How to blend pool safety and member experience this summer

The summer sun is bearing down and pool season has arrived. Facilities across the country are gearing up to welcome crowds back after a challenging year. Most state restrictions are being lifted gradually, allowing people to return with relatively relaxed regulations in place.

With each state setting its own guidelines, pools have been allowed a little liberty to manage their facilities this year. But with only a little over 50% of American adults being fully vaccinated, the risks are only slightly mitigated as people visit pools to beat the heat.

How to reopen your swimming pool safely in 2021?

The vaccination drive across the country is a real boon but it may be a few more months before everybody is fully vaccinated. During this time, the safety of your members still needs to be prioritized. Here's how your pool can create a better experience while maintaining social distancing and sanitization during sessions.

Factor in vaccinations

Prioritize safety at your swimming pool until everybody is vaccinated

Perhaps the main difference for pools opening this year will be the vaccinations taking place across the country. As of June 14, about 1.11 million doses are being administered on average per day, but the nature of distribution across states and further across counties means that a lot of counties are still lagging behind the national average. In states like Idaho, Wyoming, and Utah to the West as well as states to the Southeast, including Georgia, Arkansas, Alabama, and Mississippi, among others, vaccination of all residents is still in the early 30% range.

This makes it wise to take a closer look at vaccination data in your state and county before setting your own guidelines. You can also do a quick survey of your members to see how many of them have been fully vaccinated or ask them to mention their status before booking a slot. This would help you protect the more vulnerable members like children or the elderly who may have not been vaccinated yet. It would also help you frame safety guidelines and manage capacity in a way that works best for your members.

Optimize for space

Restrict swimmers to lanes to ensure social distancing

Ensuring social distancing means your space is limited within and outside the water, but that doesn't mean you can't optimize without compromising safety. Aside from managing capacity, you can manage distancing with the help of signs with ‘6 Feet Apart’ and marking spaces with tape where necessary.

In the water, however, it can be a little more of a challenge to do so. While you're relaxing your capacities, it can be a delicate balance to maintain within the pool with more people waiting to dive in.

The best way to do this would be to restrict swimmers to lanes. That way the pool is a lot more organized and it would be easier for swimmers to maintain a safe distance from each other. But restricting people to lanes is just half the job done. Why stop there when you can double your capacity without any additional risk for your members? With tools like the lane-wide FINIS Turnmaster, this can now be done without having to go to the trouble of installing a bulkhead. 

Stay on top of sanitization

Making a quick pool sanitization checklist will help you clean up faster

As much as we may know the importance by now, it's only human to miss something on the list! So to help you out, we've made a list of the various touch points you will need to sanitize between sessions.

  1. Door handles 
  2. Reception desk
  3. Water dispensers
  4. Sinks, faucets, paper towel dispensers, and flush levers
  5. Ladders and handrails
  6. Switches and buttons in common areas 
  7. Lockers and key card readers

It would be ideal for the staff to sanitize between sessions and minimize any potential contact with members. Additionally, members can also be encouraged to sanitize before and after coming into contact with any of the above surfaces during sessions.

Be sure to manage crowding in indoor spaces as they increase the risk of spreading the virus. You can limit the number of people who can use locker rooms, showers, and other indoor spaces simultaneously and ensure the rules are followed by all.

Capacity management

Fix and manage capacity based on what works best for your members

1. Fix your upper limit 

Some states may be easing restrictions to allow pools to operate closer to their maximum capacities but you can decide what works best for your facility before making any decision. This can depend on a few factors that define the crowd at your facility -

  • Your state's guideline on capacities
  • Your total member count
  • Active members/regulars
  • Tendency to follow regulations among members
  • The general sentiment among members 

An important point to note is that even if your state is easing restrictions with not enough in your county being fully vaccinated, then it would be wise to consider this while setting your capacity to protect vulnerable groups among your members. 

2. Simplify reservations and ensure fair access

Figuring out the limit is just the first step. The process gets a lot more complicated and time-consuming when you have to make registrations, ensure fair access to all members, and schedule slots effectively with a buffer time for sanitization. In 2020, this was where most pools turned towards technology through booking software solutions.

Booking software has been building steadily over the years and in fact, the value of the market is expected to reach $360 million by 2024. Last year, however, these solutions turned into an effective lifeboat that helped everyone from Home Owners' Associations (HOA) and Condominium Owners' Associations (COA) to public pools and other facilities across the country.

In fact, our platform was among the leading solutions that helped pools navigate through the uncertainty and challenges that pools faced in 2020, with over 1000 swimming pools signing up through the season. With Omnify, pool owners were able to simplify their operations with a robust platform that automated reservations, collected member data, ensured members could only book a certain number of times in a given time frame, allowed contactless check ins, and enabled effortless scheduling at a time when facility staff and managers were overwhelmed with managing safety and social distancing.

Take a fresh look at member experience

Now that pool managers and staff have effectively mastered online reservations, it is time to leverage this newfound efficiency to improve their member experience. As you welcome your members back and leave the year that was behind, it is important to move forward with caution, but find ways to do so while keeping your members in mind. Thankfully, there’s plenty of technology to help with that! Here’s how you can use Omnify to deliver a better experience to your members this year.

1. Mitigate risks and liability
Mitigate liability with a waiver to be signed by members before booking

The best way to counter the spread of a virus, beyond the usual sanitization measures, is to trace the spread. At your facility, you can do your bit by collecting as much data as you can from your members before they book a session. You could ask your members to fill out a COVID-19 form that pops up before booking on our platform. This will help you collect information on each member’s travel history, current state of health, and vaccination status so you can be aware of any potential risks during sessions.

At the same time, Omnify provides a liability waiver that will have to be signed before the booking can be completed. Members will be made aware of their own responsibilities and a paperless process makes it safer for everyone.

Download these free COVID-19 templates for swimming pools and protect your members and facility this summer:

COVID-19 Self-Declaration Form

COVID-19 Liability Waiver Form

2. Simplify Check-ins
Ensure check-ins take up minimum time and interactions to be safe

Considering staff and member interactions will need to be kept to a minimum for the foreseeable future, check-ins could be one place where facilities try to limit interface with members. With Omnify, you can enable your members to check in based on their convenience. The platform provides members with two options that keep in mind the difference in comfort levels people might have with technology.

Omnify allows contactless check-ins for people comfortable with technology, where all they would need to do is scan a QR code that takes them to a check-in page. A tap on the 'Check-In' button completes the process.

For those who may not be comfortable with this, the process is equally simple, albeit without their own use of technology. Staff can check-in such members with their first name and no additional steps, so the process is minimal for everyone.

3. Personalize communication
Personalized communication with members improves their experience

A key aspect of member experience lies in the quality of communication between you and your members. A personal touch always leaves one smiling and shows you care about their patronage. Omnify enables this personalization with automated emails at every step of the member journey, right from the moment they sign up till the end of their session.

Automating emails also means not missing an update again, while saving valuable time and effort for the team.

Omnify has been building a reputation among amenity managers, HOAs, COAs, sports facilities, and fitness centers across the country for a constantly developing platform that caters to its clients' needs. 

If you would like to know more about our platform and its applications, sign up for a quick demo today!

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