Operator Guide

Landscaping and the

customer experience Using landscaping to maintain social distancing and safety

The attractions sector has been amongst the hardest hit by the economic impacts of the coronavirus. From tentative openings, the sector now needs to embrace social distancing - because, whether we like it or not, it looks set to be part and parcel of everyday life for some time to come. Saul Huxley, organic development director at leading UK grounds maintenance services and landscape provider idverde, explains how landscaping can play a central part in maintaining social distancing and ensuring guest safety.

Attractions – from theme parks to visitor centres to amusement attractions – now have an obligation to take measures to protect guests, staff and anyone else on-site from Covid-19. While ensuring safety is the highest priority, the issue of anxiety amongst guests should also not be underestimated (particularly in the rush to open). Temperature checks at admittance, draconian signage and face masks all create a different experience for your guests, but it is one you can combat with a sympathetic environment that does not feel like a war zone.

While measures like those seen in retail can be applied to larger spaces, they can also be problematic as the flow of footfall is less controlled than in a small store. We all understand the difficulties of containing excitable children when they see their favourite ride, the throngs that congregate on a busy summer day, and the need to reduce dwell time – while at the same time guiding guests to vendors and maximising revenues. So how can attractions help maintain guests’ safety, minimise anxiety and still make sure the spaces they are responsible for are pleasant and welcoming?

The challenges of Covid-19 for landcaping attractions We have seen numerous innovative methods to support social distancing – for example, in Florence, Italy, the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore is giving visitors electronic lanyards that vibrate and let them know when they come within two metres of one another. However, we believe one of the most effective methods remains one of the simplest to implement, namely manipulating the environment in which your visitors operate. Customer experience is so imperative, more so now than ever, and carefully considered landscaping is one of the most effective and attractive ways of making areas compliant with


social distancing. Incorporating social distancing into public spaces may present multiple challenges for attractions, but there are multiple landscaping methods that can be used, many of which are already being successfully used in spaces large and small. Both Malton Town Council and the Soho BID Group in Birmingham have found that something as simple as planters can be an attractive and cost-effective way of helping to control traffic and parking. There is no reason why they can’t also be used to help manage visitor numbers and create one-way systems, while brightening up public spaces at the same time.

Social distancing

In our experience, there is plenty of scope to adjust existing set-ups so that they factor in Covid-19 social distancing restrictions. This involves taking a step back and reviewing how spaces are used from a brand new perspective, and attractions should also consider their own experience of queue management – which can also be called on to guide people in the direction you want them to go.

Measures used to maintain social distancing

don’t have to be utilitarian. For example, consider bespoke planters, which can be used as cornerstones and aesthetically pleasing signage holders. Adding well-designed, bordered pathways, meanwhile, deters customers from veering from the main walkways. Using smart landscaping, such as raised and lowered areas, can create a feeling of flow.

The importance of landscape design If you work in attractions, you know that there is no denying the positive impact of well-designed landscapes. Paying attention to those finer details can really take your attraction to a new level. But it can also add so much to the customer experience, as well as meet social distancing rules. The good news is, most landscaping solutions can be adapted to cater for change, even if it

just means making subtle tweaks here and there. For example, widening footpaths so that they can be used by two people at a time and wheelchair users. Incorporating several stopping points along the way and plenty of seating. These measures allow attractions to create space between passers- by and a flow of traffic that is much easier to manage.

Multiple challenges – one landscaping solution Landscaping can help attraction teams make social distancing happen relatively easily and enhance their environments and people’s wellbeing at the same time. And it’s an investment that doesn’t just have to be made for the here and now; it’s an investment that can provide widespread benefits in the long-term and can continue to be built upon.

About the company

Idverde is a leading European provider of grounds maintenance services and landscape creation projects, with an annual turnover of €700m and over 7,000 colleagues operating throughout the UK, France, and the Netherlands. Offering a holistic range of services to support the creation, maintenance and management of landscapes throughout the UK, the company works with both public and private sector clients to deliver bespoke solutions for each project’s unique challenges.


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