Thursday, 30 June 2011

New award for Attract client

Canterbury for Culture Award
Attract client, the Canterbury Westgate Towers has won the inaugural Canterbury for Cultural Landscape Award, an award given to a cultural organisation, group or individual making a significant positive impact to Canterbury's environment, architecture or public space.

Interpretation initiatives include turning the Westgate Gaoler's diary into wallpaper which has been put in the gents - Charles Lambie, Westgate Towers' custodian and operator is now worried that visitors will stay seated on the Thomas Crapper toilets for too long reading the news from 1798!
The official opening is the end of July with the next few weeks spent finalizing the opening offer. However from July 1st accompanied tours and familiarization visits through the newly connected 1830 Gaol and café space are on offer.

It's believed that Westgate Towers is the first scheduled ancient monument to reopen under a public /private initiative under the current climate of public spending cuts.

Dunstan, the Westgate Towers' mascot

Thursday, 23 June 2011

Museum & Heritage Show May 2011 - Design & Interpretation – That Won’t Cost the Earth

The Enchanted Palace

Presented by Dr Joanna Marschner, Senior Curator, Historic Royal Palaces

Following the death of Princess Margaret, the Queen bequeathed 30 rooms and 3 gardens to Historic Royal Palaces. This meant lots of the valuable paintings and other objects had to be stored away for safe-keeping during the restoration and building works, and only State Apartments remained open, but largely empty. But restoration meant there was an opportunity to install things like a lift and other modern facilities in the palace which had not been possible before (budget £12m).

Main assets were felt to be the local community, the workforce and the collections. Because of the nature of the ongoing work, a route around the museum would change over the period of the restoration, so they decided to work with that, and look for something that would make this unimportant.

Dr Marschner discovered a company based in Cornwall, Wildworks, who she worked with to create a magical transformation. From their website, here:

“Independent charity Historic Royal Palaces is undertaking a £12 million major project called 'Welcome to Kensington – a palace for everyone' to transform and re-present Kensington Palace by 2012.

While this work is being carried out, the charity has invited us to cast a WILDWORKS spell over the palace, creating a mysterious and atmospheric world for visitors to explore, and bringing the hidden stories of the historic royal residence dramatically to life.

In the sumptuous State Apartments, leading fashion designers Vivienne Westwood, William Tempest, Stephen Jones, Boudicca, Aminaka Wilmont and illustrator / set designer Echo Morgan, will each create spectacular installations in collaboration with WILDWORKS artists, taking inspiration from Kensington Palace and the princesses who once lived there - Mary, Anne, Caroline, Charlotte, Victoria, Margaret and Diana.”

They discovered that the room warders were a wonderful resource, mostly desperate (46 out of 50 staff) to talk to visitors. Two or three professional actors worked with the front of house team, along with range of artists and designers on the project. FOH team (no w called Expert Explainers) were involved from the beginning, given voice coaching, acting training and all the palace community were involved in making things, and telling stories. Audio guides are now not used, as staff are highly motivated and involved, and have blossomed as lots of hidden talents emerged.

This approach has broken all targets, with significant audiences of 24-34 yrs, those families with young children, and other groups who never normally visit – ie has reached out to more audiences than before. Have been open in the evening for first time, getting 700 people (this year on 3 Fridays in May, June, July and Peter the Wild Boy’s Ball in August).

Response from visitors has been polarized with 83% saying they really like it, 7% really didn’t like it, and 10% thinking it was ok. From 2012 she said it won’t be exactly the same, but they won’t revert to how it was before – will try to find out more.

The ‘Greeters’ have a policy of telling visitors that it will be different from anything they’ve seen before and give them the opportunity to not pay and come in to be disappointed. If a visitor has come to see a particular work of art eg a painting, they can be informed when it is due to be restored in the palace.

Monday, 6 June 2011

Refreshing the offer - Coming Of Age at the Ace Café

The Ace Cafe Exhibition - Coventry 

A good time was had by Attract at the launch of Coventry Transport Museum's new visiting exhibition - 'the story of the fashion, the bikes and the music that defined a generation' and (that) 'takes you on a journey through the history of the iconic Ace Café, its customers and what it meant to be a British teenager in the 1950s and 60s'.
It was opened by Dudley Sutton one of the stars of the film The Leather Boys and the evening featured live music from The Zodiacs Rock n Roll band, Rock n Roll dancing , the Antelope Motorcycle Club and the owner of the Ace Café Mark Wilsmore. We enjoyed Cafe-style dinner and drinks.
The exhibition is another simple example of how a museum can develop, target and appeal both to the older generation who may remember the Ace Café and tell a story that will appeal to a younger audience and bring in people who might otherwise not have visited the museum . There were certainly all sorts there on a June Thursday evening!
Coming of Age in Coventry

Saturday, 4 June 2011

Researching, Developing and Marketing Tourism Products

Speakers from Attract can offer the following content for conferences workshops, seminars and academic courses - all tailored to fit the audience

1. Tourism - Destination Marketing

 Marketing is one of the core functions of a destination manager. The module provides advice on adopting a strategic approach from the outset i.e. defining the product, market planning and targeting, identifying the right media and implementing campaigns.

  • A strategic approach to Destination Marketing
  • The product or what to take to market, including branding
  • Who to target
  • Routes to market – or how to reach the visitor
  • Marketing to business tourism organisations
  • Selecting the media mix
  • Case study

 2. Visitor attractions

This module looks at what constitutes an attraction, examines the general principles of developing an attraction, the focus of different kinds of attraction and in particular looks at attractions in the cultural and heritage tourism sector

  • Defining Cultural and Heritage tourism
  • Basic concepts - setting the scene
  • Feasibility studies and business planning
  • Audience Development Planning
  • Interpretation - developing themes and storylines
  • Access for all - physical and intellectual
  • Operational issues in visitor attractions
  • Case study - based on a visit to a local attraction and a workshop

3. Using market research techniques to help make the right decisions

This module looks at gathering and using data on which to make the right strategic decisions and how to use market research to monitor and evaluate performance.

  • Key elements of a successful research project
  • Developing the objectives of the research project
  • Primary and secondary research - differences and when to use
  • Quantitative and qualitative research – differences and when to use
  • Other techniques’ e.g. online, desk research, diaries, workshops, csultation
  • Ad hoc and on-going/continuous research
  • Evaluation of marketing activity
  • Planning and developing a brief
  • Case study


Somewhere worth leaving home for

Tourism is a key sector of the economy and for private and public sector operators, developers and investors it offers both opportunities and challenges.

New developments require careful market research and considered strategic planning. The viability of new leisure and tourism projects must be rigorously tested and there has to be a detailed appreciation of market conditions and of the planning and development contexts for all development. The constant theme that characterises the sector is the need to attract customers, maximise repeat visits and purchases and maintain or improve competitive positions.

Unfortunately, strategic planning for visitor attractions often has rather disjointed beginnings and issues of “secondary” importance, such as access, buildings, design and detailed planning frequently dominate discussion. However, the fundamental questions to be addressed are: “How will this visitor attraction work as a consumer proposition?” and “How can it be branded for success?”

Creating a visitor attraction that is sufficiently strong, differentiated and marketable is, in the long term, even more important than the key “front-end” questions of funding, investors and capital needs. It is not investors and public funding authorities who sustain a profitable operation but consumers. The return on investment depends ultimately not on buildings, but on individuals, seeking a visitor attraction experience.

A visitor attraction can be defined as “somewhere worth leaving home for”, and this is as relevant to a single museum or cathedral as it is to a tourist area or town. People make visitor attractions – the people who conceive them, the people who develop them, the people who manage them, but above all the people who visit.

In a successful attraction, the product on offer is the experience itself. Committing time to that experience must be rewarding for the individual; spending money on that experience must be worthwhile. In the experience economy, visitor attractions must constantly "reinvent" themselves to encourage repeat visits and survive. This economy of experience is about quality, service and choice – it is not about size. The successful product is about expectations, experiences and memories for individual consumers.

Ultimately, it is people that make visitor attractions successful, not buildings and infrastructure. Visitor attraction developers, owners and managers must always hold the consumer proposition and the visitor attraction brand firmly in mind when undertaking strategic planning.

Networking for Visitor Attractions - Group on LinkedIn

Visitor attractions have many common themes. problems and opportunities whether they are large or small, museums, theme parks, castles or heritage centres. The Visitor Attractions Group is a group for operators and suppliers of goods and services to share ideas, experiences and advice - joining as a LinkedIn member lets you share in discussions, networking and job opportunities.