, stakeholders in the amusement sector in India have postponed planned projects or shelved them all together.” But Ashwin has not lost hope. “I believe that entertainment is an integral part of any society,” he adds. “The amusement industry is here to stay. This is but a hiccup in our journey. In the end, those destinations that can implement and, more importantly, communicate safety will bounce back faster.”
The shift in the focus of the industry has moved to touchless technology, cashless transactions, and a stronger focus on hygiene and safety.
We at Semnox are doing our part — our technology solutions are helping our clients implement social distancing with simplified online bookings and seamless entry management that are cutting down on queues and eliminating overcrowding. Our technology is also making it easier for entertainment venues to implement minimum-contact guidelines effectively.
If you are a business looking at reopening your venue at the earliest, while ensuring the safety of your staff and guests, then reach out to a Semnox representative right away. We will answer your questions on how Semnox’s Parafait can help you bounce back — email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call us.