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Rules and regulations as a result of COVID-19 are changing rapidly, creating a challenging scenario for cultural institutions hoping to safely reopen their doors to both eager and hesitant visitors alike. State guidelines and patron comfort levels vary widely. Therefore, it’s imperative to keep your website up to snuff to inform and protect your guests (and you).

Through our work with Arts and Culture clients, Adage is here to help with a few recommendations. Your institution has probably considered many of these solutions. Above all, we hope to reaffirm your instincts and create an achievable checklist. This blog post will cover three categories: Web Content Considerations, Eliminating Touch-Points, and Legal Considerations. We’ve also provided links to some excellent examples from organizations we’ve worked with and others we admire!

Web Content Considerations

In a recent blog post, 9 Tips for Patron Engagement During COVID, Adage tackles a list of website optimizations you can make to increase patron engagement while your venue is closed. Many of these recommendations still apply to reopening, as they serve primarily to keep guests informed. For example, having a banner across your site linking to your COVID-19 response and policies is key to quickly let potential visitors know the latest.

Patrons considering attending a museum, aquarium, or other cultural institution during this time, want and need to know what to expect during their visit. As a result, this could mean major content updates to the Plan Your Visit page, including:

  • 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 (see touch-points below)
  • Update or add a FAQ section
FAQ example for reopening cultural institutions
Midland Center for the ArtsMidland, MI

Eliminating Physical Touch-Points

For decades museums and attractions have worked hard to create fully immersive experiences for their patrons. Often, these innovations include hands-on activities, digital touch screens, and audio devices, which are all currently high risk. Fully eliminating these items could diminish the overall experience. Here are some recommendations for digital, touch-free alternatives:

  • No more paper tickets – opt for fully digital ticket scanning
  • Take your visitor guide map (or for performing arts, programs) online
  • Online or in-app audio guides and exhibition information

Of course, not every patron has access to a smartphone or personal digital device, so it is important to still offer physical items on site to guests. Consider having an add-on option during the ticket purchase process to reserve a paper map and/or sanitized audio guide upon arrival.

guide for cultural institutions reopening
Norman Rockwell Museum

Legal Considerations

“Is it even safe to reopen? Can we meet our state’s guidelines? Can we create space for social distancing?”

If you’ve made it through those sticky conversations and determined that the answer to those questions is “yes,” you’re now faced with the challenges of executing very careful plans. While there are a great many ideas for how to encourage safety among your visitors, it’s impossible to 100% guarantee that everything will go to plan. To protect your business 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.

  • Update your terms of service
  • Require a separate click or pop-up window to accept terms at purchase
  • Recap your rules/terms with your ticket confirmation email
  • For phone or in-person purchases, have a Sales Associate script
terms of service example for reopening cultural institutions

Clear Messages and Enforcement

In short, every venue is different. There is no completely correct way to handle all of the curveballs being thrown our way with COVID-19. People are being confronted with a lot of new information every single day. The best thing you can do is make your information clear, consistent, and to the point. Stating your venue’s policies across your website and purchase path protects you, your staff, and your patrons. In the same vein, be prepared to repeat your policies over and over again to support your staff who are tasked with enforcing tough new policies when you reopen.

To consult with Adage about how to optimize your website content, digital offerings, and purchase path, fill our Contact Form.