Park Spy: Do I have to wear a mask?

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The Question: I’d like to come there for the day, but do I have to wear a mask? What if I don’t have one?

Facial coverings have become a bit of a lightning rod due to the politicization of the health crisis. The Spy purposefully didn’t call as an anti-masker, because we wanted to see how staff presented mask requirements, not get into an argument over the merits of wearing a mask.

Thankfully, none of the staffers let their feelings about mask-wearing come out in answering the question. All of them stated the mask rules, with varying degrees of empathy and
thoroughness.

Send us a question for the Spy to ask! Seriously, do it. We won’t tell anyone the question came from you. Plus, if we use your question, your park will be immune for that issue! Send questions to sarah@adventureparkinsider.com.

PARK #1, WI

Answering phone: Automated message that goes into detail about COVID-19 protocols and when the session times are. Prompts people to make reservations online.

First contact: Female.

API: Stated question.

Staff: We don’t require masks outside; inside we ask that the clients use them. Our staff uses them while zip lining.

API: Ummm, OK. If I do need to go inside and I don’t have a mask with me?

Staff: We have some.

API: OK, do you know how much they are?

Staff: Honestly, I think they give ’em to you because they are the disposable ones. They might be a dollar, but I am quite sure they are free.

API: OK, and it looks like online there are just a couple times available for the adventure course? 

Staff: That is correct. You are only with your group either on the zip line or adventure course. 

API: Great. I like being with my group only. Thanks.

Staff: Thanks for calling, hope you have a nice day.

Score: 8

Comments: She was friendly, and answered my questions well. This place has a great outgoing message to let people know what to expect. 

PARK #2, GA

First contact: Female.

API: Stated question.

Staff: You do have to have it when you are within six feet of our guides. You do not have to wear it on the zip line itself, when zipping from one end to another, but you will need to have it when the guide is putting you on and taking you off.

API: OK, great. And if I don’t have a mask, do you have any that I can buy?

Staff: We do not have any for sale here. You would need a mask, or a scarf, something that goes across your face. 

API: OK, well, I might be coming in a couple weeks and just wanted to see what was in place.

Staff: Yeah, we will have these same rules in a few weeks. 

API: Thanks.

Score: 4

Comments: She was pretty nice, but definitely left me wondering how serious this place is about COVID safety. Requiring masks and not having any available for guests isn’t OK nowadays. What if I wore a disposable mask and it ripped? Would I get the boot since there aren’t any available on site? 

PARK #3, VT

Answering phone: Automated message providing all of the CDC rules, hours of operation, and letting people know to expect something different, with a CTA to go to the website for details.

First contact: Female.

API: Stated question.

Staff: Yes, you need to wear a mask. We were actually doing it before the state mandated a mask, but it is
required at all times.

API: OK, if I don’t have one, do you sell them?

Staff: Yep.

API: OK, do you know how much they are? 

Staff: They are just a dollar for the disposable ones.

API: Cool.

Staff: Yeah. We have the adventure course open, but the zip line is closed. The adventure course is open because we have so many harnesses that they go into a wash after an individual uses them. The zip line does not have as many harnesses, so we cannot sanitize them after each use, which is why it is closed.

API: That makes sense.

Staff: Anything else I can help you with?

API: Nope. Thanks! 

Score: 8

Comments: Very friendly and provided good info. Comforting to know this place was already taking safety measures before it was mandated. Good to know that masks are available, and she did a nice job explaining why some adventures are open while others are not.

PARK #4, CA

First contact: Female.

API: Stated question.

Staff: Yes, you have to wear a face covering.

API: If I don’t have one, do you sell them? 

Staff: We have bandanas you can purchase, but you pretty much can buy a face covering everywhere! It’s a state mandate, so, like, literally you can go to Walgreens, CVS, Walmart—you can purchase one anywhere.

API: Yeah, I just ask cuz I am pretty forgetful with mine.

Staff: (laughs) 

API: OK, thanks.

Staff: Sure thing. Goodbye.

Score: 4

Comments: I wasn’t trying to be funny. And she wasn’t interested in elaborating on, well, anything except where I could buy a mask. Seems she wanted to get off the phone with me pronto.

PARK #5, ID

First contact: Female.

API: Stated question.

Staff: You will need to wear a mask. They are required throughout the tour until you can safely social distance.

API: OK. So, I need to wear the mask for the entire zip line?

Staff: Yeah, you have to wear it in the shop, in the van, and then when you are on the platforms. While you are on the actual line itself you can pull it down, and when you are on the ground and can distance from other groups you can pull it down as well. 

API: Got it. And if I don’t have one?

Staff: We have extras. We have free, single use face masks, and then have the ones that go around your neck and nose that cost $8.

API: Oh, cool. So, in the van, will there be other people with me or my group only?

Staff: Our group sizes go up to nine, so if you are a group of two, chances are there would be seven other guests, plus two guides.

API: Oh.

Staff: Awesome.

API: Alright. Bye.

Score: 3 

Comments: She was a bit short with her delivery, for one. And lots of people wouldn’t be comfortable cramming into a van with a bunch of strangers during a pandemic. Her take-it-or-leave-it approach to that situation makes me want to take my business elsewhere. A little empathy goes a long way. 

PARK #6, NY

First contact: Male.

API: Stated question.

Staff: While climbing, you do not need to wear a mask, but while getting harnessed up and near our summit center, you do have to have a mask on.

API: OK.

Staff: But, again, while you are climbing you can take it off, and as soon as you zip down to the ground you have to put it back on. 

API: OK, so I have to have it in my back pocket?

Staff: Yeah, yeah.

API: And if I forget my mask, do you guys sell them?

Staff: We have paper masks. We will just give you one. We do have these—are you familiar with what a buff is? 

API: Ummmm, sorta. I think I used that for snowboarding.

Staff: Exactly. We actually have (company name) adventure buffs out here for 10 bucks, they’re kind of cool! 

API: OK, that is cool. Branded to you guys and everything?

Staff: Yep.

API: And staff will be wearing masks?

Staff: Yes. Any time they are near a customer they will have a mask on.

API: OK, cool. Sounds like you guys are taking things pretty seriously. That’s great.

Staff: We are! Anything else I can help you with?

API: No, hope to see you in a few weeks! 

Score: 9 

Comments: He politely answered all my questions and provided a couple options with a free mask or the upsell to the buff. He could have gone into a bit more depth about COVID-19 protocols and other safety measures, though. 

Identity revealed: Bristol Mountain Aerial Adventures

Debrief:

If your operation has an automated answering system, include information about your COVID safety measures, hours of operation, and direct callers to your website to find additional information. This can expedite calls from folks who have common questions, and sets the tone for what to expect. 

When guests call to get information, they do not always know the right questions to ask. That applies especially during our current COVID era. Train your staff to ask before ending the call, “Is there anything else I can help you with?” Or, in this scenario, “Do you feel comfortable coming with our mask rules?”

It’s a little odd that not a single person asked me if I’d like to book a reservation after answering my questions. When someone calls, he or she is most likely inclined to book, and just needs some additional info before committing. No need for a hard sell, but politely offering the option will convert more people than just letting them hang up.

When it comes to masks in the age of COVID, it’s smart (if not essential) to offer free or inexpensive masks on site, and good business to upsell to a branded mask, buff, or bandana.

This is a new age of doing business. Have empathy with your customers, train your reps to be excited to share your new safety protocols, and, most of all, make your guests feel comfortable about coming to visit! Everyone has a different comfort level, so do what you can re: shuttles, group sizes, etc., to help put everyone at ease.  

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About Author

Sarah Borodaeff is the digital editor and project manager for Adventure Park Insider magazine. A professional ski bum and former zip guide, Sarah enjoys any excuse to talk about outdoor adventures.

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