As we head into a period of phased reopening of attractions in the UK, the industry is wondering whether guests are ready to visit again after COVID-19, and if not, what will encourage them?

by Rosalind Johnson, A Different View

A Different View, in association with Panelbase, conducted an e-survey with over 1,000 previous visitors of attractions between 6 – 7 June 2020. The report, which can be downloaded here, looks at two main areas. Firstly, the appetite to return to physical experiences (by type of attraction). And secondly, what information visitors need to be enticed to visit attractions again after COVID-19.

A day out at Twycross Zoo Visit attractions after COVID

A day out at Twycross Zoo before the pandemic

As with previous sentiment surveys we’ve seen and undertaken in April and May, it is not surprising to find that the natural environment, gardens and outdoor heritage are the first places people want to visit ‘as soon as I can’. But there are worrying signs for theatres, live music venues and festivals. This is because the research shows that between 25% to 28% responders felt they’d wait for a vaccine before heading back.

A post-COVID-19 return to attractions

The report also highlights significant variances in age, gender and life stage. These will be particularly important to marketers over the summer. For instance, those aged 55+ are least likely to visit any type of attraction immediately after COVID-19 and more likely to wait and see how things work out or wait until a vaccine is available.

In terms of life stage, families (with children under 16) will be more cautious than independent adults to get out and visit attractions straight away.

Independent adults are far more likely than families to head back to theme parks and zoos.

There are some interesting specific stats for marketers to grab hold of within the report. For instance, independent adults are far more likely than families to head back to theme parks and zoos.

We also looked at associated experiences, leisure, shopping and entertainment to give a broader understanding of what people are looking to do. Not surprisingly, cafes, pubs and restaurants with outdoor seating get a big thumbs up. Conversely, cinemas and pubs without a beer garden are going to find it hard to bring many people back.

Information is key

The survey asked visitors to say what information they want on an attraction’s website to give them the confidence to visit again after COVID-19.

Safety, in terms of social distancing and hygiene, is by far the driver here rather than price discounts. Specifically, visitors want to know what the new experience will look like for them. For instance, the measures being taken for safety, how numbers are limited and how an attraction will operate their toilets.

outdoor seating cafe

Cafes, pubs and restaurants with outdoor seating get a big thumbs up

In other words, leave nothing to chance. Explain everything, both on your website and in your marketing. This will give guests confidence that this is an experience that they will want to have.

The photo at the top of this blog from Berlina Ensemble was included in our research. We asked visitors whether they’d be prepared to visit a venue if social distancing looked like this. 37% said they’d need to know much more about the experience they are going to have before going back.

Strong messaging

This feels like a significant point at the moment. Operators will have to work hard to describe their new experience and safety measures to encourage people to visit attractions after COVID-19.

Trusted brands will have a head start for sure. But everyone needs to be explicit in their messaging. Attractions must continue to monitor and reflect consumer sentiment as it bends and shifts through the coming months.