The calls, emails, and social media notifications are already coming in. “What are events going to look like this year?” “When can my business open up at full capacity?” “When are customers going to ‘return to normal’?” Because our crystal ball hasn’t been working at optimum capacity for quite some time, we can only tell you how we plan to proceed, the data points we will look at, and how you can help the process along.
- We need all of your help in gauging customer attitudes.- CLICK HERE for the most recent version of our consumer survey. This version is a little different because we have vaccines that are currently rolling out, and we need to detect any changes in consumer attitudes due to treatments or preventative measures. These surveys will continue every six to eight weeks and can be reported in conjunction with other local changes in virus response.
- Know that every single activity now has at least four different plans, and those plans will adjust as events near and facts on the ground clarify.- Anyone that has seen Emporia Main Street planning files for events know how extensive planning mechanisms can get. Now imagine running five of those planning protocols for a single event! These planning “decks” adjust based on the feedback that we receive from the new Lyon County Public Health officer (CLICK HERE). As events get closer, we will have a clearer understanding of what is allowable and what isn’t. Businesses need to have a similar planning strategy. What does hiring look like if things are closer to normal by a certain date? Training? Expenses? I know that extra planning can be a pain, but you don’t want to be caught flat-footed if and when the environment changes.
- What are the data points that will determine more normalcy, and how can we help?- The percentage of the local population that are vaccinated, and the local number of infected individuals are the two defining data points that will determine what is allowed within the local area. Infections can decrease through social distancing, appropriate mask usage, and good hygiene. COVID is still here and active, and until we have enough of the population vaccinated to change health suggestions, we all need to stay vigilant. Each one of us has the capacity to become a “vector” to spread the disease, and vaccines are the best defense against the worst impacts of COVID. The more of us that get vaccinated, the better the chance we have at a return to some sort of normalcy. You can take an active roll in reducing local cases by engaging in preventative measures, advocating for preventative measures, getting vaccinated, and encouraging accurate vaccine information.
- We don’t know exactly what a reopening looks like, but we do know there is a tremendous amount of “pent up” potential spending.- Again, I don’t know anyone who has a crystal ball that has worked particularly well over the past twelve months. However, there are a few things we can infer through some financial data. One thing that we know is that a lack of spending on travel and some exterior consumables has resulted in some “pent up spending“. Some of that will probably express itself in locals traveling as soon as they can. Part of the “pent up” nature of spending may express itself in the form of more “day” or “weekend” style trips. How can your business encourage more experience based tours, work more closely with events, and actively market your business to consumers outside the traditional market trade area? Your planning now could lead to profits later!
- If events can be held with limited restrictions in place, we will need to add some extra amenities.- If events can take place, but capacities on restaurants remain in effect, we will need to generate side street dining areas to decompress the demand on locals. Alcohol may be problematic in a large scale, but could be controlled in more restricted areas. Registrations and community interaction may look vastly different. The community and event organizers will need to remember the reciprocal nature of event support and community economic impact, but everyone will need to remain flexible so our local community can remain as safe as possible.
It’s another stroll into the unknown this year, and we can only control our own behaviors to support community good. Stay safe, stay well, and encourage everyone to take all precautions afforded to them. The more we do now to defeat COVID, the better our community will look for business and event activities over the next several months.