In this blog @Hewittroberts, CEO – @Certainty Software talked with @TherrinProtze, who is Chief Operating Officer of Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex for Delaware North, a global hospitality and entertainment company that operates the visitor complex for NASA. Protze is part of a team planning for the reopening of about 200 Delaware North operating locations that have closed or suspended most of their operations in the wake of COVID-19. His focus has included how Delaware North can use Certainty software to tackle reopening challenges across their business.
Headquartered in Buffalo, New York, Delaware North operates at high-profile places such as sports and entertainment venues, national and state parks, destination resorts and restaurants, airports, and regional casinos. Before COVID-19 hit in March, the company employed over 55,000 people worldwide and had over $3.7 billion in annual revenues.
Delaware North’s portfolio of landmark operating locations includes:
- Operating concessions, premium dining and retail at over 25 major league sports venues, including in NFL, MLB, NHL and NBA venues.
- Owning and operating a portfolio of regional casinos and gaming venues;
- Lodging, retail and restaurants at Yellowstone National Park, Grand Canyon and other national parks;visitor services at Niagara Falls State Park, operating all aspects of Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex;and owning and operating Tenaya Lodge at Yosemite, Sea Crest Beach Hotel on Cape Cod and other destination lodging.
- The Patina Restaurant Group, with outlets in Lincoln Center, Walt Disney World, Disneyland, LA Music Center, the Empire State Building, Grand Central Terminal/MetLife Building and Madison Square Garden.
- Food, beverage and retail at numerous airports and travel centers throughout the United States, Australia and United Kingdom.
- Owning and operating TD Garden in Boston, home of the Boston Bruins and Boston Celtics and host to numerous major concerts and other events.
As COVID-19 shutdowns ease and lockdown orders are lifted, Delaware North is faced with the Herculean task of planning, preparing for and safely reopening its operating locations.
With endless unknowns about COVID-19, a challenged global economy and no real-life pandemic experience to draw on, Protze and the business resumption team at Delaware North recognized the challenges involved:.
- Who could assist and provide additional guidance on COVID-19?
- How should they respond to and manage future confirmed or presumptive cases of COVID at their locations?
- How should they monitor employee health and hygiene?
- What changes do they need to make to regular cleaning and sanitizing at their locations?
- How should they manage and monitor social distancing guidelines and requirements?
Protze and his team felt confident that they could rise to this challenge, and I caught up with him by phone in early May to discuss how Delaware North went about planning this project, what have been the most significant challenges and how the team managed these challenges to prepare to safely reopening Delaware North globally.
How are your planning the reopening of Delaware North businesses?
One key part of our planning has been using Certainty as our management platform and the COVID-19 Reopening for Business checklist that the Certainty team created (and available here) to supplement our own business resumption checklists, standards and procedures.
Certainty will be used for the creation, dissemination, and companywide reporting on the adherence to these new standards and procedures.
We will have some people on our team working on enterprise-wide standards and the corporatewide data collection based on these checklists. Others in our team will work with our operating subsidiaries in gaming, travel, and parks and likely work closely with those businesses to make any required location-specific checklist additions.
We will launch these checklists company-wide as we begin to re-open our locations such as Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex and some of the parks locations we operate.
As a business with more than 200 locations worldwide, what are the biggest challenges you face with respect to reopening after this pandemic?
The biggest challenge we face is gaining customer confidence and being able to do everything we can to help ensure the safety of all of our visitors – each and every one of them – whether they are visiting Yellowstone National Park, Southland Casino or TD Garden.
Once we do that, then the next real challenge will be trying to figure out what the ”New Normal” will look like, how are we going to respond to this and how are our customers going to react? We know things are changing, so how do we adapt to continually ensure customer confidence?
Right now, we are following the CDC guidelines, but the challenge going forward will be adjusting to a ”New Normal” and putting in place the right feedback mechanisms to ensure we are continually addressing what is needed.
How are you going about solving these challenges?
One way is with Certainty, which provides a true platform where we can ensure all the standards created are tracked, followed and reported on a regular basis to create accountability across Delaware North.
We will have enterprise standards that will be a minimum compliance requirement, and then each location can create its own additional checklist. That’s how we will roll it out.
Our COVID Re-opening Checklist will be highly effective, and it includes videos, visuals and links to online training.
Everybody at Delaware North really likes Certainty because it’s easy to work with. We feel very comfortable with it.