It’s time to open for business! Or almost time. Or it was time and now it’s on pause for a bit. It’s complicated out there!
When we talk about safety guidelines the emphasis is usually on what you’re doing to keep guests safe. But a big part of a safety protocol is also keeping your guides and employees safe! Whatever your circumstances, you could benefit from some new or additional safety guidelines. We’ve written before about guidelines from various organizations and what they mean for you. You have a lot of options for who to trust. Now let’s talk a little more about what you should do with those guidelines. It’s no use to have them if they’re not used or no one knows what they are or where to find them on your site. So how can you make guidelines clear, show that you’re keeping staff and customers safe, make it plain to see that you’re not joking around about it, but do it in a clear and concise way that doesn’t turn people away from your tour business or activity center?
State Terms and Conditions
People can’t follow your rules if you don’t give them your rules. Putting together clear terms and conditions helps your customers to know what to expect. They’ll know what they need to do and that you’re taking things seriously. These are both important considerations when choosing a tour company!
Yes, we all know someone (ahem, me) who clicks the box that says she has read all of the terms and conditions without actually reading them. That doesn’t really matter though. You can’t control how well someone reads, or digests, those terms and conditions. The important thing is just to have them. That way when someone arrives without a mask and you send them away without a refund you can say “you agreed to this in our terms and conditions.” As another way to prevent this potential uncomfortable interaction, consider including your “guest requirements” as part of a confirmation or reminder email.
You can find examples to use as a template online. Check out what one of our clients added to their website. You’ll have to click to expand their COVID-19 policy, but it’s a good one, worth the (minimal) effort, and adding your own gives you something you can direct guests towards to read.
Get Signed Waivers
Going along with terms and conditions, give your customers a waiver to sign. It gives more weight to those terms and conditions that you wrote – and to any actions you need to take against people who ignore them. Additionally it shows your employees that you’re also looking out for and are ready to defend their health and wellbeing.
There are templates for waivers online. You could download something and print it out for people to sign. Or you could use Wherewolf. They’re contactless and they store your waiver information for you. Their Lite option is free so there is no excuse for not using a waiver. Learn more about Wherewolf or sign up for a demo.
Back Up Your Guides
Tour guides are on the front lines for enforcing safety regulations with customers. As the front line, they likely have their own concerns. No matter what you put in place, it’s useless without your guides insisting that those rules are followed. They need to know that you are serious about it. Those rules mean nothing if you throw them out the first time a customer complains about wearing a mask.
Trust your guides with enforcement. No guide wants to kick someone off a tour, so be on their side if they say someone shouldn’t be allowed to travel with you. This will really go a long way toward showing your guides that you don’t just care about money and staying in business, you value their safety too. And those rule-following customers will appreciate it as well. They may even appreciate it in the form of good reviews and recommendations. But even if you don’t, you’ll know you’ve done the right thing and you’ll be building another layer of loyalty with your guides.
Bluntly: it’s better to lose a good review than a guide. And let’s be honest, someone risking the lives of your staff and customers was never going to leave you a good review anyway.
Reduce Group Sizes
You simply can’t have the numbers you had last year. Filling a van with 10 strangers on a wine tour just isn’t possible for the time being. Not only is it tricky given our lowered tourist numbers, it’s also impossible with social distancing. So lean into it. Advertise your tour as being safe for individuals due to smaller group sizes and distancing measures. Start offering more private tours. It’s better to have a few customers than none.
I can’t present you with an exact science on how pricing should work for this. Do you charge more because it’s now more elite? Less because you need those bodies in seats? The same to split the difference? I really couldn’t say. But I do know that it’s all in the marketing. Whatever you decide to do, stand by it. If you charge double to recoup costs, really sell that elite status in your marketing. Show someone lounging in their own row in the van and share photos of the vineyard scenery at sunset. Be deliberate and show people what they should expect.
Implement Safety Measures
Operating with fewer customers can certainly help make your tours safer for customers and guides. But don’t stop there! You can also add some safety measures. Things like handing out hand sanitizer or putting up partitions. Create an open dialogue where your guides can raise concerns, relay observations, and make suggestions as your business picks up. A happy and comfortable guide means one less thing for them to worry about so that they can use that energy on creating the best experience possible for your guests.
Many of these measures are for the safety of your guides more so than the safety of your customers. That doesn’t make them less important, and may even make them more important. Your guides are what keep your business going. Keep them happy and healthy and they’ll keep you in business.
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