For many businesses across the city region, the coronavirus lockdown left them searching for ways to potentially make their offer virtual.
For one Liverpool company though, they were ahead of the game. Treasure Hunt Liverpool is a virtual treasure hunt that you participate in through your mobile phone, navigating the city centre at your own speed in groups of up to 6 people.
We spoke to founder Ian Drysdale to find out how they’ve been able to utilise their virtual treasure hunt in the ‘new normal’ and what adaptations they’ve had to make following lockdown.
Hi Ian, can you tell us a little more about Treasure Hunt Liverpool and how it works?
Treasure Hunt Liverpool is a fun and different way to see Liverpool! You’ll see some of the city’s best sights, discover hidden gems, and take a cup of grog or two along the way!
It works a bit like WhatsApp, so it’s easy to use and all on your phone. Captain Bess sends you and your crew a series of treasure maps, leading you around Liverpool. She’ll also send you a series of clues and you have to work together to find the answers in your surroundings. Along the way, Bess will tell you a few interesting facts and stories about the things you’re spotting!
What changes have you had to make to how you operate thanks to coronavirus?
We’ve been lucky! Because the treasure hunt is 100% outdoors and all on your phone, we haven’t had to alter all that much. We’ve limited the number of people who can play together at once in a group.
The biggest change we’ve seen is in who’s going on the hunts. Before coronavirus, there were lots of hen-parties and larger groups. In March, that dropped off a cliff.
This summer it’s almost all been local families and couples playing the treasure hunt. They tell us they love it as it’s a safe and fun way to start getting back into Liverpool again. Sharing these sorts of testimonials on the website quickly also helped reassure other people that it’s a safe activity to do while social distancing.
You’ve expanded to 9 other cities during lockdown, what’s the secret to that success during such a difficult time for the industry?
Luckily we’d spent the winter visiting 9 other wonderful cities designing games! This meant that we could put our time in lockdown to good use. We spent it getting the games finished and online ready to book as soon as restrictions lifted!
We monitored the government guidelines everyday and kept our homepage bang up-to-date. This reassured people visiting our site. We explained how they could go on the treasure hunt in safety and that we understood the risks.
Another thing that’s helped is the game is completely flexible. If a group changes their mind, or if the government guidelines change, it’s no problem. We’ve always made it super clear they can either choose a new date or get a full refund. Recognising things are changing fast is important.
What advice would you give to other businesses across the city who have also reopened and are starting to look to the future?
It’s obvious that for the foreseeable future, tourism isn’t going to look as it once did. We now need to operate like we are new businesses again! As the market shifts, we need to learn how our different products and services fit. I’d encourage other businesses to make small experiments in how they do things now and measure how successful they are. Then, as they learn what works (and what doesn’t), they can begin to make those changes more permanent. Hopefully this means we don’t have to bet the whole business on things going one way or another, but that we’re able to remain flexible and adapt in changing time.
Treasure Hunt Liverpool operate year-round and if you fancy uncovering hidden treasure in the city and learning some Liverpool facts along the way check out their website.