COVID-19 & Florida Tourism’s Road to Recovery

COVID-19 & Florida Tourism’s Road to Recovery

As we saw in part one of this blog series, the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has been destructive on nearly every level of society. One of the industries hit hardest has been the recreation, tourism, and entertainment sector. Across the state of Florida, some of the most vital economic drivers have seen their doors shut and their staff furloughed, leaving many to wonder when life as we knew it will reopen. 

As the first wave of the infection has peaked and begun to plateau, Florida government officials and scientific professionals have banded together to plan a reopening strategy that will continue to mitigate the spread of the virus while allowing businesses to begin operating once more. With the right precautions in place and an increase in the ability to test, trace, and isolate coronavirus hotspots as they emerge, Florida officials are hopeful that the summer months will begin to see a return of the tourism that makes the state a destination.

Florida’s Plan To Reopen: Safe. Smart. Step-by-Step. 

According to Governor DeSantis and the Florida task force overseeing COVID-19 mitigation, the following 4-phase plan has been released. The process will move in phases, based on continuous evaluation of the numbers regarding symptomatic traceability, outbreak number decline, and healthcare capability. Should the numbers continue to stay steady and manageable, the government will deem the state ready to move into each subsequent phase.

https://www.facebook.com/GovRonDeSantis/videos/261589691638033/

While this article will focus on the elements of the plan centered on tourism and entertainment industries, you can see the entire plan here.

Phase 0 (Pre-Opening)

Phase 0 has been designated the status prior to any reopening efforts. In this phase, the lockdown measures have not been dropped.

  • Theme Parks: 
    • These facilities are currently operating under restricted business measures or have closed.
  • Recreation Businesses & Beaches:
    • Beach access is limited to parties of 10 or less with the 6-feet distance required between groups. Beach closures remain a local government decision.
    • Entertainment Venues: (i.e. movie theaters, concert halls, auditoriums, bowling alleys, arcades, playhouses, casinos) These facilities are not deemed essential activities.

Phase 1

  • Theme Parks: 
    • All theme parks should remain closed.
  • Recreation Businesses & Beaches:
    • Beach access should be limited to parties of 10 or less with a 6-feet distance between groups. Beach closures should remain a local government decision.
    • Entertainment Venues:  These venues should utilize strict social distancing protocols and should operate at no more than 50 percent capacity, with a minimum of 6 feet separating parties. Additional guidance includes:
      • Parties should not exceed 10 people
      • Operators should clean and disinfect all surfaces after each use
      • Businesses should consider screening employees before work and require workers to wear face masks or cloth face coverings while inside or within close proximity to members of the public.

Phase 2

  • Theme Parks: 
    • Theme parks may consider re-opening with capacity limits, strict social distancing and proper measures to clean and disinfect.
  • Recreation Businesses & Beaches:
    • Beaches should be fully open
    • Entertainment Venues: These venues should utilize strict social distancing protocols and should operate at no more than 75 percent capacity, with a minimum of 6 feet separating parties. Additional guidance includes:
      • Parties should not exceed 10 people.
      • Operators should clean and disinfect all surfaces after each use.
      • Businesses should be considering screening employees before work and requiring workers to wear face masks or cloth face coverings while inside or within close proximity to members of the public.

Phase 3

  • Theme Parks: 
    • Theme parks may return to normal operations with limited social distancing protocols.
  • Recreation Businesses & Beaches:
    • Beaches should remain fully open.
    • Entertainment Venues: These venues should re-open fully with limited social distancing protocols.

A Strategy For Reopening In The Florida Entertainment Industry

As the phase plan shows, there is at least a light at the end of the COVID-19 tunnel. For those who own and operate businesses that focus on entertainment – such as arcades, theme parks, theaters, and more – the process will take a bit longer and require more precautions than other businesses. So what can you do in the meantime to prepare for the reopening of your business? 

Here are some steps you can take to ensure that your company is post-COVID ready:

Get Your Team Back Together

It is likely that due to the shutdown you were forced to lay off or furlough your employees and team members. Now is the time to reach out and begin to encourage your team to begin dreaming with you what the next steps will look like.

If any of them have been taking advantage of unemployment benefits, have a candid conversation about returning to their job, and any benefits or expectations they may now have for financial stability, health precautions, etc. If you take the time to build morale now, you’ll have a superstar team ready on day one!

Take A Look At Your Current Supplies

Now is a great time to get into your business and take a look at your current stock of supplies. Make a list and reach out to your supplier to get the ball rolling on restocking the necessary items. This is also a great chance to reevaluate any current contracts and negotiate new rates.

Assess Current Cash Flow

Your budget has likely taken a blow deeper than you have ever experienced. Now is the time to get a grasp of your financial situation and begin to strategize for the days ahead. Make sure to tighten your belt, get current with any bills that are due (rent, supplies, wages), and take the opportunity to renegotiate if possible. Start the first day back with a clear mind and know where you stand financially.

Seek Government Grants

The list of available government grants for a variety of sectors is growing as the pandemic continues. Do your research while in lockdown and see what grants or aid programs you may be eligible to take advantage of, and factor those into your cash flow and operating costs. 

Offer Services To Keep The Money Flowing In

Even before the doors reopen, there are numerous ways that you can keep business flowing. Many companies have expanded their business services to include options such as takeout, curbside pickup, and delivery to keep their customers engaged and happy while at home. These options also provide the chance for you to keep employees on the payroll as they continue to serve customers. If your business can operate in any of these ways to begin to draw back customers to your doors, take advantage of the time you have to prepare.

Keep Promoting Your Business On The Cheap

This phased reopening is the time to take advantage of the greatest advertising out there: social media. By using digital promotional tools to your advantage, you can continue to entertain and engage your customers, as well as keep them loyal to your brand. Consider:

  1. Ramp up your social media on a variety of channels with fun competitions, personal videos, and other quality content.
  2. Offer additional or add-on services that will reach new customers online.
  3. Utilize online menus and digital ordering apps to help those on the internet continue to engage and buy from you. You can use this method to build a routine of meeting the younger demographic where they already do most of their buying.

If You Prepare, They Will Return

The coronavirus pandemic has been unprecedented in many ways. However, the human spirit has time and again proven that it is far more resilient than any forced closure. With the proper precautions taken, a bit of elbow-grease ingenuity in play, and the right marketing, you can prepare to open your doors and bring fun-hungry customers back to your business from the moment the phase begins!

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