10 Ideas To Keep Your Venue Open During Social Distancing
If there’s one thing to be learned from this pandemic, it’s that we need to be comfortable living with uncertainty. There are a thousand and one questions we can ask that have no answers to: When will people feel safe enough to return? When is a good time for businesses to go back to normal? What will normal even look like?
As NHL put in a statement — which is a perfect encapsulation of the place where so many sports and entertainment businesses find themselves — “We’ve ruled out nothing and are trying to prepare for any eventuality.”
The fact is, venues are already getting creative with opening their doors without breaking the rules of social distancing. That’s crucial during these times. Being able to continue business operations could mean sustaining revenue streams and keeping staff employed, both of which help businesses survive until the toughest times are over.
In this week’s blog, we’d like to offer some ideas on how you can repurpose your venue and open for business, including some examples we’ve seen among FanFood partners.
1. Turn your parking lot into a drive-in movie theater.
Drive-ins are making a comeback. Over 10% of the drive-in theaters in the U.S. are currently using FanFood to serve guests in a contactless manner and in one week alone, thousands of people ordered on FanFood when at drive-in theaters. But it’s not only drive-in theaters that are hosting movie nights: restaurants, stadiums (e.g. Yankee Stadium) and even regular theaters are all turning their parking lots into drive-ins — because, what better social distancing activities are there?
One main revenue stream for drive-in operations is concessions. With a mobile ordering app like FanFood, guests can be perfectly isolated throughout the evening: they can order food from the cars and have it delivered to car, or opt for express pickup without needing physical interaction with anyone.
If you're curious to see how it work in action, here's a video created by Skyline Drive-in. You can also get in touch with our team to learn more. In fact, one of our partners, the Durham Bulls Athletic Park, is already holding movie screenings and using FanFood!
2. Offer curbside pickups.
Even though fans won’t be coming to your venues for events, but they can still come for those top-sellers on your menu! It’s been incredible seeing how willing people are to support their local businesses and venues: customers are not only still placing orders, but are tipping 5-10 times more in the FanFood app.
There’s no reason your F&B operation can’t stay open: be it a restaurant, a food truck, a concession stand or a ghost kitchen, FanFood’ partners have been offering curbside pickup and even meal prep services to their customers.
One of FanFood’s partners, the Georgia Kangaroos, even provided FanFood’s mobile ordering platform for free to its restaurant partners so that they can stay open.
3. Turn your venue into a local food pantry.
With many restaurants closed or operating at reduced capacity because of COVID-19, chefs are out of work. Many have taken this opportunity to give back to their communities by repurposing their restaurants into community kitchens. If restaurants are doing it, why can’t you?
Thousands of Americans have lost their jobs in the last few months, and for a lot of families, it’s unclear where their next meals will be coming from. As a member of the Feeding America Enterprise Society, we here at FanFood want to drive awareness on the issue of hunger. Consider this opportunity to build favor with your community and become a safe haven for those in need. Invite chefs to cook out of your kitchen for your community, or try something else. Other venues have been hosting food pantries or donating meals. For instance, the New York City Football Club donated 100,000 meals to South Bronx residents through the NYC Food Pantry in April.
4. Host graduation ceremonies.
There are definitely better times to graduate than this year. But despite the economic downturn and challenges on the job market, Class of 2020 definitely still deserves some proper celebration to mark their major milestone in life. Some ballparks and stadiums that are large enough to still ensure a certain degree of social distancing have opened up for high school graduation ceremonies. We’ve seen this especially popular among our minor league partners, who have always played an essential role in celebrating the local community.
5. Offer delivery to apartment buildings.
When your customers can’t come to you, why not go to them?
FanFood has been bringing food trucks to a network of residential buildings so that tenants can order from their phones and get their food right downstairs (even in their pajamas!) People can either pre-order on the FanFood app for scheduled pickup (that is, when the food truck arrives), or order instantly while the truck is parked downstairs. Restaurants can also participate by taking pre-orders and delivering the food to the buildings at a certain time. Either way, businesses can serve an entire apartment building while tenants can order their local favorites on the couch. Interested food trucks/restaurants can sign up here, and interested buildings can sign up here.
6. Host a disc golf tournament.
The pandemic has led to the dwindling of some businesses, and the growth of others. For example, disc golf merchants have seen their sales increase by up to four times compared to previous years.
It’s another perfect social distancing activity. So why not repurpose your venue for disc golf? It’s bound to attract lots of local participants.
7. Have a Race Car Parade display.
For this example we look to Sycamore Speedway, a 56-year-old clay racetrack that had to close in March but still wants to maintain a connection with its fans. Instead of packing the audience seats with people, they opted for displaying race cars from the 2020 season in the parking lot, while guests can drive by them from the safety of their own cars.
Another creative idea to make use of the parking lot!
8. Fireworks! Because why not?
You can always find a reason to celebrate with fireworks — especially now. Nothing boosts morale better than a special firework that people can watch and cheer for near and far. Although, make sure that fireworks are legal in the county you're in before moving forward with the planning.
Summer has started, but most people are still in hibernation mode because of quarantine. Finding the motivation to exercise is tough while gyms are closed and the alternative is continuing to binge Netflix.
Even as things begin to open up, gyms and fitness centers remain a huge area of caution. Hosting fitness classes could be a great way to get people out of their houses, especially those who miss going to the gym but want to work out in a safe, spread out environment. For example in Boston, people are hosting outdoor fitness series from Seaport Sweat to the Esplanade's River Fit. Why not open similar classes at your venue?
10. Host virtual music performances.
As many music festivals have transitioned into virtual events, artists are looking for spaces to perform. In May 2020, Northwestern University’s music festival, Dillo Day, went digital. Members of the Regrettes, a punk rock band from LA and one of the main stage artists of the day, were able to meet up for the first time “in a long time,” performing together from an empty concert venue for the digital festival.