Doing business in Corona times: an Instagram museum at 1.5 meters

Koen and Joep opened an Instagram museum in Amsterdam in November 2019: Youseum. Like all museums in the Netherlands, Youseum closed mid-March because of the Coronavirus. How did entrepreneurs Koen and Joep deal with this? How did they prepare for the reopening on June 1st and what challenges do they foresee in the coming months? We asked them.
Youseum case study
Case study Youseum

Youseum was open for over 4 months when the Corona crisis made you to close the doors. Do you remember how that news came in?

Koen: “I remember very well. We both went straight into some kind of crisis mode. Taking care of urgent things and not thinking too much about the long-term perspective. We focused on questions like:

  • What and how do we communicate?
  • What do we do with people who have already bought a ticket?
  • We paid plenty attention to our staff.

We employed a number of people in the office, we work with freelancers and have a large group of tour guides. Joep: “I remember in the second week, we were in the empty museum together. On a normal day there are hundreds of visitors and now we were alone. That was really crazy.”

How did you get through the last two months? What have you been focussing on?

Joep: “During the first month, we used the extra time to make the museum more beautiful and better. Of coursehaving no visitors gave the opportunity to make improvements. Like a big spring cleaning actually. Then we started to make a Corona protocol. We mapped out all the bottlenecks in Youseum where keeping 1.5 meters distance isdifficult. Our tour guides have also been very involved . Getting them to think about this also gave more support for the Corona protocol. After all, they – and the visitors – have to act on the new protocol.”

Koen: “In addition, we have not stopped making future plans . At a time when the daily operation was standing still, there was a lot of time to think about the next step(s) for Youseum. So we also took the opportunity to reflect on the next 4 months.”

From June 1st, the museum is open again. How did you prepare for the opening?

Joep: “First, there is the Corona protocol. It describes a number of measures that ensure the safety of our visitors and employees. Some of the measures: the groups that go in are smaller than before, people have to reserve a time slot in advance, there is one-way traffic everywhere, people can’t use the toilets and there are several places where you can (or should) clean your hands.”

Koen: “You can find the protocol on our website. We communicate proactively on our online channels and of course offline in the museum itself. Through stickers, signage along the route and well-prepared tour guides to help visitors.”

Do you have any tips for entrepreneurs who are in the same boat?

Koen: “Involve your employees and visitors/customers in your Corona approach. This way you build up support, which helps in compliance with the established rules.”
How do you look at the next few months? What challenges do you face now?
Koen: “We are quite optimistic. We are now especially happy to have life in the museum again. We’re confident that people will keep on visiting us. The fact that many people can’t go on holidays is definitely going to help museums and other fun outings in their own country.”

Joep: “The key challenge we face is to make people understand that you can experience a Corona-proof experience at Youseum. That – even if it’s a little different now – it’s still exciting to come to Youseum!

Do you want to know more about the Youseum Journey

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