During these trying times, countless cultural venues have already shown incredible resilience. Yet, as lockdowns are lifting increasingly around the world, it is paramount for venues to start thinking about best practices and ways to completely overhaul their customer experience so they can safely reopen. In order to help, we have listed examples of multiple creative marketing strategies for reopening.
Let’s dive in, shall we?
Once again, companies will have to reinvent themselves and get acquainted with marketing during a crisis. Putting in place all local COVID-19 regulations and making the new rules in their venue clear to their visitors is the bare minimum. Over-communicating the new measures is essential to make the visitors feel safe and secure.
The latter might be the problem that is the hardest to navigate, as customers’ sentiments seem to be a bit scattered across the board.
Tiqets recently conducted a ‘Consumer Safety Survey’. The aim was to measure consumers’ sentiments on returning to cultural institutions. It turns out that 65% of respondents will wait a bit to go, presumably to see how venues will deal with new COVID-19 related regulations. Luckily, ‘a bit’ is not too long, as 65% of respondents are planning to visit within the first two months of reopening.
So how do you make your venue the one they choose to come to first? Let’s dive in deeper and explore some different marketing strategies for reopening.
Many venues have taken their collection digital during imposed lockdowns and reinvented (sometimes even re-awoken) their social media strategies to be able to still bring culture to people across the globe. Many venues took part in the Tiqets Culture Festival, taking their tours and exhibits online for everyone to enjoy.
Who can forget the footage of the Shedd Aquarium penguins visiting their own aquarium, or the viral posts of Tim, the Head of Security at the National Cowboy Museum in Oklahoma? He stole everyone’s hearts when he took over the social media reigns during the COVID-19 lockdown. Since Tim took over, the National Cowboy Museum has seen staggering improvements in their engagement scores, such as a 172% increase in timeline tweets and 163 average comments per tweets. For your frame of reference, this used to average 0.27 comments! His new viral status even got featured on multiple major news outlets across the United States, which makes his new-found online status only more iconic.
Courtesy of: National Cowboy Museum Instagram
These are just a few of the many examples where museums have proven that social media can be a very efficient channel to keep your customers engaged and up-to-date. Take advantage of this platform to announce your newly implemented COVID-19 safety measures.
“Trusted brands will have a head start for sure. But everyone needs to be explicit in their messaging. Attractions must continue to monitor and reflect consumer sentiment as it bends and shifts through the coming months” says Rosalind Johnson, co-founder of strategic business consulting firm ‘A Different View’.
‘Multiple ways lead to Rome’ and the ‘light-hearted whilst serious’ route is one of many. As a venue, you can also opt for a more ‘serious’ message to reassure customers that are keen to visit but still a bit on the fence if it is safe or not.
In the end, the most important thing is to make sure the customer knows what to expect. Communication of any COVID-19 measures should be clear and concise. According to a survey conducted by consulting firms Panelbase and A Different View, the need for information about social distancing and hygiene measures at a venue are considered more valuable by the customer than any implemented price discounts.
“We are up against the delicate balancing act between making our visitors feel both welcome and safe” says Amy Hollander, an exhibit designer and strategic planner with over 20 years of experience in the industry.
As proven already, it is important to have an innovative and creative approach, which sometimes means you will end up in unusual positions. A very effective way to show your customers that you take COVID-19 measures seriously is to involve senior leaders in relaying the message.
Courtesy of: Scott Stulen
For instance; Scott Stulen, CEO of Philbrook museum in Oklahoma, took the lead in reassuring his visitors of Philbrook’s COVID-19 security measures. He did this by taking door shifts welcoming back his guests at the entrance of his museum, and personally handing out free face masks.
“If people don’t feel safe they will not fully engage with the economy. There are very few businesses or nonprofits that can operate at 50% for an extended period of time. Wearing a mask will bring the economy back quicker and more completely, saving businesses, jobs and lives” according to Scott Stulen, CEO of Philbrook Museum
Reassure visitors considering booking a ticket that they have options if their situation changes later. Offering flexibility such as free cancellations or changes might reduce corona-related worries about their visit.
TeamLab, in Tokyo, did this by offering a refundable ticket if a visitor cannot come anymore because they feel unwell. Also, in their stipulations, they mention what measures they take in regards to testing visitors and staff upon entry. They even include what happens should a person that has visited the TeamLab experience turn out to be positive for Corona.
They went above and beyond, informing their guests in a clear and concise manner. Ultimately, this enabled visitors to feel comfortable, safe and able to immerse themselves in the TeamLab experience without any worries.
While international tourists will take longer to return, why not gear your museum’s marketing efforts towards your local community and take this unique opportunity to integrate even further in your neighbourhood?
“The Hallen is what makes Amsterdam Mokum (Amsterdam’s nickname). Discover your neighbourhood at 1.5m distance”.
Many organizations have already embraced this new target market.
There are a few clear takeaways here when it comes to marketing strategies for reopening. It is time to get creative, innovative and to pivot your socks off. COVID-19 has hit the tourism sector hard, but the tourism sector has already proven to be incredibly resilient.
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