Live sporting events will eventually return, but will Coronavirus fears ever subside?
Sports fans want one thing during these uncertain times… SPORTS.
It’s inevitable. Sports will return. They have to. But fans will be overly cautious of attending any games. They will only become fans again when their safety is assured.
Imagine something for a moment… It’s the beginning of September. Sunday. Opening weekend for the NFL.
You and three others meet in the parking lot of the stadium. One took an Uber, another came with friends going to the game, and the third flew in that morning from a business trip.
All four of you stand in line waiting for the gates to open. Surrounded by people, all talking, laughing, touching each other. Finally, after passing through security and handing someone your ticket to scan, you are inside. Two of you head to the restroom while the others go to the concessions to get something for the group.
Waiting in line for the restroom, people filter in and out. Some wash their hands, some do not.
At the concession stands, the exchange of cash, cards, receipts, hot dogs, burgers, and everything else flows through multiple sets of hands, even if they are wearing gloves.
The four of you reconnect and head to your seats. From here forward, wherever your seats are, any number of human interactions can and will happen. You might bump into someone, have some confused and mistaken fans already sitting in your seat, have food dropped on you from the hands of a call-protesting fan in the seat behind, you might even celebrate a great play by high-fiving a random fan without even thinking.
The point is… Live sporting events bring people together, often in the tens or even hundreds of thousands. Everyone coming from somewhere, having interacted with other people, and converging on one single location; packed with strangers.
The return of sports will bring unchartered joy to all fans alike. However, for teams and leagues, saying a public gathering is simply “safe” will not provide peace of mind.
You can imagine the questions going through the minds of fans…
- What can I do prior to, and during, an event to ensure my own safety and the safety of my family, friends, and other guests
- How can I be sure the stadium workers are safe and healthy?
- What cleaning process does the stadium go through prior and during an event?
- Where is the food coming from and how is it handled before reaching my hands?
- What is the best way to enter the stadium, purchase concessions, and get to my seats without dealing with a lot of people?
We need a detailed plan of action, screamed loud and clear, that ensures cleanliness before, during, and after an event.
For sports to resume in a safe manner, we need to confine the parameters to something smaller than a large stadium. For a plan to be effective, we must acquiesce the fact – there is a new normal – one where, absent a vaccine, 100,000 strangers will not be congregating to a single location.
So, for the purposes of this Answer Plan, we will be focusing on the areas of hospitality that Best.Day.Ever. specializes in… Premium hospitality and luxury suites. It stands to reason that these areas of a venue will also be the first to open again, as they are a major revenue driver for many teams and most customers are locked into multi-year contracts.
Usually the small, climate-controlled space found in a luxury suite is more enticing to companies entertaining clients. However, the freedom of movement, “living-room-esque” atmosphere now poses a significant need for enhanced attention to cleanliness. Whether you are a company who sends an employee to host clients at a game, a team who assigns sales and service representatives to engage customers and prospects, or a specialized agency, like Best.Day.Ever., who serves to optimize the use of a company’s tickets AND activate their suites, the below practices outline a plan of action to ensure the safety of all attendees.
Every suite should include a point of contact to host guests. That person may be the suite owner, an employee of the owning company, a trusted friend, or someone from a third party that has been hired to activate an event in the suite.
Whatever the venue, premium entrances will open at least an hour and a half before the start of an event. That host needs to arrive as soon as the gates open so that they can be the first to enter.
This person’s role has fundamentally changed in a COVID-19 world. No longer are they tasked with simply entertaining and engaging their guests, but also with sanitizing the entire suite area like the Karate Kid in his early training days. They are to be prepped before an event with a comprehensive cleaning manual. Not calling for hazmat suits or rapid-fire testing. Just simple cleaning procedures:
The key thing to note is that a luxury suite is specifically designed to not only provide an exclusive atmosphere, but also one of comfort and that is “homey” so you should clean it as if you would your own home.
Cleaning the suite is step one but only goes so far due to the virus being predominantly passed through human contact. The suite host needs to remain diligent in their efforts to promote fan safety throughout the entirety of the event.
Remember in the earlier scenario with you and three other friends waiting in line to enter? Take it a step further an imagine you and your friends being met by a (white) glove-wearing escort, there with Lysol wipes, masks, and sanitizer, grabbing all door handles and pushing elevator buttons so that you and your friends can simply glide your way germ-free through to the suite.
The host should reach out to the guests a day or two before the event with some achievable time slots for guests to sign up for. The first pickup should provide the host with ample cleaning time before heading down to the gate. Best.Day.Ever. practices 30-minute intervals leading up to the opening whistle with a final time slot a half-hour after the game starts for any guests arriving late.
Once with the guests, the host should guide them on the quickest route with the least traffic. Pressing all elevator buttons and opening any doors on the way, the host should explain how the suite was disinfected, offer team-branded gloves and masks, and ask if there is anyone in the group that they can provide any special accommodations for.
In the suite, business as usual. Surfaces, furniture, and appliances have been cleaned, guests have PPE’s, hosts and suite attendants are wearing gloves, and the sweet smell of sports has filled the room. All is back to normal, right? Not quite…
Remember the main point of our previous scenario. Sports bring people of all walks of life together in a single location. The guests in the suite did not all come together. Even if you disinfected before they arrived, they brought more germs with them. It is imperative that hosts clean throughout the event, with a thorough sanitization of surfaces and furniture again at halftime.
Once the game is over, the host should escort guests out of the venue using, again, the quickest and safest route. On the way and/or in an anonymous post-event survey, ask the guests how everything was and if any improvement can be done from a cleanliness standpoint. All feedback is good feedback. Hospitality operators should always want to improve how they keep their guests safe.
No secret serum here. As stated earlier, just because someone says a public gathering is “safe” does not grant you peace of mind. Fans will want to know why and how it is safe. Suppliers and operators of a company’s hospitality assets will all need to do their part in educating fans on just this.
Short, easy to read, and resourceful pamphlets describing cleaning methods, food origins, and social guidelines should be given to premium clientele days before the event, as well as passed out to non-premium seating during events.
Sports will return and so will the fans. Diseases don’t fade away, they are controlled. Fans are gold to sports teams and leagues; they should be protected as such. Best.Day.Ever. can help.
Click the below to contact us if interested in giving your guests the Safest.Event.Ever.