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1st April 2021

The past year has been a huge learning curve for businesses, not only in relation to forced closures but also reopening; following government guidelines and instilling customer confidence. In this context, at Adrenaline Alley every measure has been implemented to minimise the risk of virus transmission.

The advice given for each industry has been plentiful but every organisation is unique, so the biggest hurdle for us has been adapting in a way that suits the needs of our specific business.

As an urban sports of over 6 acres, with a small workforce in comparison to the size of the facility, pre-pandemic we could host over 600 customers on a busy day. Our visitors travel from all over the country and many from overseas. As we initially considered reopening we decided dramatic change was our only option to remain sustainable whilst going above and beyond to provide a safe, Covid-secure environment.

We approached the situation in two stages. Firstly, we ticked every box to comply with government guidelines. Secondly, looking at how we could go the extra mile to protect both our visitors and our staff while encouraging participation.

The latter stage held the biggest challenge as it required innovation and thinking outside the box. It was crucial that beyond being certified as Covid-secure, we really ensured that customers felt safe, had a fantastic experience, and subsequently helped share their positive experience and were eager to return. Being the largest facility of our kind in Europe, taking on something we could never have imagined; we knew achieving this goal would be no easy feat.

After weeks of virtual meetings, rigorous planning, facility modification, staff training, and web development, we were finally ready to relaunch. Leaving no stone unturned, we considered every aspect of the business. Preparations included limiting capacity to less than one third of our normal numbers per day, switching to online bookings only and completely restructuring our session times/prices.

We introduced extensive cleaning procedures and invested in new sanitary and PPE equipment from contactless hand sanitizers to sterilizing fog blasters. This enabled us to maintain the highest standards of hygiene throughout. Our catering services were completely reinvented so we could provide a takeaway service. A new waiting area/snack bar was set up, to accommodate waiting parents, while spectator access was restricted.

Facility-specific measures and guidelines were defined for our customers and we provided a video demonstrating the new journey to give customers a good idea of what to expect before attending.

Keeping customers well-informed was key, especially as we relied on their actions to keep everyone safe. Despite having everything in place, the challenge did not cease once we had reopened. It was essential that we were responding instantly to government guideline updates, and continued to adapt accordingly.

As strenuous as it was to implement everything, one glimpse at the smiles on the faces of our participants and we knew it was worth every effort. Everyone was overjoyed to be back and what’s more, our customers clearly felt safe and reassured that we had truly endeavoured to take care of them. This gave us a great sense of achievement; we had successfully adapted the charity to the circumstances. Realistically, it just boiled down to taking on the task in a holistic manner and considering absolutely everything.

The success of our developments to become Covid-secure was further evidenced by our latest customer feedback survey. 96% of 145 recent visitors confirmed that they felt all necessary measures had been taken. We have also had no track and trace reports or staff infections (up to the January 2021 lockdown) demonstrating we have continued to implement measures effectively.

When we are not in lockdown, our sessions frequently sell out and levels of repeat-custom remain high. We hope this brings inspiration to anyone running an organisation throughout what seems like a never-ending nightmare. Stay positive, adapt and overcome. Your customers are just as hopeful for things to return to normal as you are, but in the meantime, they are more than willing to accept the changes you need to implement to continue offering the goods and services they love.

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