So much great work has been done around the world by the adventure industry to address the ongoing business concerns caused by the COVID-19 shutdowns. It’s been amazing to see professionals band together in transparency and help each other figure out industry solutions to minimize the long-term impacts of this pandemic. As we get closer to reopening, it’s clear that it’s not going to be business as usual, especially in the immediate future.
During this time, we’ve been talking to our partners around the globe, listening to API’s informative Huddles, testing disinfecting methods on our products, and trying to support our customers however we can. We are in the unique position of having our devices installed in over 60 countries around the world, and each country has been going through a similar set of circumstances. Below is our attempt to consolidate how the global adventure community is responding to COVID 19 at a glance, including how operations are approaching reopening, cleaning, and hygiene. We hope you will find some actionable insights that can be put to use right away.
Every organization will need to develop protocols that are comfortable for their business, customers and members. Here are a few recommendations to consider.
- If available, use a reservation system to control capacity and manage the check-in/waiver process
- Stagger entry times to avoid lines and crowding in the entrance or common areas
- For operations such as climbing centers or FEC’s, divide the area into sections. For example, you might:
- Extend the distance between climbing lanes
- Reduce the number of climbing lanes or activities open to promote social distancing
- Auto Belays can minimize contact for climbers and staff and reduce the handling of equipment
- Tape off congregating areas to encourage distancing
- Set up your facility in a way that makes your customers feel comfortable
- Reduce density of elements or activities in use
- Tape off or otherwise mark travel lanes, gear areas, safety talk locations, etc.
- Consider one-way traffic on courses to eliminate congestion and close contact
- Consider operational changes to eliminate gathering on platforms or other small areas
- Potentially have participants sign COVID specific waivers that outline the steps your gym is taking to mitigate risk
- Education your customers
- Hang posters or signage around the gym to eliminate confusion
- Check out these free downloadable print materials from the CDC
- Include information in your waiver or on your website to help set expectations
- Communicate what you’re doing through your marketing and onsite so that your customers will feel comfortable and confident in your operations
- Hang posters or signage around the gym to eliminate confusion
There may not be a perfect answer but implementing controls and procedures that make people feel at ease and reduce risk is essential. Proper signage, procedure, and policing hygiene will drive confidence. Some suggestions include:
- Increase hand washing
- Wash hands before and after activities
- Eliminate or reduce locker room activity
- Create additional hand washing or sanitizing stations
- Encourage or require all patrons and employees to wear masks
- Consider glove use for employees and patrons
- Per CDC recommendations, customers or employees that are feeling sick should not enter the facility
- For climbing centers, Liquid Chalk may act as a disinfectant if its alcohol level is over 70%. This would be used in conjunction with rigorous hand washing. It is important to note that Liquid Chalk will only have disinfecting characteristics when initially applied.
This will be one of the most important and difficult operations to tackle for both indoor and outdoor facilities. Not only will active cleaning help with disinfecting, but it will also boost customer confidence. Consider taking the following steps to ensure your facility is as clean as possible:
- Clean frequently-touched surfaces more often, from the front door to the floors
- Set a rigorous schedule for how often high-touch areas are cleaned
- Here’s a great list of disinfectants from the EPA. Note that you should always check with your equipment manufacturer to verify if cleaning agents are acceptable to use.
Adventure Park Insider has facilitated a great series of brainstorming huddles, make sure you check them out every Thursday for the latest information from around the world.
The ACCT is collecting information from different manufacturers and regulatory bodies to keep us updated on the rapidly changing landscape. There are also great resources for small businesses struggling in these unprecedented times. Keep updated here.
There's also a lot to learn from other similar industries at this time, such as:
Christian Popien led an amazing strategy outline for COVID-19 Risk Mitigation in Climbing Gyms for Vertical Life. It was broken into three key categories:
- Occupancy Flow and Capacity Management
- Hygiene Protocol & Protective Measures
- Political Dialogue Lobbying Communication
The Climbing Business Journal has put together an in-depth list of resources from CWA, climbing gym owners, manufacturers and other climbing organizations. The topics range widely from finance, to employment guidance, to marketing and gym operations as a whole. Learn more.
The CWA (Climbing Wall Association in the U.S.) has done an excellent job with Community Calls via Zoom twice a week, bringing a host of experts together to talk about what they’re going through and how to plan for success coming out of this pandemic. Watch the Community Calls.
HeadRush has published a White Paper on protecting and disinfecting your device. For other manufactures, we advise contacting them directly for all products in use in your facilities to ensure their recommendations and guidelines are adhered to. That said, here are a few recommendations from climbing manufacturers that might be of interest to you:
- Petzl: Cleaning and disinfection recommendations
- Kong: Disinfecting Kong Products (see page 2 for English Translation)
- Eldorado Climbing Walls: Guidelines for cleaning and disinfecting climbing walls, holds, flooring, ropes, and TRUBLUE Auto Belays
- Edelrid: Cleanser and disinfectant recommendations
- Teufelberger: Rope disinfection recommendations
This piece was put together to help guide businesses through the reopening process and link you to some wonderful resources that have been put together throughout the global adventure industry. It’s important to remember that these are recommendations and that you should always follow pandemic guidelines handed down to you by your local, state and federal levels of government.