Managing guests' perception of cleanliness

Managing guests’ perceptions of your new procedures

COVID-19, Guest Experience

This article is part 2 of a 3 part series. Click here for the full series.

We all want to exceed our guests’ expectations and go above and beyond.  When we deliver an experience that is beyond what is expected, we increase the likelihood of repeat visitation, positive word of mouth and online reviews, and it ultimately leads to lifelong guest loyalty.  We don’t need to rebuild that mentality from the ground up, but it needs to be modified to meet the current situation.  Before focusing on exceeding expectations, the expectation needs to first be met, otherwise we risk service failures, and the confidence that’s been built begins to unravel.

This is the moment of truth.  The new procedures that you’ve put in place are only as effective as they are perceived to be by your guests.  If guests can see, feel, and sense the care and attention that is put in place toward sanitation and physical distancing, their anxiety will reduce and their comfort levels will rise.  If they can’t, you will encounter more frustration, more complaints, and damaging online reviews, regardless of what is going on behind the scenes.  Pre-COVID, guests would sense cleanliness, but now we can expect that they want to see it in action from the moment they walk in.

The ABC rule of “always be cleaning” takes on an increased importance during these times, even if you or your staff thinks it’s just for show.  A grocery store near me now staffs an employee at the entrance, wearing a mask and gloves, actively cleaning, and makes sure that every customer walking in is provided with a freshly wiped cart or basket.  A recent video taken at Shanghai Disneyland shows a staff member cleaning a trash can, which, for most attractions, was not something regularly seen by guests in pre-COVID operations.

A cast member at Shanghai Disneyland seen cleaning a trash can
A cast member at Shanghai Disneyland seen cleaning a trash can

Physical distancing is another message that needs to be regularly seen and felt while visiting.  Markers on the ground, plexiglass barriers at cash registers, and signage is the first step, and understandably a giant leap compared to pre-COVID operations.  The next step is with enforcement.  How are guests regularly being reminded to keep their distance from each other and from staff members whenever possible?

Thinking back to pre-COVID times, there are several policies and procedures that we regularly need to remind our guests throughout the course of their visit.  It might be that there is no outside food or drink permitted, no smoking except in designated areas, no reentering a line after you’ve exited, or not to sit on queue railings.  These are usually positioned as “friendly reminders” as they may not have been top of mind for guests, since they’re not used to visiting your attraction every day.  Hopefully physical distancing will be top of mind, but even if that’s the case, implementing this communication into your rotation of “friendly reminders,” both in pre-recorded announcements along with personal reminders from staff, will further demonstrate your commitment to their safety.

By focusing on guests’ perceptions of your new measures, you are able better meet expectations that guests have of your new normal.  Once this is in place, don’t lose sight of why you are in business in the first place.  While the attractions industry varies substantially in offerings, there is a common thread of what we all aim to do: deliver a superior experience and exceed expectations.

Don’t let new procedures get in the way of your hospitality.  Masks should not stop your employees from smiling, and glass barriers should not get in the way of a personalized experience.  Your first guests to revisit you when you reopen are undoubtedly your most loyal, and you should make sure that they know that you see that too.  A superior guest experience doesn’t stop with a six-foot distance between each other.

This article is part 2 of a 3 part series. Click here for the full series.

Joshua Liebman
Joshua helps attractions understand and improve their guest experience.  As the Director of Business Development for Amusement Advantage, Joshua specializes in mystery shopping, quality assurance consulting, feedback analysis, and guest experience training.  Amusement Advantage proudly serves more than 600 attractions across the US and Canada.

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