As venues start to open back up under COVID-19 regulations, event organizers are looking for ways to follow guidelines while reaching their business goals and bringing live event experiences back to their audiences. But they’re facing a number of challenges that they haven’t seen before. 

With regulations on in-person gatherings rapidly evolving, being able to adapt quickly has never been more important. Many creators are taking advantage of solutions like contactless check-in and online ticketing to help meet social distancing requirements. 

While limiting the number of people that can be in your space at one time might seem challenging, creators from a wide variety of events are using “time slots” to manage the flow of attendees. 

How time slots work

Creating time slots with Recurring Events is all about organization. You’ve probably interacted with recurring events before. If you’ve been on a walking tour, signed up for a lecture series, or even visited a haunted house, you’ve most likely had to select a time slot when you purchased your ticket.

But nowadays more businesses need a simple way to control the flow of people through their doors. Time slots could help a farmer’s market stagger their customers, or simplify the ticketing process for a museum. 

As we’ll see, time slots are perfect for quickly setting up attendance parameters that meet social distancing guidelines. Along with features like the Organizer app, they can even help track attendees and simplify contactless payment and check-ins. 

Keeping an eye on attendance with time slots

One example of a business that’s made strides organizing socially distant events is Cosley Zoo in Wheaton, Illinois. Current guidelines in the state require that event spaces like zoos operate at 25% capacity. With its recent reopening, the zoo needed to find a way to meet these specifications while continuing to draw in visitors. 

“We didn’t have a software platform in place to do reservations, since all of our entries before the pandemic were walk-ups,” explains Tami Romejko, the zoo’s Education & Guest Experience Manager. “Now we’re actually using Eventbrite for our timed entries for general admission.”

Quickly establishing a reservation system was key to reopening, and the flexibility and precision of Eventbrite’s ticketing services helped. “We needed a platform that would let you pick the day and time that you’re going to come to the zoo,” Romejko says. 

Time slots set to 15-minute increments have helped the zoo carefully manage the number of attendees in the zoo at one time. “We’re doing attendance on a rolling hourly basis now, with 150 people an hour,” Romejko said. “So we’re limiting tickets to about 37 individuals for each 15 minute entry time.”

And while the zoo has seen success regulating attendance, they’ve also benefited from better data collection. By using custom fields in its order forms, Cosley Zoo has also been able to collect required information from attendees at the end of their registration process, helping the zoo comply with screening requirements.

Online ticketing and pre-registration also helped the zoo gather new information about its attendees, which will help them adjust their marketing in the future. “We’re getting much more accurate numbers on our demographics,” Romejko explains. “Having all of these tickets through Eventbrite has definitely given us the ability to break down our audience more specifically.” 

Making things simple with online ticketing

Time slots also helped the National Museum Wales control its flow of visitors. Since the museum is made up of seven different sites spread throughout Wales, they needed to find a way to tailor their ticketing experiences as they started reopening.

For a branch like St. Fagans National Museum of History, an open-air site spanning a hundred acres, that meant considering visitor expectations when it came to parking. 

If you’ve pre-booked your ticket, then you’re going to expect to turn up and have a car parking space, especially if you paid for it beforehand,” explains Mared Maggs, Head of Events. “For St. Fagans, we ended up having one time slot, because we couldn’t agree on a turnaround time for those parking spaces.”

Setting up the right time slots for each site was critical for the museum. Some used multiple time slots throughout the day, while smaller museums used one time slot for the morning and one for the afternoon. Beyond time slots, the museum also found that Eventbrite made it easier to customize other aspects of the visitor experience. 

“All the functions that Eventbrite offers — from adding a waiver to sending out emails automatically — have really supported our goals,” Maggs says. “As soon as we figured out what we needed for each site, we were able to adjust their pages immediately.”

The museum’s also seen success using flexible ticket types to increase commitment and streamline the visitor process. At St. Fagans, for example, the typically free experience was converted to a paid ticket that includes parking.

“Now we manage all our car parking fees before people have even turned up,” Maggs says. “Which also means there’s a little bit more commitment, because it’s not a free ticket anymore, so we’re seeing a far lower dropout rate at St. Fagans.” 

Maggs also points out how the new ticketing system has helped the museum better track feedback. “The way we collected visitor feedback before was through lots of different avenues,” Maggs said. “Whereas now we’re able to channel feedback from every single person who comes in.” 

Creators can use Eventbrite’s SurveyMonkey integration to import attendee emails directly into their SurveyMonkey account and send custom post-event surveys, or they can use the Email to Attendees tool to follow up with their attendees after the event and collect their feedback.

Because the museum can send out emails to recent visitors at the end of each day, their response rate is higher than it was before. “It’s great because they’ll get an email almost immediately after their visit, when it’s still in their consciousness,” Maggs says. 

As the museum keeps moving forward, they’ll need to continue adjusting to the changing environment. “Eventbrite has really been quite integral for us, helping to get innovative stuff out of the traps,” Maggs says. “It’s made refocusing our events so much easier.” 

Moving forward

Event organizing is going to keep evolving as businesses adapt to changing social distancing requirements. There are plenty of spaces that stand to benefit from creating time slots using Recurring Events, from food and drink festivals to open air cinemas, pools, markets, and other popular attractions. This self-service feature is quick and easy to use, making it seamless to regulate your events and practice safe social distancing. Hopefully this article has given you some ideas about how to navigate evolving restrictions and move your business forward. If it has, consider setting up online ticketing for your next event today

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