Delaying Opening Day: Q&A with Leolandia's Giuseppe Ira
Italy’s Leolandia theme park has delayed its March 14 opening to comply with directives from the Italian government. The park’s president, Giuseppe Ira, talks about how the park is ramping up for a new season in the current climate.
How has your facility been impacted by COVID-19?
As a touristic attraction, the impact on our park has been, is, and will be huge. We had to postpone the opening date and stop new hiring. Even due to the massive investments put in place in the winter for new attractions, we will suffer a lot from this situation.
How are you communicating the delayed opening to the public?
We’re communicating through our digital channels (website and social media), and actively contacting all the guests that booked tickets or Park + Hotel packages in the dates when the park will be closed, to propose alternative dates of visit or guarantee a refund. Our customer service is available for any doubt and request.
What impact are you seeing on staffing?
We had to stop seasonal recruiting for about 300 people, and this of course has an impact. As for permanent staff, we all have to do our part in order to contain contagion, so we recommended smart working when possible to run normal activities remotely; for the staff that needed to work at the park, we initially put in place all the safety actions needed to prevent any risk, but we recently preferred to ask all our workers to stay safe at home.
Since you had to halt seasonal recruitment, do you have plans to find those 300 team members when you reopen?
Of course we’ll need to recruit all those team members to face our summer peak season, but we will be very cautious with hiring initially, as we have to see people’s reactions and response to the normalization of the situation. We’re going to constantly monitor online purchases and visits to maximize our efforts until families will start again to live their lives normally with no fear.
Do you anticipate any challenges to a delayed opening? How are you preparing for them?
Of course we will have challenges, because tourism and economy in general will suffer a great setback. Even at the end of the emergency, uncertainty won’t suddenly disappear, and it will take time and commitment to get back to normal operations, as people will still be worried for a while. We’re ready to meet the challenge head-on and we keep on identifying any possible protection actions in order to start doing soon what we do best: making memorable experiences live. As an industry, we’re in contact with local and central Government to ask for financial support and tax benefits.
Have you changed your approach to preparing for opening day given the current situation? Do you anticipate larger than normal crowds?
As the opening date has moved, we’re slowing down the “final rush” that we usually have before the season launch, but we’re still working to be ready across the board on all aspects. If we’ll have larger than normal crowds, we’ll be there to manage them and to make everyone have fun in complete safety.
What have you learned from your experiences that would be valuable for other members to know?
It’s very important to have a crisis management plan but, in such a situation, where we’re all powerless, it’s crucial to remain clearheaded and work with other parks as an industry for the common good.