As facilities begin the return to normality and open up to participants once more, we’re returning to some of our previous stars of facility spotlight, with just a few questions about how they’ve adapted to the previous year with the impact of Covid, and how they’re looking to open up once more.
This week, we’re delighted to welcome our friends from Wyoming Studios, who took time out to speak to us.
- Q: How was business in the last 12-13 months under Covid restrictions?
- A: It hasn’t been an easy time for us. Business has picked up recently, but we’ve been either closed or empty for the vast majority of the time. It’s understandable. In the beginning there was still a lot of uncertainty around COVID so, once the stay at home order was lifted, the safest approach was to continue conducting groups online. For the most part, that unfortunately left Viewing Facilities out of the equation.
- Q: Are you fully operational now?
- A: We had a “soft” reopening at the end of March. At that point, only essential research was allowed to take place, so we continued to work from home, but opened up for any bookings we were able to accept.
- The guidelines have been relaxed since then and we’re now able to host any research where face to face is the most suitable methodology. This relaxation has made a big difference for us and we’re now seeing a slow, but steady, uptick in enquiries and bookings. June has been our busiest month since the start.
- Q: What preventions did you take?
- A: Initially, we looked to guidance from the government and bodies within the industry like the MRS but soon after we began speaking with other facilities around the country and the Viewing Facilities Action Group was formed. As a collective, and with help from the MRS, we were able to set a standard for COVID safety. It includes, comprehensive risk assessments, temperature checks, hand sanitization stations, social distancing, PPE, signage and training for the team.
- For us, we’ve always had flexible, modular furniture, so rearranging our spaces to allow for social distancing wasn’t difficult. Finding somewhere to store the unused tables and chairs was a little more challenging though.
- Q: How are people acting in focus groups?
- A: The vast majority have been much the same as they were before the pandemic. Everyone is now used to wearing masks, washing hands and social distancing, so they’ve been absolutely fine with our safety measures.
- There have been one or two that said they were feeling a little cautious about using public transport. That was more of a concern earlier on, with us being in Central London and people previously being encouraged not to use it. But it’s less of an issue now as people are more happy and willing to get out and about.
- Q: Do you see any change in their behaviour?
- A: If we’ve noticed any change, it’s that people often seem more excited or enthusiastic than before. Being out of the home and doing things that were previously considered “normal” are now a novelty for many of us, which makes those activities feel more fun. A couple of participants we spoke to just this week said how they were really happy to be out and speaking to actual people again.
- Q: Do you see any signs of going back to the old days?
- A: If Martin Sorrell is to be believed (and he usually is), the industry will see a frenzy of activity this summer. The optimist in me would like to think that this would result in a bumper summer and autumn for face-to-face research. But the pragmatist in me thinks it will be a while longer before we get back to pre-pandemic levels.
- We’d be naïve to think online research will fade back to previous levels of usage, but it’s clear to many now, just how important in-person interaction is. Even with the recent G7 summit, there’s been lots of talk in the media about the benefits of meeting Face to Face. Those benefits apply across all industries and are the reason why there’s still a place for Viewing facilities in this one.
FocusVision is supporting everyone getting back to facilities and streaming once more. We’ve got your back and that’s why we’ve created Project Restart.
If you’re looking to book a streaming project from a facility, use discount code RESTART and you have a whole day streaming for just $750. But rest assured, should plans change, we’ll switch your group to digital at no additional cost.