PRACTICAL IDEAS FOR TACKLING CORONAVIRUS FOR CLUBS AND HOTELS

In the toughest of times, businesses that look for opportunities and think outside the box are most likely to see a smaller downturn. I work with many clubs and hotels and I am seeing lots of proactive strategy and discussion meetings around how to stop the spread of the disease in the venue, and more visible cleaning regimes.  Working out how to best assist staff with sick leave and holiday leave, general safety and protection practices for both staff and members have all been high priorities. Let’s face it, if any of our staff come down with coronavirus, most of us will have to close the business for a few days and if word gets out the customers may go elsewhere out of fear.

Because this beast is moving quickly and every day brings new changes we have, by necessity, been focusing on immediate reactions based on information coming from government departments.  Now that most of these immediate changes to protect our staff and customers have been implemented, it is time to focus on what can be done to protect our business in the coming months.

The Basics

  • Perception is everything. Be visible when cleaning surfaces….everywhere! There is no point only cleaning at night when no one is around and then not being seen to cleaning during the day.
  • All hard surfaces, such as railings, benches, tables, the arms of chairs, bar tops, till buttons, coffee machines and grinders, bathroom doors, lift buttons, CRT machines, atm machines, bingo equipment, handles on toilet stalls and more should all be cleaned constantly.
  • The below graph is from a study by the USA NIA/Princeton/UCLA which shows how long COVID 19 remains on surfaces. Note that it also includes cardboard and plastic which will extend most venue’s current cleaning regimes.

  • With what we know about the virus so far, and with what we know about coronavirus in general, ‘special’ air conditioning filters guaranteed to ‘kill coronavirus’ are very unlikely to work. Current advice from the Australian Health Department and the World Health Organisation do not currently recommend any type of air filtering as a preventative measure. Even if the filters do work, if people in the building are still coughing, sneezing and not washing their hands, then filtering the air will not have a large impact.

Gaming

  • Visibly be seen to be cleaning machines, screens and buttons. Don’t spray directly onto the machine but spray onto a disposable cloth and then wipe the machines.
  • Any wood or metal parts on machine stools such as arms and handles should be cleaned
  • If the numbers of players really drop off and you have long machine banks, it may be possible to reposition the best performing/most popular games, and turn off every second machine so that  players remain the required distance away from each other while playing. They will feel safer and I don’t see many venues that are over 50% full even in busy periods.
  • Do you have function rooms or another space (sports bars) that are not in use very often? How about getting that extra space licensed for machines and having a gaming room for the top tier players only? It would be a private gaming room that may stop your biggest players heading to other clubs or worse, heading online.
  • Most of our top tier players are on their own. One of the main reasons they come into our clubs is for the social experience. Social isolation and self-quarantine may leave many of our members very lonely and isolated. Use the staff to help set up a system to check for people who haven’t come into the club (particularly the regulars) and give them a call to see if you can help with a meal delivery, or just a daily call.
  • If shutdowns and restrictions to 500/150/50 people only are necessary – reward loyalty by ensuring that top tier players are the priority and then one-in/one-out after that.

Communication

If we have to reduce numbers or worse, maintaining a connection to members will be very important to show that you care

  • Set up a system to have staff call members who are on their own and need the contact of a daily phone call, just to check up on them and have a chat
  • Connect with a local chemist so your members can get scripts filled and delivered by the club bus if they can’t get out.
  • A club’s biggest advantage is that it is the centre of the community. Be the communication centre to help people connect with assistance – where do they go if they get sick, can they contact you of they are desperate for assistance e.g. they have no food etc so you can put the word out to the community?
  • Help older members set up an online Coles or Woolies account for home delivery when they are quarantined
  • Use your social media to keep people up to date with community issues
  • Whatever you decide to do make sure you let your customers know what you have set up for them to help before any restrictions.
  • Focus on signing up as many people for communication connections as possible – FB, email etc before restrictions are introduced

Restaurants and food

  • Have staff serve things that are normally help yourself items. For example, buffets with common shared serving utensils could be changed to staff service so only one person uses the serving spoons.
  • Don’t have tables set. Remove cutlery bins and let staff hand out utensils wrapped in a serviette
  • Use single use menus
  • If your numbers drop it may be worth removing half your tables so that people can maintain a distance between other groups
  • Can you create a special menu for customers to order online and have a meal delivered?
  • Use space such as unused function rooms as private dining rooms
  • Expand tables sizes where possible even if it means losing seats so diners aren’t too close. For example, change a small table with four chairs to tables of two. Place two small tables together to seat only 4 people rather than 6-8

Staff

  • We have all become expert in the general symptoms and hygiene practices that are required. Australian Govt supplied information can be found at: https://www.health.gov.au/ and your state Dept of Health also has information and posters that remind staff of the importance of hygiene, facts about COVID19 and who to call if you think you have been exposed to, or have symptoms:

NSW – http://www.health.nsw.gov.au

QLD – https://www.health.qld.gov.au/

VIC – https://www2.health.vic.gov.au/

 

  • When cleaning, don’t forget to clean office desks, phones and common equipment like copiers, fridges, microwaves and chairs and tables in the staff room. All need to be regularly cleaned. You don’t want managers and staff getting sick, particularly those frontline operational and duty managers whose shifts are hard to fill.
  • Discuss a plan of action for staff if a customer reports symptoms. What steps should they take, and what should managers do if alerted by staff.
  • Staff should not store personal belongings in preparation areas, but rather use lockers in a separate area.

We may be seeing some tough months ahead, but China is already bouncing back after 4 months and they didn’t know what they were facing. We do and are being proactive in dealing with it. When the air clears people will have had enough of being stuck at home and things will bounce back fairly quickly.

If you have maintained contact with customers, and shown them that you care, they will come back to your club in droves.

Written by: Justine Channing

Cream Gaming Strategy and Services

justine@creamgaming.com.au

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