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Best Practices to Handle COVID-19 Vaccine Proof at Your Restaurant

Vaccine Proof Restaurant

Your job is to sell fun, not enforce the law. What happens when you need to do both?

California, New York, Hawaii, and Oregon have all mandated proof of COVID-19 vaccines to dine in restaurants. There are 20 states in the union that has banned such requirements. More than confusing for a business owner trying to survive the times.

The government isn’t going to hand you a best practices guidebook If the restaurant you own or manage is located in a state that requires vaccines. This is a situation where guest experience management can make or break customer loyalty.

You may not have a choice to enforce the rules. But you do have a choice on how you do it. Below is a step-by-step guide on how to handle vaccine requirements at your dining establishment.

Consider the language

It’s not always what you say, but the way you say it. Slapping a printed document to the front door titled “Mandatory Proof of  COVID-19 Vaccine to Enter” isn’t the friendliest way to make guests feel welcome.

Guests may feel a little more at ease to dine in if your marketing team works up a “Safety Campaign.” This can start as simple as getting down the right messaging that your business cares about customers’ safety. It removes the stiff idea that the government forced us to do this so here we are.

But you can go further. Social media and email campaigns with thoughtful fonts and imagery announcing the policy can target a welcome emotional connection. It’s up to your team and branding to get that messaging down. But the idea to remember “How do I feel about eating here when I see this flyer?”

Prepare your staff

There’s no secret by this point: the pandemic is a controversial topic. With all we know about the virus, there is still an overabundance of misinformation out there.

Not all of your guests will be happy to hear you can’t legally serve them without a piece of paper in hand. There are a lot of scenarios that may go south. Not all of your unvaccinated guests are against the shot.

Some may have disabilities with a doctor’s recommendation to avoid the vaccine for now. Then of course children haven’t been federally approved for the vaccine. Management needs a firm grasp of what the laws mean. They need to pass that information down to staff members.

It’s not a good look when guests know more about the rules being enforced than the staff trying to enforce them. Know every little detail about how your state and city plans to enforce proof of vaccine and call the troops together in a meeting.

Don’t just go over the rules. Prepare them for unexpected scenarios that may arise. No matter what, there needs to be a plan.

Promote your policy

Technology is your friend here. Since states began reopening, more restaurants and bars have worked internet and social media more into their marketing.

Pinning your restaurant’s vaccine policy on your social media channels will let your loyal customers know what’s required to dine at your establishment. This goes back to the messaging of what that policy is. Make sure the assets you promote have a welcoming voice and logo to ensure guests don’t feel as though they’re “dining at their own risk” or being punished in some way.

Many restaurants have adapted QR codes to their menus, including outdoors. This goes a step beyond simply slapping a document to the door. That should be there, but the more warning the better.

You can add the policy to review sites like Yelp, add it to your website and tell guests who call for reservations or checking business hours.

This pandemic hasn’t ended yet. But recovering losses from 2020 is long overdue. If there’s one thing the hospitality industry has always been, it’s resilient. With the right attitude on guest experience, the industry can survive and thrive through anything.