Operator’s Guide: How to Answer Difficult Questions
Kevin Williams, from KWP, a immersive out-of-home entertainment consultancy, in collaboration with Jeff Chatterton from Checkmate Public Affairs, a specialist in risk and crisis communications, have compiled a simple primer called the “Operators Guide: How to Answer Difficult Questions about Reopening.”
This new guide builds on situations experienced by operators and owners in the amusement and attraction sector, starting the long and difficult process of reopening in their various territories, and offer suggestions on the best approach to tackling difficult questions being raised by concerned guests, and from some on social media. Achieving better engagement with our customers at this confusing time.
This follows on from the previous Top 16 Entertainment Operation Priorities Post COVID-19, this latest in an ongoing series of informative guides is shared with the industry moving forward. Created to address many of the concerns voiced in recent panel discussions and forum posts – underlining the importance of better engagement and interaction with our guests and supply the best information during these changing times.
Objective – A guide towards dealing with the difficult questions (about reopening both in person, and online), faced by operators as they reopen, in the unique conditions they are encountering.
1. Question: “How DARE you reopen? Don’t you know you’re putting lives at risk?”
Instead of saying, “Everyone else is opening. It’s only fair that we move forward,” try saying, “I have family myself, and nothing is more important than the safety of our guests.”
2. Question: “Do you care more about money than keeping people safe?”
Instead of saying, “That’s mean! How dare you accuse me of that!” try saying, “You have questions about the right time to open our facility. I’ve asked myself those same questions. Here’s what I know: Nothing is more important than the safety of our guests.”
3. Question: “It’s irresponsible for you to open? Those resources are needed elsewhere?”
Instead of saying, “Look, the Governor has said it’s OK to open. We need to take guidance from somewhere,” try saying, “I’m a resident of this community. I asked myself that same question. I know how critically important it is that families have a safe opportunity to get some fun and recreation after weeks of quarantine. We’re opening our facility in a slow, careful and measured way, to ensure a safe environment for all of our guests and staff.”
4. Question: “Why should I come in and work again? Is it really safe?”
Instead of saying, “You worked here before. Did you get sick then?” try saying, “I know that’s an important issue to you. I’ve been coming here every day myself. I have worked to make this facility safe. We’re counting on you to come in and help KEEP it safe.”
5. Question: “What makes you think you should open, when others businesses can’t?”
Instead of saying, “I can’t speak for other business owners,” try saying, “I’ve been home just like you and I know how consuming and confusing all the conflicting directions can be. We’re working directly with our local Health Department to ensure a safe, clean environment, for all our guests.”
6. Question: “Why are you not hiring back all those you use to employ?”
Instead of saying, “We’re using this as an opportunity to cut some of our lower performers!” try saying, “I think everyone is anxious to get back to business. Our most important job is to keep our guests safe. We’re opening our operations slowly and carefully to achieve that. And slowly means our staffing needs will fluctuate. We’re looking forward to getting back to normal as well, but we’re going to get there safely.”
7. Question: “Are you doing enough to keep me, and your staff safe?”
Instead of saying, “Yup. We’re working extra hard and wiping down the rides every turn,” try saying, “You know what? I’m a parent myself. I know how important it is to have a clean, safe environment for my children to play in. Our facility is clean and safe. I’ve seen first-hand the work that goes into keeping it clean. I’ve happily brought my own children out here to play. Our facility is not only clean, it’s safe. We look forward to showing you the efforts we have gone to.”
8. Question: “What are you basing your reasons on to reopen? Are you just making it up?”
Instead of saying, “Look, the Governor said it was OK. What more can we do?” try saying, “I know how consuming and confusing all the conflicting directions can be. We’re working directly with our local Health Department. They’ve been here, they’ve inspected us, and they’ve given us a clean bill of health. Nothing is more important than our guests and we look forward to impressing them with a safe, clean environment.”
Kevin Williams – a leading specialist in the immersive Out-of-Home entertainment industry, through his consultancy KWP Limited, specializing in interactive entertainment. Coming from a long career in the theme park, amusement and entertainment software industries, being an ex-Walt Disney Imagineer. Well known for his news service, The Stinger Report that has become a-must-read for those working or investing in the international market. Along with this, he is also a prolific writer with regular columns for the main trade publications in this market, along with presenting numerous conference sessions on the sector and its global impact. He is also the co-author of the only book on this aspect of the market, “The Out-of-Home Immersive Entertainment Frontier” – currently working on the next edition, schedule for publication soon.