Creative Works releases FEC COVID-19 survey results,

Creative Works has published the results of a survey conducted on FEC operators in the US and how they are adapting to changing times during COVID-19.

Family entertainment centres (FEC) have been among the hardest hit businesses: by nature, they are person-oriented, hands-on facilities that usually hold large numbers of people. As a result, they were forced to close their doors and stay closed for months.

A number of key takeaways from the survey were both surprising and encouraging to the FEC industry. Operators have been working hard to improve the cleanliness and safety of their facilities, with the goal of increasing customers’ confidence about setting foot in their building.

Reopening process has been slow
Among the 54 FECs surveyed from June 4-July 4, over half (51.9%) of facilities surveyed had NOT reopened yet. The earliest a facility opened in our survey was May 5, while the latest someone plans to open is November 1.

At this point, many operators are undoubtedly frustrated with the prolonged closures, but our data shows that they’re certainly not alone, and reopening quickly is not an option for many.
We’ve already seen multiple examples of facilities having to close again after reopening too early. The bad publicity and frustration from customers is not worth being able to open a few weeks early.

Capacity will be limited
This topic is not as surprising, as capacity will definitely be limited in almost all facilities once they reopen. In our survey, 59.3% of facilities will open at half capacity or less, and only 1.9% will open at full capacity. Additionally, 81.5% of facilities will limit the hours they are open.

Cleaning and sanitising is a top priority 
In our survey, 98.1% of facilities will be wiping down frequently touched hard surfaces several times a day, and two-thirds will be wiping down every single hour. 96.3% of facilities said they will clean and sanitise their bathrooms several times a day, and 59.3% of facilities will be doing this every hour.

As the data shows, operators are being responsible and keeping strict cleaning and sanitising routines. More importantly, operators understand that it’s all about guest perception. Guests will not feel safe unless they SEE employees cleaning and sanitising the facility during their visit. You can say and advertise that your business has strict cleaning and sanitising procedures, but guests understandably won’t feel comfortable unless they see you actively cleaning the place while they’re inside your facility.

Another trend for entertainment operators has been to make a “show” out of cleaning. This accomplishes 3 things: cleans your facility, entertains your guests, and gives them peace of mind during their visit.

To further protect everyone, most facilities are utilizing social distancing decals and face masks. One of the most surprising, but incredibly encouraging, numbers from the survey was in response to social distancing decals in facilities. Among facilities surveyed, 83.3% said that they will use the decals when they reopen.
Decals are beneficial for several reasons, and they help keep guests accountable when it comes to physical distancing. Purposely placing the decals in certain spots helps eliminate the challenges of physical distancing and prevent people from clustering up in “hot spots” throughout the facility, such as the front counter or bathrooms.

Face masks
When it comes to fask masks, the numbers are encouraging again. While public use of face masks has been difficult to attain, 74.1% will require all employees to wear face masks at all times. Only 9.3% of facilities will not require face masks for employees.

Additionally, 64.8% will do temperature checks for employees at the beginning of every shift. 92.6% of facilities will have readily available hand sanitiser locations.

Closed attractions
Not surprisingly, there will be some attractions that will remain closed for an extended time, even after a facility reopens its doors. However, the data is encouraging when it comes to facilities that plan to open with all of their attractions. Almost 75% of facilities plan on having their full attraction mix operational the day they open.

Birthday parties
Birthday parties are a staple of FEC revenue, with a lot of facilities generating half of total sales from birthday parties. 85.2% of facilities plan on hosting birthday parties within 1-3 months of opening back up. 55.6% plan on hosting them immediately.

Deals and discounts
Several respondents mentioned that they are going to pivot to more events and parties to get more people in the door. Other responses included half priced tickets, Facebook specials and coupons, summer memberships, and a customer appreciation week. Operators also mentioned discounting a percentage off everything to increase traffic, and switching from all-day passes to smaller attraction packages to increase throughput during occupancy restrictions.

Given the difficult times, a lot of the data in the survey is encouraging. Operators understand not only the importance of strict cleaning and sanitising practices, but also how these acts must be visible to gain guests’ trust. As the world continues to transition to a sense of normalcy, the focus must continue to be, more than ever, on the guest experience.

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