Nervous customers are, quite understandably, anxious about returning to venues. Whilst many indoor venues remain closed, tickets may be on sale for future events. It’s also vital to keep communicating and reassuring your audience that, once it’s safe to do so, you’ll welcome them back with open arms.
According to a recent survey, just 20% of theatre audiences are ready to return straightaway but a further 50% would consider booking. It’s more important than ever for the industry to work together and begin reassuring audiences now, while tickets are on sale for future events.
We look at reasons why people might feel apprehensive getting back out and about, and how you can reassure nervous customers.
1. I don’t know what to expect
Customers feel uncertain about entering a new situation. We don’t know what the future holds, or what new rules or guidance we’ll all have to follow. But, as always, communication is key. Make sure customers are aware of the current situation and what safety measures you’ve put in place. This should be regularly updated across your website, social media feeds, booking confirmation and reminder comms ahead of the visit. It should be clear what you expect from your customers, and what they can expect from you.
2. What if something happens and I can’t make the event?
We’re not just nervous about falling ill. The pandemic has shown us all that we simply can’t plan for every eventuality. Be lenient, patient and empathetic with your customers. Offer refund protection to give them peace of mind that, if something does go wrong, their investment won’t go to waste.
3. The experience won’t be the same
Perhaps not. But something being different isn’t always a negative thing. Maintain a consistently positive outlook and look forward to the future. Highlight why the experience might not be what your audience is normally used to, but explain why these are positive features (enhanced safety, efficient ticketing etc).
4. Everything’s digital
Older consumers may be apprehensive about cashless payments, digital tickets and ordering via an app. Don’t be complacent and assume everyone ‘just knows’ how to use technology. Train staff on how to help and reassure customers, and ensure all new processes are explained thoroughly. For example, a step-by-step guide available on an app or your website will be beneficial.
5. I’m enjoying online theatre
Even though so many younger audiences enjoyed streamed variations of life theatre, it’s still a shame almost a third of 18 to 30-year-olds say they plan to avoid theatre visits. Many would prefer to pay for online theatre offerings. Venues would be wise to consider digital initiatives alongside promoting the value of live experience.
6. I don’t know what the future will hold
Many customers aren’t even thinking about plans for next year. After all, who knows? Now’s a great chance to connect with your customers and give them something to look forward to. Keep your marketing channels updated. You could even offer an incentive for customers to book for 2021 events now, giving them even greater reason to dive in.
7. Customer service is declining
We’ve all heard stories of organisations struggling to cope with demand, staffing issues or other disruptions caused by the pandemic. Your services and offerings might be different (for example, a reduced menu or no cloakroom available). Be transparent on your website or booking confirmation about any changes your customers must expect. But always make sure to promise (and deliver) on great customer service from your team.
8. I can’t get to the theatre
People aren’t just nervous about attending venues – they don’t want to use public transport to get there. Why not try to offer discounted car parking or secure bike parks to encourage visitors to come along without needing to use public transport? It could also be beneficial to team up with a local COVID-19 safe taxi firm to provide customers with a safe to and from.
9. I’m worried about my finances
Tickets for any event or experience can be pricey. With an economic recession hitting us hard and many individuals concerned about their bank balance, spending unnecessarily seems like a risk. Again, reassure your customers that their purchase is protected by offering refund protection. This will give your customers peace of mind, making them more likely to go ahead and book.
10. I’m getting used to a more flexible lifestyle
Due to the pandemic, we’ve all had to adapt and make changes. We’ve been unable to make plans to see friends and family, and our working lives have been disrupted. Though things are steadily returning to normality, many people are considering making long-term lifestyle changes. And flexibility is a big part of that. According to SOLT research, 44% of people are more likely to book if they’re able to exchange their tickets if they aren’t able to make an event. This just proves the value of offering refund protection. Show you understand your customers, their lifestyles and their expectations and go the extra mile to help.
Whatever happens, it’s never too early (or too late) to start reaching out to your customers. Keep your marketing channels updated, and begin generating excitement for upcoming shows and events.
The Booking Protect team would love to find out more about your event programme! Tag us on Instagram to let us know what’s going on.