Is Your Arts & Culture Organization Ready for COVID-19 Life?Ivy Gutierrez
What a time to redefine what normal is – this COVID-19 look has pivoted what we do in the world. While at the start of the pandemic we had some overly optimistic “back to normal” hopes, we now realize that the world will never be the same. The phrase “new normal” has been floating around, and people are aware that social and physical restrictions (travel bans, 6 ft. physical distance, reduced gathering sizes) may be reimplemented as new outbreaks occur. Masks and increased hand hygiene will likely be needed for a long time, even after a vaccine is discovered.
Some museums, galleries, and art centers have already found ways to deal with the novel coronavirus. Their exhibitions are very low-contact, they have a lot of space, good ventilation systems have been installed. Perhaps you were able to switch customers to a drive-through experience, like the San Antonio Zoo has done. Others have not reopened yet, and up to ⅓ of the museums in the US fear they may stay closed forever.
We will not bore you with a long list of things your organization needs to do to be able to welcome patrons and members again. Things like increased cleaning procedures, strict health and safety policies, training for your staff are a no-brainer. These universal procedures are followed by a set of unique challenges you will encounter, for example, spatial reengineering of your exhibits to allow for more physical distancing. Depending on how hands-on your programs are, some may be canceled outright or adjusted to the current conditions.
How Technology Can Help Your Organization Be COVID-19 Prepped
Here are some suggestions for the use of new technologies that will help your organization function in a pandemic.
Online Tickets & Timed Ticketing
One of the quickest ways to decrease contact and increase crowd control management is to offer online purchases of tickets. This will allow you not only to be prepared for the number of patrons entering your facility but also to determine when they should arrive. As a bonus, it also provides a way to send them a new list of COVID-19 guidelines and rules you may have implemented.
Introducing self-service kiosks is a great way to protect both your employees and patrons by minimizing contact. You can use this opportunity to go green and provide email/text message delivered tickets.
Mobile Payments in Gift Shop or Restaurants
Avoid the crowds and lines at the cash register by equipping your staff with mobile payment devices. This would also allow you to step away from the traditional close-quartered gift shop and set up multiple smaller purchase stations along your visitor’s route.
Booking Time-Slots for Hands-on Programs
You may be able to hold your workshops and enrichment opportunities by limiting the number of people in attendance. Another option to consider is adding the chance to book such features during the ticket purchasing process.
COVID-19 Symptom Checklist
Many local governments are starting to require taking information from your patrons on their current medical condition. This may include temperature checks and/or a questionnaire that verifies the absence of COVID-19 related symptoms. Include this in your entrance process (could be digital) to comply with the regulation or simply take one extra step for the health and safety of your employees, members, and patrons.
Micro Donations Incorporated in Ticket Purchasing Software
Lower attendance means a decrease in revenue. If you are not yet allowing microdonations to your members and patrons, consider doing it with the new update of your ticketing system. Our experience shows an increase of nearly 20% with the use of our solution.
QR Codes for More Information on Exhibit Items, Maps, etc.
Decreasing the number of surfaces your patrons’ touch is imperative in our current situation. If you have successfully replaced your tickets with electronic versions, consider taking the step forward and doing the same for a map of your organization or additional information you provide to your patrons.
Improve Inventory Tracking for Necessary Supplies
Basic cleaning supplies like soap, sanitizer, and toilet paper have become a hot commodity and one which you can’t risk running out of. It may be time to look at your old inventory management and see if improvements can be made to make sure you stay on top of it.
Replace In-person Tours with Remotely Guided or Pre-recorded Audio Tours
If your organization often holds group tours and employs docents throughout the space, consider breaking it up. Using live radio tours may be one option that allows the guides to answer patrons’ questions in real-time. Alternatively, using pre-recorded radio tours is another option that’s possible. This may be again done with QR codes that let the user access a file on their phone, rather than handing out your own devices (which would need to be sanitized).
Track Location and Use of Your Handheld Devices
With all of these changes, you can expect an increased amount of devices making their way through your organization. Whether in the hands of your employees or patrons, it is paramount that you are aware of their location. This, as well as monitoring that they are indeed being used for business purposes, can be done!
If you are running an organization that is struggling to find the right balance between desires and budget when it comes to new technology and local regulations, reach out to us. Our team can help you with the pros and cons of different options and we can make sure that your updates integrate with your preexisting Blackbaud Altru® databases.
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