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Steps Towards Reopening

In some parts of the UK, venues are exploring reopening and welcoming audiences back, albeit in new ways - and it is definitely not business as usual. This, the first in a series of articles, shares the experiences of these venues by looking at how audiences are responding to changes and what emerging best practice looks like.  

Tweet by Regent's Park Open Air Theatre announcing reopening with Jesus Christ Superstar

Just days after the UK Government announced the easing of lockdown restrictions for theatrical performances outdoors, Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre was one of the first venues to announce a new six week season of ‘Jesus Christ Superstar: The Concert’, along with a season of one-night comedy events. 

“We knew we had to act quickly in order to launch an outdoor season in what was left of the summer, whilst working within the constraints of the government guidelines. These constraints included a 70% reduction in audience capacity to allow for social distancing, which created a significant financial challenge. With an urgent need to get the season on-sale and to maximise the earning potential, we worked with longstanding partners Spektrix to develop a new way of selling tickets and to prepare for the anticipated customer demand”

Andy Locke, Commercial Director, Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre

The venue has been able to make it clear to audiences exactly what they can expect during their visit by using both clear customer messaging and new tools in Spektrix. Working in combination, these approaches serve to reassure audiences of an entertaining evening, despite things looking and feeling a little different. 

Socially distanced seating plan for Regent's Park Open Air Theatre

Operating with a reduced capacity, the venue has adopted a ‘bubble’ approach to seating, meaning that customers are only able to book without leaving empty seats within the bubble. These seats are only to be used by single households or ‘support bubbles’ in line with government guidance.

“As soon as the Open Air decided to stage their Summer performances, we were in constant communication with the venue leadership team to understand their requirements. We accelerated our own plans for implementing social distancing tools in the Spektrix platform, and made sure they were ready to use in time for the onsale. We’re delighted to see a world-class venue using Spektrix to lead the way for our sector as it starts to consider reopening”

Richard Bates, Director of Product, Spektrix

The venue has ensured customers are fully aware of the steps being taken to enable social distancing and the safety checks that are in place. Audiences are required to wear a face covering and will have their temperature taken upon arrival; customers are advised of these measures during the booking process and required to acknowledge them as a condition of booking. With all these new initiatives in place, there was a risk that audiences would be deterred, but a successful onsale proved that is not the case.

 “Within the first week of sales, 50% of all available seats were sold, with half of these purchased by first time attenders of the Open Air Theatre. We’re delighted that a mix of existing and new audiences are keen to join us for an extra special season and we can’t wait to reopen our gates”

Andy Locke, Commercial Director, Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre

Because Spektrix is a ‘Software as a Service’ platform, all users of the system across the UK, Ireland, the USA and Canada were able to access these tools as soon as they were released in late July. 

We will add further solutions to manage social distancing in the coming weeks, all of which are directly informed by the ongoing conversations we’re having with our users. If you’d like to talk to us about how you’re considering the management of social distancing, please do get in touch.

For more information about the Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre season, visit their website.