Getting Guests to Mask Up
When Renaissance Fun Park reopened after 84 days in mid-June due to the COVID-19 pandemic, management enforced a strict mask policy inside the facility.
“We won’t sell anything to a guest not wearing a mask,” explains Sharon Marcum, co-owner of the family entertainment center (FEC) in Louisville, Kentucky. “They’re told about the mask policy before they ever spend any money, so they can follow the rules or choose to spend their time somewhere else. This step helps because we’re not surprising anyone.”
And in case people show up to the park without a mask, Renaissance sells them at cost for $1 apiece. (They keep hundreds on hand if needed.)
However, despite the clear explanation upfront—along with easy access to masks—the FEC struggled with compliance at first.
“Many took their masks off while inside,” Marcum says. “Then, when people saw others with naked faces, they just did the same.”
She knew she needed to quickly make changes for the sake of public health and safety. After some brainstorming, Marcum and her team implemented several “light peer pressure” tactics with resounding success:
- They playfully placed faux masks on many of its popular redemption items and video games. Now, when guests see the coverings on the dog plush behind the counter or the Tyrannosaurus rex on the Jurassic Park shooter, it subtly reminds them to stay masked up.
- Employees call out people who drop their masks around the neck by making eye contact with the offender and tapping their own masks.
- If non-verbal cues don’t work, employees will ask, “Hey, would you mind putting your mask back on for me while you’re inside?” (The FEC doesn’t require masks while using its outdoor attractions, like mini-golf and go-karts.)
Mask compliance rose to nearly 100 percent after implementing these simple measures, and Marcum received universal praise from her staff for taking swift action. However, employees still must occasionally deescalate situations where guests refuse to wear their masks.
For these potentially tricky circumstances, Marcum provides a general script for staff: Employees tell customers there are no exceptions to the mask rule, and they can speak with the general manager for additional info. (If the guest provides their phone number, the manager also will notify them when the mask rule changes.) In addition, staff explain how the FEC could be shut down for not following these safety guidelines.
“The most aggressive person I’ve dealt with said, ‘It’s my constitutional right not to wear a mask,’” Marcum recounts. “I replied, ‘It’s the right of a business to delay service to anyone who threatens the health and safety of my employees or guests.’
"The customer stayed at the park with his family but chose to spend the majority of his time outside so he didn’t need to wear a mask,” she continues. “When he came back into the building, he was wearing it.”