COVID-19 has touched virtually every aspect of our lives for months, and until the recently developed vaccine has been rolled out on a grand scale, precautions surrounding the virus are likely to stay in place to some degree.
One of the most common ways that people have been mitigating the effects of lockdowns and social restrictions is by staying active and participating in recreational activities. However, this industry was not immune to various shutdowns and limitations, forcing many recreational facilities to either close temporarily or heavily adjust their offerings.
Regardless of how your facility has been affected by the pandemic, the way in which you manage the hurdles and connect with your members during this time is what they will remember once life returns to normal. While the pandemic is by no means a recent occurrence, learning from the past year and adjusting your practices to accommodate your customers better in 2021 is key.
Here are a few of the most common concerns members may have surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic in relation to their recreational memberships, and how you can react to them in order to provide a positive and memorable customer experience.
Communicate COVID-19 Updates
As the saying goes, “the only constant is change”. This sentiment has proven to ring very true during the pandemic, as restrictions and protocols change seemingly by the hour while public health officials closely monitor the situation.
If your facility has been subject to the frequently shifting mandates and recommendations set forth by your local governments, these changes are also going to inevitably affect your customers. Communicating these updates effectively to your members as they happen is important: being kept in the know is a way for people to find peace amidst the chaos.
PLAY’s marketing suite can help you to communicate effectively with your members in a timely manner. Posting bulletins on your website or sending out crafted email marketing materials to your customers to communicate changes that may affect them demonstrates empathy and camaraderie. Letting your members know that you are acknowledging and monitoring the ongoing situation rather than keeping them in the dark is a necessary action.
One of the most popular COVID pivots was giving traditionally in-person events a virtual makeover and offering them online. Even if a facility has taken all of the proper steps to ensure safety and cleanliness, not wanting to leave one’s home to reduce risk is a popular choice. Obviously, some activities simply must be conducted in person – but if you are able to offer classes virtually, it is a great way to show your willingness to adapt. Regardless of whether member turnout is not as high as you may hope, the gesture will go a long way.
Managing your members, classes and facilities is also made much easier with the right management software solutions. Univerus PLAY has developed one of the most innovative, user-friendly and perhaps most importantly, cost-effective, systems on the market today – find out more about our solutions by clicking here.
Following COVID-19 Recommendations
If facilities have remained open, they have had to make some adjustments, including making space to socially distance, hosting classes outside when possible, and ensuring access to personal protective equipment. In addition to providing spaces that allow members to follow basic COVID-19 guidelines, facilities also have the power to go the extra mile in ways that members will remember.
The Centers for Disease Control has an extensive list of recommendations that individuals should be looking for if they choose to visit a recreational facility. Making sure yours not only provides and enforces these measures, but that this information is readily accessible (either on your website or physically posted around the facility) is a sure fire way to demonstrate that you are taking the protocols seriously and value the safety of your client base.
Membership Fees & Refunds
One of the most devastating side-effects of the outbreak was the economic blow hundreds of thousands of businesses have experienced. By now, it is more than likely that many of your facility’s offerings have been reduced or cancelled, or membership has dropped in an understandable response to fears about the pandemic.
As unfortunate as a drop in attendance – and subsequent cash flow – can be, now may not be the most opportune time to enforce cancellation or no-refund policies. These are unprecedented times, and being unaccommodating in your practices is likely to be remembered long after the pandemic has subsided. If you are not in a position to offer full refunds to your members, which many customers should understand, offering alternatives such as transferable membership fees or redeemable vouchers are suitable options. At the very least, outline your amended membership policies and make them very clear on your website, so your customers are aware of them.
This pandemic has taken a toll on just about everyone, rearing its head mentally, physically and financially. Showing compassion and flexibility in any way possible is something that your members will not only appreciate, but are likely to communicate to their networks, showcasing your facility in a positive light. We are all in this together!
Univerus PLAY is dedicated to providing our customers with the tools to manage their organizations with ease. Contact us today to learn more about our innovative and affordable membership management software, available for both public and private operations.