We invited travel & hygiene expert Jon Peahl, president of SanSee Systems, to join us for a discussion about how to reopen intelligently. From the best cleaning chemicals to use, to training your staff how to deal with suspected COVID customers, the discussion with Peek’s Erik Hormann was full of crucial information for tour operators as they consider how to reopen their doors. You can watch that webinar recording here. Below, we’ve provided a rundown of 10 key best practices for reopening your doors, to help you get set for success.
- The most important thing you can do is let your customers know that you are open. This should be made obvious on the homepage of your website. Garibaldi Charters have got this spot on, using a large, clear banner on their website homepage.
- Include relevant info and links in a banner at the top of your homepage, such as local authority regulations and your policy or operational changes. Thomson Family Adventures are a great example of this, they have a button on their homepage which is ‘above the fold’.
- Create a FAQ page that includes relevant information regarding updated booking procedures; current business hours; contact information; and safety measures. For reference, take a look at Wild Frontiers’ FAQ page.
- Call out policy changes and new protocols in your booking flows so guests know exactly what they can expect before booking
- Email a checklist to anyone who books an experience with actions to help them practice social distancing on your tours. Ensure to include anything they may need to bring themselves, e.g. a mask, and let them know what the procedure will look like once they arrive.
- Be sure to update your automated confirmation and reminder emails with any changes or new protocols.
- Contact past customers with an email blast to let them know you are open for business and update them about how you are keeping your customers safe – this might get those who put off booking another experience reengaged.
- Put up physical signage with operational & safety guidelines so customers know exactly what to do, to keep to your regulations.
- Encourage your customers to book on their phone rather than interacting with the front desk by creating a QR code and bit.ly linking directly to your booking flow, print it out, and post it visible for your customers to see.
- The rules of the game have changed. Collaborate with your legal counsel and take a good look at the language of your waivers. Decide on a plan of action and be sure to address Covid-19 in the waiver to further protect your business.
- If you’re not sure where to start, find out how Disneyland is approaching liability language and protocols in this article.
Use custom activity questions as disclaimers
- Many operators use custom questions to work as a checkbox disclaimer, agreeing to the terms of their experiences. Configure custom questions within the booking flow to require customer agreement to adhere to your new policies – this will give you a digital record of the agreement and help ensure that everyone follows new protocol correctly.
- In Peek Pro, you can choose whether these questions are put to the customer before or after making a purchase – meaning there’s no need to disrupt the booking flow or negatively impact conversions.
Allow customers to book a tour or activity without paying upfront
- By allowing a “card on file” option rather than upfront payment, customers won’t feel “on the hook” for a reservation during periods of uncertainty. If this is a feasible option for you in terms of cash flow, providing this payment option could help drive bookings and also protect your business from refunds and chargebacks.
- This option will be particularly helpful if we see a second wave of COVID-19, and you are forced to cancel future experiences.
- Alternatively, consider using deposits. You can set up your tickets to have a non-refundable deposit to save their spot and charge the remainder at the time of the tour.
“No Show Clauses”
- One way to protect cash flow using “card on file” is to charge guests a custom amount if they don’t show up for a reservation. This will help you recoup lost revenue from no-shows and will also encourage customers to show up for their booked experience.
Limit group sizes
- As reopening restrictions may differ depending on your state/country, your company may face capacity limits based on state and federal regulations. Consider using pre-purchase ticket options to control group sizes.
- Within Peek Pro, you can do this using the Ticket Cap feature. Create preset limits on tickets for tours to ensure that all of your experiences adhere to local group gathering recommendations.
- Reference local authority restrictions on number of people allowed to gather and make this information available to your customers
Restrict groups to family / household members only
- Reduce the risk of spreading infection wherever possible by offering private tours for families or groups who already live together. Check the ‘Private Tour’ checkbox when editing an activity in Peek Pro.
- Another tip to maximize spots on a tour safely is to use private booking flow links for customers to share with friends and family in their “bubble”. On Peek, you can do this using the ‘Invite Friends Link’ which can be found in the Customer Details section of your account.
Purchasing process online
- Encourage customers to book online before coming to your business, and make it easy for them to do so.
- Leave your online booking flow open right up until your activity takes place, allowing more time to secure digital bookings for those who want to book late.
- For in-person purchases, an easy way to keep transactions contactless is to use individual invoice links to process walk-in bookings. Send the link directly to the customer’s phone and have them pay “online” on the spot – this will avoid the customer having contact with your staff and your devices.
- Implement QR codes for contactless check-ins. Peek Pro’s iOS app allows you to scan the codes from your device on the move – cutting out the need for customers to enter the office.
- Use digital waivers to eliminate the paperwork and process waivers contactlessly – this will also give you an easy-to-manage digital record of all of your customers’ waivers.
- Peek Pro’s waivers can be emailed out ahead of time, to avoid lines and limit unnecessary contact.
- For walk-ins, use an iPad to have customers sign digitally, reducing the need for staff interaction. This method also takes a photo of the customer as they sign, which can help you fight chargebacks.
Re-evaluate your cleaning schedules and practices
- Install sanitation gel and hygiene stations in high-traffic areas such as entrances and restrooms.
- Participate in contact tracing where possible; it’s recommended to reach out to your local authority to find out how best facilitate this.
- Test the temperatures of guests and staff through a protective barrier before allowing entry to buildings or closed spaces
- Mandate the use of masks and gloves for staff and guests – remember to handle masks only using the ear strings to maximize the functionality of the masks, and to dispose of or wash correctly and often.
- Implement strict sanitation procedures after each tour, and allow time in between to do so.
- Use barriers or strips of tape to create space between guests and staff, and mark appropriate standing distances.
- For further advice, have a read of these sanitizing tips produced by the CDC.
- Adjust your tour schedule to allow for sufficient cleaning time between activities.
- Use Peek Pro’s Availability Rules feature to automate this process and automatically block out time when a certain tour is booked, saving you the hassle of organizing tour times manually.
- Use Rental Buffer times to ensure you have enough time to deep clean equipment before it is taken out again. To find out how to set this up, head to the Duration section of this Helpdesk article.
- Where possible, leave 3 days between equipment use for added safety.
Obtain a safety certificate or complete a hygiene course
- Build trust with clients and boost customer confidence by showing them your business is operating safely. Third party certifications can create crucial external proof that you are operating responsibly, easing guests’ concerns.
- Display the certification on your website, in person and through your social media.
- Consider acquiring a safety certificate from SanSee, who specialize in tour and activity businesses. Jon Peahl has pulled together a team of experts, from microbiologists to layers, to determine a base level of safety for your experiences.
- Store credit is a great alternative to refunds – it ensures more money stays within your business, inspires brand loyalty and encourages customers to return in the future.
- You can also choose to easily offer additional credit to customers who have chosen to forgo a refund, to show customer appreciation.
Batch store credit tool
- Peek Pro is soon announcing a new feature that will allow you to batch convert all bookings within a chosen date range to store credit.
- This will save you a ton of time and will help reduce the risk of refunds and chargebacks in case of another wave of COVID, or any future extenuating circumstances such as bad weather.
- Offer your customers extra flexibility by sending auto-reschedule links within confirmation emails, to allow them to self-reschedule if necessary.
- Give your customers the option to purchase cancellation insurance.
- This will help negate lost revenue if customers need to cancel, and will give your bottom line a little boost if they don’t. It also provides a reasonable consequence for cancelling a reservation, which should encourage customers to stick with their booking.
- You can include this option within your booking flow using Peek Pro’s Add-On feature.
Use photos and videos on your website
- Show your new safety practices in action, using photos and videos of recent tours to gain customers’ confidence.
- For an example, have a look at Greyhound’s ‘Travel with Peace of Mind’. They have created videos clearly showing their new cleaning procedures and what customers should expect when they book with them.
- Use Peek Pro’s Reviews Widget to display recent top reviews of your tours – allowing customers to hear from previous guests all about how you have reopened safely.
- General Industry Guidelines: Health & safety guidance from US Travel
- Protecting Your Staff: OSHA – Occupational Safety and Health Act
- Cleaning and disinfecting vehicles: CDC Guidelines for keeping your vehicles clean and COVID safe
- Reopening winery tasting rooms: Guidelines from the wine institute
- Considerations for Attractions and Amusement Parks: IAAPA Guidelines