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Almost immediately when the pandemic started and entire industries were forced to shut down, the conversation about reopening began. Off and on, back and forth, closing, reopening, and closing again. One lesson we all learned, is that we can never be too certain when or if things will ever return to “the way they were”. But our sense of optimism and love for the arts, culture, culinary experiences, and social events has kept us consistently dreaming of what we had and how we can reinvent it in a post-pandemic world.

Institutions that have begun reopening know it’s not simple. There are safety measures, additional processes, budget constraints and more to consider. On the bright side, your website can help. We’ve compiled some digital recommendations and resources that utilize your website for the reopening process. Plus, we know so many of you enhanced your digital presence this past year and encourage you to take advantage for increased ROI. Your website and your digital agency are integral tools in the reopening process. Continue reading to find out how and why.

Reopening Recommendations – How Your Website Can Help

Don’t Lose Your Digital Enhancements

Last spring, many arts, culture and entertainment institutions put time and effort into updating their website to showcase virtual entertainment to keep patrons engaged while doors were closed. Initiatives outlined in 9 Tips for Patron Engagement During COVID, also included adding donation forms, enews subscriptions, etc. and these efforts should not go in vain.

We recommend you NOT lose all of the enhanced digital content and online engagement that has been generated in the past 14 months. Although your instinct may be to run full speed into live events and in person experiences once again, proceed gradually and cautiously. A bit of critical thinking will result in a much more diversified revenue stream in the long run. It may seem tempting to revert the website back to the way it was pre-COVID, with one added navigation link and page to house all that digital content. Don’t do that. Highlight both. Many of our clients have revisited their site architecture, adding ways to highlight digital offerings at the same navigation level as traditional ticketed events. Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra is a great example.

Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra Tickets & Events Page

Update Your “Plan Your Visit” Page

Masks and social distancing aren’t going away anytime soon, as there are still risks and varying levels of comfort among patron groups. Launching or updating a “Plan Your Visit” is a must-do for reopening. Suggested content or updates include:

  • Your state’s current rules and regulations around COVID
  • Updates to your cleaning procedures
  • Updates to your opening hours
  • What’s expected of your patrons
    • Mask-wearing requirements
    • Social distancing rules
    • Consequences of not adhering
  • Other changes to the venue experience (such as touchpoints and traffic patterns)
  • Update or add a FAQ section

Update Your “Terms and Conditions” Page

To protect your organization from liability, we suggest a thorough audit of your terms and conditions to include language around COVID-19. Many customers don’t even realize that they’re agreeing to terms of service when making an online purchase, so it’s important to make this step very obvious. This can be done by:

  • Requiring a separate click or pop-up window to accept terms at purchase,
  • Recapping your rules/terms with your ticket confirmation email,
  • Having a Sales Associate script for phone or in-person purchases.

We outlined other tips when cultural institutions were ready to reopen this past summer. Learn more.

How Your Digital Agency Can Help

You partner with a digital agency that helps with website design, development, and strategy, great! Utilize that resource to augment your internal team with increased testing and training before your first in person event on-sale.

Planning and Testing Prior to a Ticket On-Sale

Many venues haven’t had tickets on sale in months. Switching things back on sale may seem easy, but we highly recommend planning and testing before going live. Get in touch with your web partner well in advance with upcoming on-sale dates and request help with testing and ensuring everything is up to date. It may seem unnecessary, but it’s much better to do the leg work beforehand versus running into an unexpected issue that requires an immediate and urgent fix from your developer. When you are finally having an on-sale for your first in-person event in a long time, you really want to avoid any hiccups. Utilizing your web development partner is a great way to mitigate issues.

Onboarding and Training New Staff

14 months is a long time. It’s very likely that organizations have had major staffing changes, whether due to unfortunate furloughs or regular turnover. All new staff members will need to get acquainted with the CMS and ticketing systems before diving into making changes or starting on-sales. Utilize your digital agency to train and onboard new staff. It’s a temporary expense that can decrease the learning curve and help people get up to speed faster. And there is no time like the present.

Additional Resources

Every organization is facing different circumstances, regulations, and challenges when it comes to reopening. From outdoor concerts this summer, limited timed-entry tickets to museums, and automated socially distanced seating indoors, there are countless ways to tackle these challenges. Continue to rely on your web partners for support and your websites for one-of-a-kind experiences. Adage is cautiously optimistic that we’ve finally rounded a corner and can look forward to seeing live performances and visiting our favorite museums once again.  In the meantime, enjoy this fantastic video welcoming patrons back to The Cleveland Orchestra’s summer at Blossom Music Festival – it’s sure to give you all of the feels.

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