Hundreds of thousands of people look forward to holiday ice rinks. Unfortunately, this may not be the case this year. The coronavirus pandemic has caused millions of infections and thousands of deaths. As a result, states have shut down large gatherings, and this will no doubt affect ice rinks.
Initial reports have some famous ice rinks closing due to health concerns and anticipated low attendance. Many of these rinks depended on hundreds of daily visitors. They can lose thousands of dollars in overhead costs and reduced business. Closures will also be a blow for avid ice skaters who look forward to ice skating with friends and family over Christmas lights.
Despite the pandemic, all is not lost. Some holiday ice rinks are forging ahead but will need strict protocols in place for safety. For instance, the famous Cosmopolitan skating rink in Las Vegas will be going ahead as planned, limited to 60 skaters. For others, being fully operational to the public may not be possible. However, there may still be some ways that businesses and skaters can pivot to enjoy the ice sports they love so much. From going virtual to investing in synthetic ice tiles, here are some holiday ice rinks alternatives to consider.
The Businesses of Ice Rinks
Skating rinks and other holiday ice rinks may be seasonal, but the business is a multimillion-dollar market. Ice rinks make money from using the rink, concession stands, skate rentals, and even skate sharpening. Holiday ice rinks also employ hundreds of people for seasonal work. With the pandemic, rink rentals can lose millions. The ice rink market is expected to lose at least 6.3% in revenue this quarter, though many predict this number to be significantly higher.
It’s All about Safety.
While several rinks will be closed due to restrictions or profitability, for those who aren’t mandated, safety must be the top priority. Simple steps like masks, spaced out customer traffic, sanitizing equipment, and temperature checks can minimize issues. Even with safety protocols in place, there will still be a significant decline in traffic. So there are a few ways that businesses can pivot to make the most of the holiday season.
Consider Exclusive Rentals.
People love exclusivity, and for ice skating, it will be no different. To compensate for revenue, holiday ice rinks should consider renting out the rink on particular days for small corporate events like skating discos, team bonding, or fun tournaments. Companies are still looking for ways to improve their staff morale. A controlled event in an open space like ice skating can do just that. More importantly, rink owners can charge corporate rates per skater, increasing overall profit. These holiday rink owners will need to show safety protocols at the rink. Consider marketing to nearby firms, small businesses, and even celebrities to book as many personal, safe events as possible.
Host a Virtual Skating Event.
Why not put on a show? Collaborate with amateur and professional figure skaters or dance troupes to put on a virtual event. You can have skating enthusiasts pay for exclusive access to the event. With the impact of covid-19, virtual events have risen significantly. Persons are more likely to pay for special occasions they can view in the comfort of their own homes. The added income from virtual events can supplement the lost revenue from reduced capacity.
Care for a Collab?
In these difficult times, businesses are stronger together. A collaborative event or effort can be profitable for both parties. How can your company team up with another to create a successful event or promotion? This may even mean collaborating with your competition. For instance, companies like ours sell synthetic ice tiles that can be used at home. Can your team provide virtual training lessons or sell skates to these users? For many holiday ice rink providers, staying afloat means being creative and stepping out of their comfort zones.
Home Skaters Need to Pivot Too.
With over 6 million active skaters in the country, there will be a lot of disappointed persons this year. For many, skating is more than a seasonal activity; it’s a way of life. Others are just excited to hone their skills, learn skating, or connect with their friends and family in a fun way. Best of all, it’s a tradition that connects thousands of families. With major ice rinks closing for the holidays, it seems to be all but over. Some persons are even concerned about 2021. We know the joy that skating brings and that joy is what motivated us to create our company. Luckily, there are a few ways to still enjoy skating while navigating the pandemic.
Build Your own Backyard Rink
Have some space in your backyard? Why not take on a cool holiday project? Get your friends or family together and build a backyard rink. Even during these difficult times, you can build a relatively inexpensive rink. Look for a level surface in your back yard. If the space appears sloped, you’ll need to fill it in. You’ll also need to time it well, starting the days leading up to the first freeze. Then you’ll need materials for rink walls (wood, PVC, or special sideboards) and brackets to hold them in place. You can even get professionally made Dasher Boards for that authentic rink feel. Next, fill up your rink with water and let nature get to work. In short order, you’ll have a rink that you, your friends, and your family can enjoy.
Take it Inside with Synthetic Ice Tiles.
Does setting up a DIY backyard rink sound tedious? Or maybe you don’t have the weather in your favor. Then consider investing in synthetic ice tiles. Synthetic ice tiles are made of a strong but smooth polymer that’s perfect for skating. These tiles connect like puzzle pieces and can fit on almost any hard surface. On these smooth polymer sheets, you can use regular ice skates and have an amazng skating experience. You can choose infused ice, which are self-lubircating tiles. These maintain their smoothness and has less friction. Non-infused need a additional liquid enhancer but has been known to stay cleaner for longer. To set up your synthetic ice tiles:
- Measure your room, driveway, deck or backyard. Leave a small space at the edges to compensate for swelling due to heat.
- Order your panels. At Polyglide Ice, we have panels available for any skating activity. However, we can customize your panels to fit your space.
- Once you receive them, install your panels using a soft mallet. Make sure the surface is flat and even. If it isn’t, plywood boards can help.
So if you have a spare room, basement, it’s a great way to start or continue skating in the safety of your home. Synthetic ice panels like ours can last more than a decade, so you can pick them up and reuse them for the holidays. Or you can use them around throughout the year to become an exceptional skater or stay in shape.
Pick Up Another Ice Activity Instead.
With these changes in effect, it’s a great time to try something new. Besides ice skating, there are other fun, safe ice activities you can try at home. We’re a big fan of curling. The sport has been around for more than 400 years and involves sliding large stones along ice towards a target area. Curling rinks have gone indoors for some time now, with synthetic ice kits easily accessible. You can set up a curling rink in a spare room or family room for hours of fun. A small, trusted group of friends could come over and enjoy the holiday your way.
Still Venture Out (Safely)
While some popular rinks will be closed, there may be smaller rinks in your area open for business. If you’re comfortable heading out and confident in your safety protocols, then try a smaller rink. Research the rules and safety measures in place by the rink, to help you make a better decision. If possible, schedule the time you’ll be visiting to minimize your interactions. Take your own skates if possible. If you can safely navigate the rink, you’ll be doing your part to help rink owners stay afloat in what has been a challenging year.
The pandemic is an unfortunate blow to the holiday ice rinks that we’ve enjoyed for years. With the large crowds some rinks draw, it’s understandable why most rinks have no choice but to close up shop; some of their biggest clients won’t be investing in rinks this year. However, for those that are up and running, these challenging times can bring out creativity and resilience that can help for years to come.
Skaters will also feel disappointed this year. However, there are alternatives, like at-home skating, that they can enjoy with close friends and family. Will we see a change in 2021? Time will tell. Until then, we’ll have to make the best with what we’ve got.