Adapting Operations in a Changing Environment from Gina Claassen
As corporate safety director for Herschend Family Entertainment’s 23 locations and wide range of attractions, Gina Claassen has a much experience with adapting operations to changing circumstances. During her keynote session at IAAPA Virtual Conference: EMEA and APAC, September 22 to 24, she’ll be sharing her insights on transitioning your operations to the needs of our current time. Gina shares ways operators are already equipped to do what’s required of today’s environment:
Your session tackles transitioning operations to our current circumstances. In short, what do we need now?
Gina Claassen: We are a resilient industry where our focus has always been on the safety of our guests and employees. 2020 has certainly not been what we anticipated, but the focus remains the same. One day we will look back and appreciate how much better we are as operators because of these challenges.
You've had a long history in the attractions industry--how were you able to apply learnings from your past experiences to manage our current unprecedented times?
I think operators are naturally wired with a whatever-it-takes attitude. We thrive when challenged, and we have a unique ability to adapt and overcome. Operators deal with some sort of crisis almost daily. This allows us to be somewhat prepared for anything, have a drive to find a solution, and be flexible so that we can pivot as the situation changes. And lastly, none of us could do any of this without our peers, colleagues, and leaders. The phrase “we are all in this together” is so cliché, but so accurate during these times.
How would you define the outcome of a successful transition to the needs of our modern day?
There is not a one-size fits all approach. The definition of a successful transition is going to vary from business to business. Additionally, we are still in a very fluid situation and the end-game (meaning what our new normal will look like) remains cloudy. We need to stay abreast to the situation and use our flexibility to keep moving us forward.
If you had to narrow it down, what three skills do operations professionals already have in their arsenal to handle the changes they will need to make?
I would say we never back down from a challenge, and COVID-19 has certainly brought a wide array of challenges. We are solution minded, and we have an ability to adapt to the situation. Additionally, I would add that we remain calm under pressure. In the sports world, you often hear the phrase, “he or she had ice water in their veins,” meaning they were able to keep calm in a pressure situation, such as making the game winning play. In my opinion, operators have this trait as well.
What do you hope conference attendees gain from your keynote address?
2020 has been tough on all of us. As much as we would like to forget, it’s certainly going to be a year that we remember. And moving forward to 2021 brings a continued level of uncertainty. I won’t be delivering a message that has the magic solution, but I hope the attendees will be inspired. I hope they hear and believe that we will come out on the other side as better operators. And lastly, I want them to know that there are good resources available to share best practices and help each of them develop the appropriate actions that meets their definition of success.