Businesses up and down the country have felt the effects of COVID-19, and one of the hardest hit industries was tourism, given that all non-essential travel was banned at the height of lockdown.
Thankfully, lockdown restrictions are easing bit by bit, and now Brits have been given the green light to travel further from their homes and stay overnight, the UK’s tourism industry can begin to recover.
The rise of the staycation
In recent years the number of Brits choosing to holiday in the UK has been on the rise thanks to things like Brexit, the weak pound, summer heatwaves and so on, but their increase in popularity is at an all-time high in the wake of COVID-19.
Reports show UK tourism businesses have seen a rise of up to 40% in web traffic in 2020, with some areas citing an influx of tourists of late, including popular beauty spots like:
- The Lake district
- South lakes
- The Peak district
- Yorkshire Dales
- Norfolk Broads
- The south coast
- ...and many more.
Here at takepayments, at the heart of everything we do is our mission to help businesses thrive, and that’s never been more true than during this unprecedented time. So, in this guide, we’ll go through how businesses in the tourism industry - as well as others operating in tourist hotspots - can prepare for what looks to be a very busy few months ahead.
Preparing your business
Whether you run a hotel, B&B, or guest house, or a shop, stand, or stall in a popular tourist location, the steps you need to take to ensure your business is COVID-safe are similar and all boil down to distancing and cleanliness.
An important element to running a business safely post-lockdown is safer payments.
The British public is more hygiene conscious than ever thanks to COVID-19, and are thinking carefully about where they’ll spend their money in order to protect themselves, so businesses need to put some thought into how they’ll take payments to attract consumers.
The prevalence of card payments has skyrocketed during the pandemic, up 75% compared to 2019, with contactless payments up 31%, and this is because consumers are uneasy about handling cash.
As we’ve seen, the government is encouraging the use of contactless payments to minimise transmission risk. They’ve also advised businesses to reconsider the location of their card machines to allow for social distancing.
For any business offering in-house food and drinks, like restaurants and pubs, the new rules state table service must be introduced to avoid congestion and maintain a safe distance.
So, let’s take a look at the options on offer for businesses to start taking safer payments.
Here at takepayments, we specialise in card machines for small businesses. They are all set up to take contactless payments, including Apple and Android pay as standard. There are three options to choose from:
- Countertop - a countertop card machine sits on your point of sale and is plugged into your broadband or phone line using a two-metre cable, meaning rearranging its position to allow for distancing is hassle-free.
- Portable - portable card machines boast a 50-metre range to allow you to take the payment to the customer - perfect for adhering to the table service rules.
- Mobile - mobile card machines can take card payments from anywhere in the UK thanks to their 3G technology - ideal for the likes of ice cream vans and mobile food outlets wanting to make the most of the surge in UK tourists.
By now we’re all familiar with the two-metre rule, or one-metre plus where necessary, so you need to take a look at your workspace and make adjustments to allow for social distancing. Here are some of the actions outlined in the government’s latest guidance for the tourist sector:
- Keep the number of staff on-site to a minimum
- Erect screens in areas where distancing is challenging i.e. kitchens and reception desks
- Instruct one person at a time to retrieve goods from fridges, freezers, store cupboards, etc.
- Advise staff to wear a visor when coming into contact with customers
- Rearrange seating in waiting areas to allow for distancing
- Group your workforce into teams to minimise exposure
- Side-by-side and back-to-back working is preferable to face-to-face
- Close off non-essential areas
- Stagger staff arrival, departure, and break times
- Minimise contact when customers are paying - use contactless where possible (we’ll go into this in more detail later on).
And for your guests…
- Provide additional parking where possible
- Open more entrances and exits to your site
- Mark a one-way flow through your premises
- Stagger arrival and departure times to avoid bottlenecks
- Use signs and floor markings to remind guests to distance
- Make sure guests can queue safely, i.e. mark out clear areas for queues to form
- Put up signs asking customers to use stairs instead of lifts - leaving lifts in use for disabled guests
- Control the use of corridors and other tight spaces by using floor markings or similar.
Keeping your premises clean and sanitised is paramount to reduce the risk of transmission. The government advises you should:
- Clean your site before reopening
- Clean surfaces and equipment thoroughly between uses
- Clean busy areas more frequently and more thoroughly
- Limit the use of items touched often and remove items that aren’t necessary e.g. magazines in a waiting area
- Provide extra bins and empty them more frequently
- Provide different towels and other amenities for each customer i.e. in guest bedrooms
- Ensure any housekeeping staff are well versed in handwashing guidelines and keep a checklist of areas to be cleaned following guest departure
- Clean keys between guests.
For restrooms, changing rooms, and showers:
- Close changing rooms and showers where possible
- Put signs and posters up to remind staff and guests of handwashing guidelines, as well as things like avoiding touching your face and other important practices
- Provide hand sanitiser
- Regularly clean toilets
- Provide electric hand dryers or paper towels - no communal items like towels.
Keeping customers and visitors safe
As well as the above distancing and cleanliness guidelines, there are additional measures outlined for tourism businesses to take to protect their customers.
- Work out the number of visitors you can safely accommodate while maintaining distancing and put these new limits in place before taking bookings.
- Provide customers with information on the new measures and procedures they can expect before their arrival.
- Use signs, posters, and floor markings as reminders.
- Hand sanitiser should be available at regular intervals throughout your site.
- Remind customers with children they’re responsible for their supervision at all times.
- Ask screening questions during booking and before arrival.
- Encourage the use of face coverings in communal areas.
- Ensure customers from two households or within support bubbles can be seated together indoors, with social distancing.
- Ensure customers from two households or within support bubbles, or up to six adults from different households can be seated or stood together outdoors, with social distancing.
- Close indoor communal facilities - such as kitchens - where guests prepare their own food, and any other indoor areas where distancing cannot be maintained.
An element we all love about the likes of hotels is room service, so here’s what you need to do to be able to offer this service to guests:
- Encourage ordering by phone
- Arrange safe drop-off and pick-up zones
- Encourage tips to be added to the bill or paid safely
- Make staff accessible safely via apps, phone, and email.
Track and trace
As a business working in the tourism or hospitality sectors you’ll be required to keep a temporary 21-day record of customer details to assist the government’s track and trace protocols.
It exists so in the event of an outbreak the government can use the information to identify people potentially at risk and prevent the further spread of COVID-19.
You can collect this information online when they book, or in-person as they enter your premises or site.
Want to get the ball rolling accepting card payments and beat the rush? Reach out to one of our friendly experts today to discuss your options.