Re-opening your FEC after Lockdown

by | Jun 29, 2020 | Resources | 0 comments

Coronavirus has changed our environment forever, whatever sector you are in; there is a new world order.

UK government has suggested that leisure businesses are going to open during the last phase (likely phase 3) of the Lockdown exit strategy. Those businesses that can survive until then, will need to address fresh concerns from their users and fall in line with any recommended practices/advice from our government and safety professionals.

Now is the time for planning and the preparation for opening. How do we gain customer confidence back in a social and crowded environment?

Prior to this pandemic, cleanliness and friendliness were 2 fundamental components to the success of your facility and are more important than ever at these times.

This article will raise points and areas for you to explore with your management team. Doing nothing and continuing how you left off is no longer an option for the successful longevity of any leisure business.

What You Should Be Doing Now

Firstly, we recommend you do a business audit – a true reflection of how your business was performing just prior to the pandemic. Was there anything you were not happy with and needed changing? Some things to consider may include:

  • Are my activities/attractions in the right location and are they the right mix for my target market?
  • Can revenue be increased through newer or different activities versus the current offering?
  • Are there areas/activities that are dead space and/or underused, should these be replaced to provide better customer enjoyment and increased revenue?
  • Revenue – how is this split between walk ins, bookings online, parties etc.
  • Think about spend per capita, what proportion is spent on cafe/food/drink – can this be increased?
  • Average dwell time per user/family, how can you encourage your guests to stay longer?
  • What is your revenue efficiency per m2?
  • Do guests get the great customer experience you wanted them to – how can this be improved?
  • Are guests returning, what are the retention rates?

You should bear these in mind whilst reading the following points to see how they may connect and interact.

Analyse the layout of your facility and the customer journey. Bring up old footage, if necessary, to see how they move around in your facility and truly understand the behaviours of your guests from the past so you can

improve your facility and the guest experience in the future.

Social Distancing

A key factor to consider is the amount of customers you allow in at any one time – your full capacity. We believe all FEC’s will need to reduce their maximum capacity. In some cases, this may be as little as 20% and in others as much as 50%. You will need to determine what your reduced capacity should be whilst considering the commercial viability.

  •  Is your reception in a practical location? Think about how your customer interacts with this area, do you need to revise your queuing system, is it too crowded at times, is it possible to adhere to social distancing guidelines in this area? – Think about virtual queues or how guests can minimise wait times by booking online or phone; reducing clusters at your entrance.
  • Walk through the main customer routes, are there any pinch points and bottlenecks? Think of ways possible to prevent or stretch these areas out especially during peak times.
  • Can you space out attractions/activities to allow for greater distancing between guests?
  • Cafeteria seating and break out areas will need to be redesigned with tables and chairs placed further apart.
  • Explore ideas on how you could stretch out/redistribute bookings on peak days, could you offer discounts for earlier or later attendance? Could you charge more for premium peak times? Although the maximum capacity will be reduced, can you get the same numbers through the door by encouraging/incentivising users to come at different times.

With restructuring your layout, queuing system and reduced capacity, new operations will need to be thought out along with deciding on the correct number of staff per shift to run the facility. New training and responsibilities given to your staff is likely inevitable.

Screening and Personal Sanitisation

In some countries, you aren’t allowed out of the house without a mask. In stricter countries, you cannot get on a bus, enter school or a shop without having your temperature checked by an infrared thermometer or CCTV. Some office workers pass through a sanitising chamber where they are sprayed and temperature checked before entering the building.

Lady with mask on, applies hand santiser.

Considering how to screen your customers whilst ensuring they feel comfortable is extremely important.

  •  Thermal imaging cameras or infrared thermometers detect customers with high temperatures. Think about placing them at entry points/sign in/reception/waiver stations/briefing rooms.
  • Plenty of hand sanitiser stations strategically placed in your FEC (entrance, cafe etc).
  • Clearly labelled signs on entry indicating the new measures being put in place for theirs and everyone’s safety.
  • Consider whether your staff should wear PPE and to what level (masks, gloves etc)
  • Do you want customers to wear any type of PPE in your facility? If so, will you provide it or expect them to bring it with them.


  •  Devise a new strategy on house keeping. Think about when, how often and what can be done in plain sight of customers – especially in high traffic areas where items/equipment is being touched frequently.
  • Decide on what new cleaning equipment, methods and products will be needed and stock up to have readily available.
  • In some places, allow customers access to cleaning products in addition to hand sanitiser (like disinfectant wipes), especially around key areas like the cafeteria; let them feel they are in control of their environment
  • Ensure customers are aware of your new and in depth cleaning regimes – think about ways this can be displayed and communicated to your customers online and though out your facility – constantly and consistently

Communication is Key

You will need to communicate all your strategies clearly and concisely through all platforms and media both inside and outside of your facility.

Let your potential and current guests know that you are aware and pro-active in your approach to this new era, building up their confidence and trust in your company whilst reinforcing brand recognition.

It is vitally important for all staff to follow through with every action set out in your strategies. Be consistent with what you say and ensure your whole team follows that through. Mixed messaging and inconsistencies will be destructive in building customer confidence.

By communicating your strategies constantly through all platforms, you are building your brand recognition. Customers and potential customers will associate your brand as socially responsible, trustworthy and safe places to spend time in.

Final Say

This isn’t an exhaustive list of things you should be doing but rather an idea of the mindset that needs to be adopted. They are suggestions to help begin the thinking process with your team.

Every facility is unique and will employ a different range of tactics. Whether you’re a trampoline/inflatable park, bowling facility, redemption arcade, soft play centre or anything in between, you will need to show your customers that you are aware, concerned, pro active and forward thinking in making sure your facility is safe for everyone.