Quick Reaction and Planning Ahead: Q&A with Sun World’s Brad Loxley
Staff surveys, finding new partners for post-closure promotions, and staying flexible are just a few of the best practices Sun World’s properties in Vietnam have enacted during the time of COVID-19. Brad Loxley, COO of Sun World Holdings, shares his learnings.
How has your facility been impacted by COVID-19?
With multiple locations operating in Vietnam, the significant drop of tourists to the country in addition to the suggestions to avoid crowds has definitely impacted our parks. As a precaution and out of concern for the safety of our guests we have been taking multiple measures including additional cleaning activities, providing temperature checks, and installing additional hand sanitizer dispensers throughout our properties. On 18 March, a number of Sun World parks were temporarily closed based on government guidance. Our parks that are still operating in different areas of the country that are less affected are taking additional measures and are working on a reduced operating schedule.
What steps have you taken to mitigate the impact?
Our company has been proactively looking at ways to reduce costs that don’t impact safety in the likely event of drops in revenue. In addition, we’ve distributed clear standard operating procedures (SOP) on safety and measures to reduce the potential spread of the virus that can be implemented by employees and our park guests.
How are you preparing for the future?
At the moment, the situation is quite fluid and we are updating work and operating schedules for the parks, which are open and closed parks multiple times per week based on new information. Our planning and scheduling is about three months in advance due to multiple properties that are under construction and are scheduled to open later this year. During this time, we are preparing to launch new products and services to meet anticipated demand when the disease is under control. Hotels of Sun Hospitality Group and Sun World parks have also collaborated with Vietnam Airlines to launch new products and combination packages that will be launched to the market as soon as the disease is under control.
What have you learned that would be valuable for others in the industry to know?
Quick reactions are key. Providing information and actionable SOP to be implemented in the parks. Adjusting operating schedules, reviewing costs, making projections. Ensuring information comes from reputable sources and tools are available for quick communication within the team and action items are able to be put in place with expedited timelines.
Are you experiencing an impact on staffing? What response have you found effective?
Due to the proactive closure of some parks this has a significant impact on our staff. Other parks are working with a reduced operating schedule. Some responses that we have found effective include discussing via survey with all our staff what measures would be preferred by our staff to deal with the situation. In accordance with the survey results; the priority has been to provide flexible leave and working arrangements for our employees. Employees have been reassigned duties in some cases to ensure we continue to maintain the parks and keep them in a state of operational readiness so we are able to reopen as quickly as possible once the situation is resolved.
What steps are you taking to prevent the spread of virus at your facility?
In our parks we have communicated actionable items clearly since end of January about COVID-19 and what to do in case a guest or staff member has symptoms. We have made additional sanitizer available for staff and guests in addition to increasing our cleaning efforts in key areas. Social distancing is used where possible and certain positions are working from home or alternative locations. Temperature checks are used in key locations. We are tracking high-risk staff members by creating a regular report of people who are near quarantined areas or have symptoms and [include information] based on different levels of contact with proven coronavirus cases based on the government information.
How are you preparing to reopen?
Re-opening would go likely in stages with construction of new projects starting / continuing. Parks would open low risk areas first with additional safety measures like social distancing, reduced capacities, additional sanitizing efforts. Our marketing teams would create campaigns like we’ve done during the initial outbreak to highlight the safety of our parks and measures put in place. We are positive that we’re able to overcome this challenge and able to bring smiles and happiness to visitors to our attractions soon, when it’s safe to do so.