The question everybody is asking now is – when will we get our normal lives back? The vaccines have held out the prospect of that happening in the foreseeable future, but the slow pace of vaccinations in most countries means that normality may be slow in coming. This delay is fuelling a spate of experiments with new corona-proof formats for leisure experiences.
The first sector to start leisure-testing was the events industry. In the Netherlands the Events Fieldlab launched a series of test events to try out different formats that would reduce the chance of infections. These included various forms of social distancing, different ventilation levels, wearing of masks and separate ‘bubbles’ for groups of spectators. During these events behavioural experiments were conducted to see how visitors reacted to the different settings and measures.
The reaction from consumers was enthusiastic – more than 100,000 people applied for tickets to four test events being held in March. The results of the first tests were also encouraging, with no infections being reported from the audience at the first events run in February. However, there was a crew member who tested positive. The success of experiments in the events sector has now stimulated other leisure providers to try the same. The Dutch travel industry umbrella organisation ANVR recently announced the development of ‘field labs’ for holidays. They hope that this will show that the travel industry can also organise holidays that do not contribute to increasing infections.
Keep an eye out for the fieldlab virus spreading to other areas of the leisure industry in the near future. I will be volunteering for the pub fieldlab when that comes onstream.