The industry is beginning to see glimmers of hope. Customers are postponing rather than cancelling, domestic destination search volumes have been increasing and government social distancing measures have been easing.
However, even when this all blows over, chances are, unless a new vaccine magically pops up out of nowhere, there is going to be a new way in which we need to operate.
Things aren’t going back to the way they were before. People will be more concerned about hygiene and social distancing. We don’t know when travel will return, but we know it will, and when it does, you want to be at the front, inspiring customer confidence. You need to be ready with social distancing and hygiene protocols to address potential customers’ newfound concerns arising from COVID.
We spoke to Taylor Boyley, Marketing & Membership Coordinator of The Bend Motorsport Park. The Bend immediately implemented changes even though the operating restrictions in South Australia were not as strict as that of other states. In fact, The Bend worked so quickly that they were able to continue operating throughout this pandemic, albeit at a reduced capacity. Through speaking with The Bend, we were able to identify 5 key areas operators can focus on when creating social distancing procedures.
They started implementing protocols that reduce contact between their customers. The first step was to reduce capacity. Traditionally, The Bend ran Track Days monthly with up to 80 participants, however, they are now running these Track Days multiple times a week with up to 10 participants. Capacity for their karting activities was also reduced to 10. They now run staggered bookings to ensure no overlap between groups.
Next, they realised that participants are used to gathering in the carpark, so to prevent those gatherings, The Bend made garage hire during track days mandatory. They also implemented Digital Driver Briefings so participants can view this as a video from home prior to arrival.
In terms of safety and hygiene, all visitors and participants are now screened and temperature checked upon arrival, using the Medescan Touchless Thermometer. Participants were also required to use their own equipment for hygiene purposes. Finally hand sanitisers were made available across the facility and participants were encouraged to use it.
If anything, The Bend just showcased how important it is to implement social distancing measures and how you can do it too.
The first thing you’ll want to look at is capacity. How can you adjust your products to ensure that your customers or participants are adequately distanced from one another? What’s the maximum capacity you can operate at while still adhering to social distancing guidelines(participants are at least 1.5m apart at all times)?
The next thing you’ll need to consider is hygiene. Ensure that supplies like hand wash and hand sanitizers are readily available for your customers throughout the activity.
You’ll also need to ensure the hygiene of your facility. Make a list of the frequently touched surfaces in your facility such as door handles, vending machines, light switches, tabletops, etc. then create a schedule to clean those surfaces on a regular basis. Minimally touched surfaces such as floor and walls should still be cleaned at least daily. If you’re based in Australia, you can find more information on cleaning guidelines from the Department of Health.
Do you serve food/ refreshments? Consider including this as a package and having it set-up prior to arrival, the last thing you want is having your food exposed to multiple guests as they order at the kiosk. Even if you don’t operate a kiosk and orders are sent directly to your guests, ordering ahead would prevent unnecessary contact between your customers and staff.
Consider your customer procedures upon arrival. Do you traditionally have a check-in counter or briefing sessions where customers may be in close contact with one another? It may be too much work to complete these procedures while isolating each individual customer. In which case, you could create new procedures such as The Bend has done where customers could watch the briefings at home prior to arrival. What about mobile check-ins, the way airlines do it- could you implement that for your business?
Many operators traditionally take bookings on the spot. This may now be the time to increase your focus on online bookings and payments, which’ll help avoid contact through cash or entering PINS on POS machines.
Gatherings are the biggest cause of transmission of COVID-19. Try and come up with a list of the areas in which people do or could potentially gather. For example, car-parks, lounges, patios, etc. then implement ways to discourage gatherings in those areas. Some examples include removing tables and chairs, taping up and blocking out the area, or even just putting up signs asking people not to gather (you’d be surprised at how effective this can be).
Consider all the equipment and/ or vehicles that are utilized in your activity. Again, make a list. Are there items that your customers might personally own? In which case, similar to The Bend, you could encourage your customers to use their own equipment. Otherwise, create a protocol to sanitise all the equipment needed. A classic example would be how supermarkets now wipedown their grocery baskets with disinfectants before and after every use. If vehicles such as buses and shuttles are involved in your activity, create a hygiene protocol for them as well.
Fill up the table below to identify your areas that need changing and steps/ procedures to improve social distancing within your business. Download the template here.
|CHANGE||What Needs Changing||Steps/ Procedures to implement|
“By keeping the doors open during this time, we will be in a good position once normality (whatever it may look like) returns.” – Taylor Boyley
The earlier you open your doors, the better the position you’ll be in once we return to normality. The earlier you implement CHANGE for social distancing, the earlier you will be able to open your doors, especially as social distancing rules begin to ease.
It’s worth noting that this need for better hygiene may become a new normal and may remain even after COVID is over. In which case, these changes shouldn’t be viewed as just a short-term investment.
“It has given us an opportunity to recognise the strength of our track days and karting experiences. As restrictions begin to ease we will be reviewing how best to build on these strengths.” – Taylor Boyley
While we fully understand how difficult it may be for many operators out there, it’s really important that we as an industry continue to stay positive and look for the opportunities hidden within this pandemic. What are the things we can control? Let’s focus on that. Because as we all know, it’s not a question of whether or not travel will bounce back, it’s when. Let’s get ready.
If you’re in South Australia, we’re open and ready to welcome you when you want to enjoy some motorsport activity, it’s a great way to de-stress and everyone walks away with a smile. We can’t wait to see the industry come back to life soon.
The Bend Motorsport Park is a 7.77 kilometre motor racing circuit at Tailem Bend, South Australia, 100 kilometres south-east of the state capital, Adelaide. The complex features a 7.77 km racing circuit, karting and drifting circuits plus offroad and 4×4 facilities.