COVID-19 Contact Tracing Digital Tools For Hospitality and Tourism

Introduction

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For Tasmanian tourism and hospitality operators, it is exciting to be able to reopen fully to the public. But new rules in effect from November 13 2020, mean all hospitality venues, where patrons remain on-site to eat or drink, are required to record contact details of each individual or one person from each group of patrons at the venue. This information will be used in the event of a COVID-19 outbreak to quickly and accurately be able to trace and contact people and notify them in the event of a COVID-19 outbreak. This factsheet helps you to understand how you can gather the required information from your guests and store it safely as quickly and easily as possible so you can comply with regulations and keep your patrons safe and happy.

What data do I collect - and what can I do with it?

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COVID-19 data is for a specific purpose: to have accurate up to date information about your patrons which can be quickly and easily provided to Public Health officials in the event there is a COVID-19 outbreak and one of your customers was potentially infected. The venue operator is required to collect the full name, phone number, date and time of an individual patron or one member from a group of patrons who dine in or have drinks on the premises. This information has to be accurate and available for 28 days after collection and once that time has passed it can be destroyed.

The details provided to you for COVID-19 records cannot be used for any other purpose and privacy requirements apply to the maintenance of the information. Which means you have to keep the information safe over the 28 days you are storing it. The information is only to be provided to Public Health or Work Safe Tasmania inspectors if requested and can't be used for any other purpose. Just think of it as information gathering specifically for Public Health. Most importantly, don't be tempted to add the details to your marketing database. This is a significant breach of privacy in relation to the reason the data was collected (and provided).

Citizens give over their information to assist in the current pandemic management and its aftermath. There is already public concern about giving out personal data, so make sure you comply. If you want to use the opportunity of already asking customers to provide some details to also ask them to opt in to your mailing list, make sure you are very clear that they are additionally giving consent, and explicitly do so on the form they are giving their information to you on in writing. If you are at all concerned with muddying the waters of what you are asking, save your request for sign up for another time, or give them an incentive to do so with discounts or giveaways when they are settling up.

Key usability elements

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When it comes to contact tracing, it is best to approach it from a systems perspective and try and integrate it with your normal booking systems. It is likely the requirement for contact tracing will be around for a while, so better to embed in your systems and practices and have both staff and customers see it as part of the experience. A range of options exists to help you fulfill your contact tracing requirements, from basic to sophisticated. When choosing how you are going to comply, consider the impacts on your staff, your customers, your workflow in peak periods, the affordability over a mid to long-term, security of the personal data, accuracy and ease of provision to Public Health officials. Let's look at these in a little more detail.

Impacts on staff and customers

Contact tracing still feels very new, as staff and customers we are all learning to do things differently. If you consider that only a few months ago we didn't sanitise our hands constantly, didn't wear facemasks and still shook hands, you can see how quickly we adapt to new situations. Right now, giving over personal data every time you dine or stop for a Tasmanian pinot takes some getting used to. While the majority of people will be happy to comply, there will still be situations where sensitivity and compassion apply. For staff in your venue and patrons, the process has to be simple and intuitive, with as little interruption to the reason they are there - to enjoy good times, delicious food and beverages with friends, colleagues and/or family. As with all business systems from booking to paying, customers just want it to be seamless and as integrated as possible. For staff it needs to add minimum friction to customer engagement and enjoyment.

Workflow in peak periods

One of the issues of manual contact data collection to date has been the choke points at the entry to venues, which have been a headache for some business owners and a hassle for patrons. Considering a contact tracing option that allows accurate data to be collected before arrival and confirmed quickly on arrival alleviates this issue.

Affordability

The range of options for digital contract tracing covers a spectrum from electronic spreadsheets, to DIY in-house options to more sophisticated digital contact tracing with vendor and consumer-facing app sites which have the capacity for integration with other booking, ordering and payment systems. This allows affordability no matter what your budget, but keep in mind that this is potentially an ongoing mandatory requirement for your business, and as such may well become an investment into smooth customer flow and satisfaction. Like all digital tools, the value for money is in the functionality it provides your business and how it creates additional transactions, makes you money, or saves you money.

Accuracy + Security of personal data

Another headache for businesses and officials with early attempts at contract tracing has been human error or evasion. Asking people to manually give personal data has meant that forms were often filled in incorrectly or key details like phone or email contact left out. Using a digital tool that enables some form of validation through a third party sign-in (like Google or Facebook) or has a 2 Factor Authentication (2FA) means that you are assured the data you are collecting is accurate and the contact can be traced if required. With the provision for data to be held for 28 days after being collected, data security has to be ensured, and the same types of provisions you would put in place for your marketing database needs to be upheld for this data. For more on cybersecurity, have a look at our factsheet. You also have to delete or destroy the information after 28 days, which means you need to have some kind of protocol to know what data is due for deletion and set up a process to ensure that happens.

Ease of provision to Public Health officials

The reason for all of this collection is that if there is a COVID-19 outbreak and a person has been at your venue and your patrons exposed to them, you can quickly provide relevant data to Public Health officials under the Public Health Act, and your customers can be alerted to potential exposure and take the relevant testing and quarantine measures. At a minimum, having a digital record means that you are able to store data electronically and provide instantly on request.

Contact tracing tool options: Basic, DIY, or App.

As mandatory contact tracing comes into action on 13 November 2020, the need for businesses to get prepared is paramount. Here are some of the available options to make sure your hospitality or tourism business is compliant. Remember, this applies to all hospitality and tourism venues, where patrons remain on-site to eat or drink.

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Basic:

If you want to get super basic, you can use the template provided by WorkSafe Tasmania, which is a downloadable PDF. This could be printed out and manually filled in by staff and patrons, but if you do use this, consider the implications of all that analog data from a safety, data management, and provision perspective. If you want a free digital option that patrons can fill out, you could make a Jotform to gather their basic information, have it loaded on a tablet or iPad, and get patrons to fill it in or email the link to them to fill in before they arrive for their booking. Jotform sends information per form by email, and the emails would then have to be collated and managed for 28 days. The information would be largely unverified (although the email would be verified) and relies on accuracy when inputting, but would do the job. This would be suitable for a small venue with predictable sittings and largely existing bookings.

DIY:

If you want to step up your contact tracing efforts but still do it yourself, you can use existing products like Google forms to create your own contact tracing system using a QR code linked to the form. The QR code can be printed out and put on each table, and patrons can scan the code, add in their details via the Google form, and the data is safely stored in the cloud and able to be downloaded in an excel spreadsheet if it needs to be provided to Public Health officials. To learn how a Hobart bar and restaurant is using this method, check out the Institute Polaire case study below. There are some minor costs involved with this method - printing out stickers, the user subscription to the Google suite of products, but for a small to medium enterprise, it is a cost-effective and sustainable interim system.

Case Study: Institut Polaire DIY Contact Tracing Solution

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Institut Polaire is a boutique, premium wine bar and dining venue near Hobart's waterfront. Like so many other iconic Tasmanian hot spots, when COVID-19 hit, the venue was closed from late March, reopening in mid-September. With seating restrictions in place, the wine bar space seats 45 people, while an intimate function room for private bookings is also available.

Co-owner Louise Radman is as passionate about compliance as she is her sourcing of ethical produce from local growers, fishers and farmers. Ensuring Institut Polaire is a welcoming, fun AND safe space for all her staff and patrons is an important priority. To comply with the government advice on contact tracing, Louise created her own contact tracing system using a tailored DIY approach.

As a Google Suite subscriber, Louise had access to Google forms and created a cloud-based digital form to capture names, phone numbers, emails, state of residence and most importantly each entry is date and time-stamped. Each table has a QR code printed on a sticker, customers can hold their smartphones over the QR code sticker and are immediately taken to the Google form to fill in online.

The Google form was chosen as it was easy to create and customise, easy to fill, could be hosted on the Institut Polaire website and works equally well across devices. Data is stored in the cloud and can be downloaded as an excel file and provided to the appropriate authorities as needed. In the cloud, data is secure and once the 28-day threshold is reached, can be easily deleted.

Dining customers of the venue often book online, but walk-ins are frequent and welcome. This way customers are able to pre-fill details or complete the Google form upon arrival. The QR code is recognized without patrons needing to download anything to their phone, and even the least technically minded guest can use it easily. Institut Polaire staff also have a roving iPad to enable them to assist guests if required.

Louise said customers are glad to be compliant, with many automatically filling in their details once they sit down and see the QR code sticker. The policy of the venue is to have as many people as possible give their details to ensure maximum data is available for Public Health officials should it be required. While there is a voluntary check box for customers to subscribe to marketing from Institut Polaire, it is clearly marked as an opt-in, and the team is very circumspect about ensuring data given for COVID-19 compliance is quarantined for its specified purpose.

As summer heats up, national borders open and tourists and locals alike are returning to the beauty of Hobart's waterfront, Institut Polaire has created an elegant, simple, affordable and user-friendly solution to ensuring safety and compliance meet the same exacting standards as their quality dining experience and award winning wine list.

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App based:

For medium to larger more complex venues like pubs, clubs and large food venues where getting lots of visitors in the venue quickly and smoothly is key, using a purpose-built contact tracing app developed for hospitality will ensure that venues are meeting their compliance obligations, and that the majority of the safety, security, privacy and tracing needs are met. These types of products need to be seen as part of a whole of business system, and ideally be able to be integrated with booking systems, POS, customer flow management, and even ordering.

The Tasmanian built and owned system endorsed by the Tasmanian Hospitality Association is Book-Eat-SAFE, an app that is both customer and vendor facing. This style of app has a two-tier pricing approach, with a freemium model specifically for contact tracing with a check-in feature that can be activated on arrival at the venue by customer once the app has been downloaded, and a subscription model for a wholly integrated booking and tracing system that can take deposits, manage time spent in venue, allocate tables and enable food ordering alongside contact tracing. The subscription model is being offered to free to Tasmanian hospitality and tourism businesses for the first four months to assist businesses to manage their expenses as they rebuild custom. Follow the link for more information on the Book-Eat-SAFE app and how to access it. To see how Tasmanian hotel Sporties is using the app check out the case study below. You can also download freemium national contact tracing apps like this one by BGL.

Case Study: How Sporties Hotel uses the Book-Eat-SAFE App for contact tracing.

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If you are a Launceston local, a visitor or homecoming expat, chances are you have taken down a generous parmy, taken the top off a pot or a glass of local bubbles, caught up with mates and cheered on your footy team at Sporties.

A true local pub experience, owner Nick Daking was as devastated as his customers and staff when COVID19 kept everyone at home. Re-opening under the new compliance guidelines was challenging, especially managing customer flow and bookings, until he began using the Book-Eat-SAFE app.

Before the Sporties staff started using the Book-Eat-SAFE app, a dedicated staff member had to take customer details and monitor headcounts manually. A predictable number of Batman and Robins registered, making compliance a headache and worse - the real risk of inaccuracy if there were a COVID19 breakout that needed to be traced.

The Book-Eat-SAFE app is a Tasmanian built app created in consultation with the hospitality industry to ensure it not only meets the Government’s compliance legislation, but is simple, easy and affordable for vendors to adopt and integrate with their existing systems. A freemium model, you can sign up for the COVID19 contact tracing element for free.

The app is also free for customers, once they have signed up and validated their contact details, with just three clicks they are booked at their favourite venue, it even has the capacity to pay a deposit if required.

The introduction of the app has transformed how Nick manages busy times at Sporties, keeps his venue at maximum capacity, keeps his customers and staff safe and knows in real time who is on premises. The booking function has streamlined the experience for customers, who can show up knowing they won’t miss out on a spot at a table or at the bar with COVID19 space limitations.

One of the many benefits of the Book-Eat-SAFE App is the capacity to assure customers of the safety of their data, an issue that has been a concern with some of the less transparent data collection methods using people’s details for unsolicited marketing.

The app is encrypted end to end so the data can only be unlocked by relevant Public Health officials if there is a COVID19 outbreak. For added impenetrability it is stored in an off-site server that can’t be hacked, and after the required 28 days all personal data is automatically deleted.

On the weekend the app went live at Sporties, the venue checked over 320 people through the doors with a single click of a QR code on arrival. Nick is such a convert to the ease and compliance of the Book-Eat-SAFE app he wants everyone in the Tasmanian hospitality and tourism sector to use it, endorsing a whole of industry approach to ensure that information is consistently managed.

Nick says that using the Book-Eat-SAFE app means doors can stay open and any COVID19 cases can be quickly traced, ensuring that businesses in Tasmania can make the most of the peak season and punters can enjoy all that Tasmania has to offer in their favourite venues. To download the app for your venue, there is a free trial for 4 months to support the Tasmanian hospitality sector. Go to www.bookeatsafe.com.au/vendor fill the form and the Book-Eat-SAFE team will contact you to make the arrangements - its that simple.

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