Like everyone else in the country (Scotland and the wider UK) you can't have missed the arguments raging about the reduction of the two metre rule and it looks as thought later today (Monday 22nd June) that there may be a relaxation in England.
The call from hospitality businesses to reduce the distancing to one metre has been loud and sustained and it sometimes appears that there is no dissonance amongst operators.
The troubling aspect from our point of view as event organisers is that everything that's being discussed just now is about supply side economics. It's about being viable at one metre and not at two. The trouble with that scenario is that it doesn't even recognise that the consumer has a say in this. If you haven't asked your customers what their view is on one versus two are you perhaps going to open and fine that you have increased supply for an overestimated demand?
Early doors I picked up a comment from a multi venue operator in central Scotland labelling the rush to open as a a fools errand and that phrase has become embedded in my mind. It is all very well opening up with 80% capacity but what if you only need forty because your customer is more cautious (understandably) than you?
We have a mailing list of three or four thousand of people who have bought tickets for our festival and music events over the past four years so thought we'd send out a very simple questionnaire to see what the thoughts were. No hooks, no catches just three really simple questions...
|Regarding the 2 metre social distancing rule, do you think..?
|What age group are you in? (Not compulsory!)
First off, we thought 400 responses in a 24 hour period was actually indicative of the strength of feeling. Question three reinforced what we knew already regarding the age group of our music events - classic rock and seventies and eighties bands - and is clearly older than the broader pub range.
(The younger age group is pretty much statistically insignificant but 60% of that age group indicated they wouldn't visit until social distancing was removed)
Things to Consider?
- Your customer (okay our customer really!) is split down the middle about one vs two metres and you MUST factor that in to your opening scenario. Get it wrong and you may have reputation management issues that make TripAdvisor look like a walk in the park!
- While 40% of those surveyed said they'd visit a pub and restaurant with a one metre distancing almost 36% said they are not likely to return until social distancing has been lifted. This has major impacts on a) your supply and b) critically your demand.
It's a simple exercise but maybe you should repeat it with your own mailing list? Use it as a positive contact point and see what you get back.
It does however prove yet again that focusing solely on opening up supply is absolutely no guarantee that the hospitality business across the board is going to see the demand follow.