South Western Federation of Museums and Art Galleries

ALVA provide latest insights into planning for re-opening and recovery for visitor attractions

Association of Leading Visitor Attractions (ALVA) has this week provided a number of insights into planning for re-opening and recovery.

These insights have been from online research in the UK (ALVA Attractions Recovery Tracker) through to learning lessons from representatives of the cultural sector around the world (learning from the World Culture Cities Forum virtual meeting, chaired by Deputy Mayor of London, Justine Simons).

Learning from some some of the most cultural cities in the world, at different stages in managing and dealing with the pandemic:

  • Amsterdam: attractions and cultural venues are staying closed until 20 May
  • Milan: national museums will reopen on May 18, bars and restaurants on June 1st
  • Shanghai: 60% of tourists are only visiting within their home city, 90% within their home province; all visitors to attractions are required to wear face masks, and to show they are 'green' (non-infected) on their health app; events in May and June have been postponed until September and October; many outdoor events are now only allowed to go ahead with just 30% capacity, so producers are putting on 2 shows a day rather than one in order to build up revenues while still adhering to social distancing guidance; schools reopen this week but universities and colleges will open in mid-May.
  • Moscow: locked-down since March 26th; museums will open first on May 11th, and then galleries and theatres
  • Edinburgh: lost the largest 11 major festivals of the summer and there is very little now planned until 2021
  • Paris: is on day 54 of lockdown and it is due to end on May 11th; all festivals and concerts have been cancelled for the summer; the city will reopen its cultural venues with its 52 libraries - a deliberately political act to underline the importance of families coming together, the importance of literacy and of libraries as essential social species; conservatoires will be next, followed by some museums, but not all.

ALVA Attractions Recovery Tracker insights

The report from ALVA seeks to 'understand how to build trust and confidence among the attractions-visiting public - helping us get back on our feet quickly but also to sustain our recovery'. Two aims are to find:

How should we physically present ourselves on re-opening to build public trust and confidence in visiting?

What communications messages should we put out there to build confidence and capture the public mood?

Key points were:

Market is highly cautious overall – waiting to see how well attractions handle the re-opening phase before committing to visits. How well we deal with fears over crowds and our ability to implement and police distancing measures on-site will determine our success.

Therefore, all attractions need to take the time to get it right:
  • Limiting numbers of visitors on-site at once
  • Be seen to be implementing and policing distancing measures on-site (not just lip-service), including toilets Consider only opening cafés and play facilities where distancing can be policed
  • Can we be more flexible on providing picnic facilities in the short term?
  • Hand sanitiser around the site and staff visibly cleaning
  • PPE is more polarising, especially if compulsory for visitors

Moving elements of the visit experience outside, where possible, will undoubtedly help generate visits – outdoor kiosks, tours or even perhaps small events.

Visitor-facing staff can have a hugely positive impact – providing a warm welcome and showing patience with visitor concerns.

Pre-visit communications with the public is vital to support on-site actions:

  • Can we use the trend for virtual online visits to demonstrate policing of distancing and other measures on-site?
  • Any messaging around creating perceptions of physical open spaces, whether outdoor or indoor

We shouldn’t assume that older visitors will take longer to return. They are amongst the keenest to come back, but perhaps need the most reassurance.

Evidence of some increased altruism in the market presents some opportunities:
  • Visitors are not expecting blanket price discounting
  • Good time for donation asks, with altruism higher among young people and families at present

Some positive Membership opportunities:
  • Current members are feeling particularly altruistic right now, again, a good time for donation asks
  • Potentially a good time for recruitment, with the public likely to remain in the UK this summer
  • Additional exclusivity benefits? Priority booking, member-only days (visit limit), member-only indoor access?

To read the full report, click here: