The way that attractions operate is undoubtedly going to have to change as the industry begins to move forward from the COVID-19 crisis. To win back the trust of guests, visitor attractions will need to show that health and safety is a top priority, demonstrating a commitment to the highest levels of hygiene throughout their venues.
Embed, a leading worldwide supplier of point-of-sale and revenue management systems, has announced several new initiatives throughout the pandemic in order to support the operators of FECs and other visitor attractions. Now, it has announced a brand new product: Embed Hygiene Defence. Blooloop spoke to CEO Renee Welsh to find out more.
COVID-19 and the FEC sector
COVID-19 has had a huge impact on the FEC sector across the globe. It has forced venues to close their doors for long periods, affecting revenue.
“It’s unequivocal that the COVID-19 pandemic impacted the industry, with the ongoing closure of venues and new operating models that operators will need to adopt,” says Welsh.
“For anyone left jaded by the wrath of this pandemic, take comfort in the certainty that history has a way of repeating itself. After catastrophic events, including pandemics, world wars, and natural disasters, people want to join the masses in celebration. They seek out sensation and spectacle by enjoying food and beverage, hospitality, leisure and dancing.”
“The only question that remains: will they choose to go to your venue? At Embed, we want to do our part to support our customers.
“So, we thought long and hard on what would be the most powerful demonstration of our commitment to our customers and our industry’s recovery. We came up with new initiatives every single month since the pandemic was declared.”
The importance of hygiene in attractions
Since the pandemic began, experts have been clear about the importance of good hygiene in tackling the virus. According to a recent study, it can live on surfaces for up to four hours on copper, up to 24 hours on cardboard, and up to two to three days on plastic and stainless steel.
Therefore, health agencies around the world, such as the CDC, recommend frequent cleaning of surfaces to stop the spread of the virus.
This means that visitors to attractions are now more aware of hygiene than ever before. How operators respond to the need for stricter cleaning routines will affect the consumer decisions on whether or not to visit a venue, says Welsh:
“Studies have shown that a new type of customer is emerging from this pandemic. After a long lock-down period a surge of consumers is emerging. But they are only taking their families to businesses they perceive as safe.
“They will be more conscious of hygiene, price and social distancing than ever before. We’ve seen this around the world with our customers, as businesses reopen, and potentially close again as a second wave hits.”
Embed Hygiene Defence
Embed’s new line of Hygiene Defence products is designed to help attractions operators to keep their venues clean in a safe and non-toxic way. This will enable them to reassure visitors that they are not being exposed to harmful chemicals.
“Embed Hygiene Defence products are stronger than harsh industrial cleaners without the toxic health risks,” says Welsh.
“They kill 99.9% of a broad spectrum of pathogens, including COVID-19, on contact. The product tackles airborne bacteria, viruses, fungi spores and mould. Plus, it purifies the operation: from airborne defence to all surface areas.”
“Independently tested by Eurofins, a TGA licensed laboratory, UNSW and Chemsil Pty Ltd., every Embed Hygiene Defence product is formulated with a proprietary mix of 100% Australian Natural Active ingredients consisting of organic certified biodegradable steam-distilled essential oils.
“Made-to-last for 4-hours on surface areas (airborne defence 24/7 protection over 30 days), the Embed Hygiene Defence product line-up is the absolute game-changer. It provides the best, uncompromised protection to the industry’s employees and guests.
“We did this for one reason. We knew the industry worked diligently to elevate their cleaning protocols with stricter hygiene standards, cleaning more and more often. They were using harsh industrial cleaners, with the honest good intention of keeping their venue safe.
“This accelerated cleaning pace results in an alarming exposure of dangerous chemicals to families. The list of health hazards is worrisome. Not to mention the fact that these cleaners are ethanol-based. They can be highly flammable, and corrosive to expensive games and furniture.”
Cleaning products with a difference
People are more concerned than ever with the green credentials of the products that we use. In fact, the global green cleaning products market accounted for $3.9 billion in 2019. It is estimated to reach $11.6 billion by 2029.
Embed Hygiene Defence boasts the same kill rate for pathogens and bacteria as the traditional harsh chemicals. However, unlike these toxic options, Hygiene Defence contains natural ingredients such as organic certified biodegradable steam-distilled oils. These are kinder both to the skin and to the planet.
The water-based products are water-based rather than ethanol-based, meaning that they are not flammable. This also means that they are not corrosive. So attractions aren’t risking damage to expensive equipment due to the new hygiene requirements.
The non-toxic and environmentally-friendly line of Hygiene Defence products is sure to help families feel reassured as they begin to plan days out to FECs once again.
“Our products are designed to be more effective than industrial cleaners while being family-friendly,” says Welsh. “They are suitable for all environments, including the kitchen because they are not flammable. It’s 100% natural active essential oils, biodegradable, so it is safe for the environment and that just feels good!”
Building trust in a family-friendly industry
Attractions will have spent a lot of time planning their updated safety and hygiene routines in the wake of the pandemic. While the method is important, deciding what product to use is also a key decision, says Welsh:
“It is imperative for operators to know what’s in their cleaning products! They are so dangerous that their business could go up in flames. And they expose families to toxic endocrine-disrupting chemicals. These are responsible for everything from cancer to autoimmune diseases.
“Our industry is family-friendly and our cleaning products need to be family-friendly.”
To help operators show their commitment to non-toxic and thorough cleaning procedures, Embed has also produced a range of marketing materials. These will show that venues are making health and safety a priority.
“For anyone who purchased Embed Hygiene Defence products, they can also download free creative assets. They can use these to communicate, create awareness, and market the non-toxic safety measures they are taking in their elevated cleaning standards to truly deliver safe and clean fun for the entire family, in a non-toxic family-friendly environment.”
Embed Hygiene Defence addresses the ‘new normal’ for the attractions industry
Embed is well known for its innovative technical solutions, such as the Mobile Wallet, Wearable Media and TOOLKIT. Developing a hygiene product for the attractions industry may seem like a departure from the norm. However, Welsh explains why the move made perfect sense for a company that puts the needs of its customers first:
“Embed has always been about technology innovation. We will work with the most apt partners who share the same commitment to the evolution of our industry. So it made perfect sense for us to develop products that are stronger than harsh industrial cleaners without the toxicity.”
“Embed Hygiene Defence protection is what our industry most needs now. We are helping our industry partners to address the new normal way of life. And we are going the social distance with them to get through this together.”
Moving forward from the pandemic
The attractions industry is well placed to recover from the impacts of COVID-19, says Welsh. Provided it is prepared to adapt to the needs of guests as they regain the confidence to visit venues.
“It’s all about the low-touch economy. People don’t want to touch cash, coins, papers, anything that transmits viruses. More people are embracing contactless payment technology and getting used to paying that way, so consumer behaviour is permanently changing.”
“Consumers want to book easily, pay online and play safely without standing in line. In the modern world, people are using their mobile phones to shop, order and pay for everything. This is not debatable consumer behaviour – a basic google search demonstrates the dramatic spike in mobile payments across all industries.”
Contactless solutions provide good hygiene for attractions after COVID-19
“No one wants to handle cash or even use a pin pad credit card reader,” says Welsh. “Contactless everything is the way to go. Guests should be able to book and pay online for their scheduled time-slots, knowing capacity management ensures safe social distancing.
“Minimal contact between staff, guests and equipment is achievable with contactless card readers. This is because there are no tokens, coins or tickets. For instance, visitors can use their virtual game card in the Mobile Wallet for contactless gameplay, reloading any time anywhere.”
“Consumers will expect to be able to book a timeslot, for go-karts or laser tag for instance, and receive a scannable barcode to use when they arrive for their allocated and prepaid timeslot.
“And this is where Embed’s technology stack comes into play to support FECs. Which is why we are giving the Mobile Wallet, the only mobile wallet solution in the industry, away for free.”
Embed supports the industry
Given the scale of the COVID-19 pandemic, many in the attractions industry were forced to adapt their ways of working. A wide range of suppliers and manufacturers pivoted in order to provide support and help operators weather the storm.
Embed has been working to support its clients, colleagues and friends from the start, huddling with others in the industry and spotlighting insights from those on the inside through EmbedLIVE. In March, the company published a free insights paper. This marked the start of a wider support package being made available, says Welsh:
“In April, we implemented Embed’s COVID-19 Relief Act. We are giving our latest award-winning innovation, the Mobile Wallet to everyone for free for 1-year.”
“Embed is the only FEC business solutions provider to partner with Google and Apple to gain compliance approval. This breakthrough makes Embed the only non-banking finance -payment or loyalty card business and brand card that sits in the mobile wallet. There’s no app download required, so guests add the virtual game card to their Mobile Wallet and play.
“Then, in May, we launched COVID-19 Resource Center. This includes free creative toolkits to facilitate a successful reopening and expedite your businesses recovery. Following this, we have been working hard on the development and launch of Embed Hygiene Defence.
The future of the sector
The sector undoubtedly faces several challenges as it begins to recover from the prolonged closure of entertainment venues. However, many in the industry are confident that it will bounce back.
Several studies and surveys have looked at consumer opinions as attractions begin to reopen. And it is clear that visitors do have an appetite to return. For instance, Six Flags surveyed its passholders and found that 80% said they would visit in 2020 – if the theme parks implemented appropriate health and safety measures.
Similarly, BVA-BDRC, a consumer insight consultancy, found that four of the most important factors in giving guests the confidence to return to visitor attractions in the US and the UK are: the presence of sanitizing hand gel, enhanced cleaning of public areas, reduced capacity and social distancing measures being enforced.
Amongst the questions on a survey conducted by Amusement Advantage was one asking guests how likely they are to visit an attraction in the next three months. Among those who were least likely to return soon, fear of inadequate sanitation procedures was a key point raised.
So, customers will be keen to seek out fun experiences and return to their favourite venues. Provided they can see that it is safe to do so.
“We have a rare opportunity to reinvent, redesign and rewrite the future of our exciting industry,” concludes Welsh. “Embed will go the social distance with our industry and emerge with a better, stronger business for the consumer who awaits. We’ll get through this together.”