A case study examining the reopening post lockdown of Beau Sejour Leisure Centre.
As Beau Sejour Leisure Centre becomes the first community leisure facility to reopen in the British Isles following the coronavirus pandemic, Leisure-net asks what can we learn?
As there are currently no known active cases on Guernsey, sports and leisure facilities are able to operate in accordance with the States of Guernsey phase 4 ‘Exit out of Lockdown’ guidelines. With 88% of those surveyed by us saying they will use their club more or the same once it reopens, we need to be ready for users wishing to return.
Sam Herridge, Head of Recreation Services at the States of Guernsey has shared some of the challenges and lessons she and her team have already encountered when preparing for Beau Sejour’s reopening.
In order for the transition to a ‘new normal’ to be smooth and as simple as possible, Sam recommends making every activity bookable. This allows you to manage numbers within your facility and therefore manage safety along with any additional stringent cleaning requirements. Over 57,000 respondents named cleanliness of the facility as the most important factor influencing their choice to return once centres reopen. Beau Sejour has dedicated substantial resources and time for the enhanced cleaning and hygiene measures required in order to ease the concerns of its customers, as well as adhere to current Public Health guidelines. As a result, the team has closed off particular areas of the centre so deep cleaning can be carried out properly and efficiently.
“Been to the gym twice and have to say awesome clean. Staff cleaning all the time, plenty of room for everybody, happy days!”
We have found that the main element customers are missing is the motivation provided by gym/class instructors, so it is expected that demand will exceed the new limited services and facilities available due to restrictions. An effective booking system will be crucial. Beau Sejour suffered from some initial IT issues which caused frustration from regular customers so it is important you are technically well prepared for an influx of online traffic, and telephone bookings if it all goes wrong!
Swimming was named as one of the most popular activities pre-lockdown and Beau Sejour has put a number of policies in place to try and make it as accessible as possible. The access point is directly onto poolside where customers have an allocated table to get undressed (in a ‘beach style’ approach – costumes on underneath clothes!) and leave their belongings on. They then use the changing village to change after their swim, with access only to communal showers. The team has also restricted all swimming sessions to lane only public swimming during this initial re-opening period to not only minimise contact, but keep things simple. No lockers are available (resulting in reduced cleaning requirements) and only a limited number of cubicles are available on a rotational basis, allowing for regular deep cleaning to take place throughout each day.
“Well done guys, I popped up earlier to test the pool. The new way seems well thought out and I didn’t feel uncomfortable at all. Staff were brilliant and as friendly as ever. Great work.”
With half of all respondents to our survey saying they have been less active during lockdown, communication to encourage users back to centres will become even more important. Beau Sejour has dedicated a lot of time to updating its social media as well as liaising with local media outlets and creating signage with clear guidance. Through the creation of a subtitled film clip showing customers exactly what they should expect when they use the Centre for the first time during this period, customers are able to return feeling supported and safe.
Ultimately over half of our survey respondents said they will value their centre more when they return. It is important to harness this enthusiasm and that of your staff team to make reopening a success. Listen and use comments and ideas, and Sam says don’t forget about the successful campaigns that kept the community engaged whilst you were closed! The main reason customers will be using centres less is because they will be exercising independently outside. Mark Wylie, one of Beau Sejour’s BodyZone fitness team came up with various walking challenges throughout the Lockdown period, with members and non-members posting stunning pictures from their walks, along with comments about the positive impact walking had had on their daily lives.
“And it’s a wrap! 100miles done this month (achieved 75 and just kept going…) Thanks so much for setting the challenge…husband is transformed from couch potato to addicted walker, and it’s helped me cope with a month of long hours at Public Health…”
It is important to still include these customers and be there for them when they decide they are ready to return, or even become a new member.
Our National Post Lockdown Survey Report is available in full for purchase from our website, leisure-net.org, or as a free summary here.