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14/07/2020

What a COVID return looks like in the leisure industry

 

Just over a week ago the holiday resort welcomed back caravan owners and holiday guests to the new normal.

 

So how did it go?

The time planning assisted greatly you can never start the process too soon. One challenge is the range of guidance and frequent updates to ensure you are using the latest version. Lots of team meetings and training to get our team up to speed and feeling re-assured that there are procedures in place for their safety.

Communicating to our guests to play their part is a huge part and a partnership to ensure our team and other guests remain safe. A new app has been created for our holiday guests to obtain all the info needed whilst on Resort and to prevent visiting reception. This is saving the printing of around 2000 what’s on guides each week which is a good step towards environment credentials. The BBC One Show shared our journey as we adjusted to the new normal.

 

We have had to assess our complete business from a COVID perspective for both our team and guest safety revolving around the reduction in guest contact. Things like check-in without visiting reception, a new text service where guests can ask questions or report issues for a quick turnaround. This has made us utilise technology that existed in current systems or new systems altogether. Restaurants turned into takeaways with online ordering and guest meet and greet now done by a pre-recorded video. Increasing the cleaning of high touchpoints, the purchase of 3 fogging machines for sanitising areas quickly is all-new practices introduced.

 

Fortunately we now currently have over 3/4 of our team return to work from furlough status for the Summer period. Some areas do remain closed under government instruction, some areas are operating on a reduced scale and some areas opening soon such as our waterpark and gym. Operationally some areas are quieter than expected and others busier as visitor confidence starts to re-build. It is very clear however our business and finances are very different to that pre-COVID. We have had to assess departments for cost efficiencies to protect the business in the long run. The road to recovery has started but it will take a long time.

 

A staggered return has allowed us to ensure the new processes work as planned and adjust if needed to then be used as a template for other areas when they open.

 

Visitors seem pleased to return and in the main are playing their part through social distancing, one way systems and hand sanisting. We need this to continue for everyone's safety.

 

The future

Summer will soon be over and with the intention for all children to return to school will be mean we have 7 weeks of trading for the whole season. Like all leisure and hospitality businesses, this is the worry and whilst we remain open in some areas during the Winter our Winter and event bookings are simply not there. We are very grateful for all the government schemes we have been able to benefit from. Our business is a family business where all the income is re-invested back in. If the income is not there the re-investment will happen over a greater period. Our last area that currently has no planned opening nor does it appear to be on the radar of the government is our soft play attraction Brean Play. Sadly at least 20 soft plays across the UK have closed for good in the last 7 days. We are lucky that it sits alongside the rest of our business and we have re-deployed may team members to other areas but would like a guideline as to when this can be expected. We also have a brand new ninja course at a cost of £40,000 that had never had a visitor on it.

 

It's fair to say it's an amazing feeling to be back open and welcoming guests. It has certainly put a smile on everyone's face, both team members and guests

 

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