A poll of 110 visitor experience professionals from across the UK and Ireland found that the majority see an increase in technology as being crucial to successfully engage with this emerging demographic.
The survey was part of ATS Heritage’s recent webinar ‘Reimaging Visitor Experience: New Audiences, New Opportunities’. It also found that 6 in 10 of those surveyed believed that their organisations are prepared for the changes they need to make to the on-site visitor experience.
The webinar featured contributions from interpretation and visitor experience consultant Anne Fletcher and James Rodliff from English Heritage. The topics explored included the challenges of engaging with a younger and domestic audience, how to safely welcome back visitors without compromising their experience, the role that technology can play and the many new challenges that attractions face having reopened to visitors.
The 30-minute webinar is available in full online and can be viewed here.
In the meantime, here are some of the tips shared in the webinar, which could help you to reimagine your visitor experience:
A New Audience
In the absence of international visitors, many attractions are seeing an increase in younger, domestic audiences and this has created an opportunity to look again at their offering and how it is presented.
Quieter Doesn’t Mean Less Busy
Many sites are operating at a much lower capacity than usual at the moment. Stonehenge, where James Rodliff is Operations Manager, is operating at about a fifth of their usual visitor numbers. In many instances more resource than usual is required to maintain high standards of safety, cleanliness and customer service.
Longer Dwell Times
Stonehenge, like so many sites, has discovered that visitors are tending to spend much longer on-site. This is a trend that was also reported by Westminster Abbey in a recent webinar and may be due to the fact that there isn’t the pressure of a crowd coming behind them. The restrictions on numbers have created a new, more relaxed experience, which many visitors have welcomed.
AIM (Audience, Infrastructure, Money)
Anne noted that these three elements are key to an organisation’s success. The audience is changing and we need to know who they are and respond accordingly, the physical and digital infrastructure needs to be in place to meet the moment and the money is required to remain sustainable. It is key to address each of these challenges if an organisation is to be successful.
Sanitise Your Attraction – Not Your Experience
Wise words from James. We must be careful that in making an attraction Covid safe that we don’t compromise what it is that makes it a special place to visit. The balance in getting this right is one that many organisations have wrestled with in recent months. The key is to put yourself in the shoes of a visitor and examine carefully whether the correct balance has been achieved. Seeking regular feedback and conducting surveys with visitors will assist greatly with this.
Emerging with Confidence
After some understandable apprehension, James noted that the Stonehenge team are feeling really positive. Knowing that the site is Covid safe for visitors and staff and also that the visitor experience hasn’t been overly compromised has contributed to this success. Engagement between visitors and staff has also increased, which makes for a more satisfactory experience all round.
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