Tuesday, 5 January 2016

Future trends?

The Crystal Ball
- J W Waterhouse
The latest copy of the Attractions Management Year Book (AM)  thumped onto my door mat over the Christmas period and the lead article is ‘Attractions Foresight’ where they look at the top 20 trends that they think will shape the future for attractions and tourism. I’ve picked out those that ‘tickle my fancy’ or I like or I can say this is something of which I have personal experience. 

Their number 1 is  Underground Attractions’ and they use as examples, Iceland’s ‘Into the Glacier’, ‘Bounce Below’ in Wales, where you can trampoline in a slate quarry and ‘Zip World Caverns’ where ‘daredevil tourists’ can go on zip wires and an assault course underground. My own slightly more sedate example but still exciting will be the 20 minute ride on Mail Rail opening in London in 2017 as part of the £25 million Postal Museum project, that plays on the idea of underground secret tunnels, heritage and an immersive ride. 

Number 3 is ‘Vintage’ with visitors dressing up for themed rides – they quote the 
1940s re-enactors see miliblog.co.uk
revamp of the New York State Fair and the reopening of Dreamland at Margate. I’m not sure this is quite so new as they think – the outdoor museums at Beamish and Ironbridge have trod this particular path for years quite apart from  the themed events on the UK’s heritage railways covering WW2, 1930s, 1940s,1950s et al.

Two perhaps potentially sensitive ones are number 5 - 'Dementia Friendly Design' and number 6 – ‘Design for
See carehome.co.uk
or as their headline says ‘Fat Planet’. The dementia friendly design approach is of course just a further step on the access issue eg having typography that is readable even for those with limited sight or even blind ie having Braille and having well thought out and intelligent use of colours and patterns so as not to confuse visitors. They quote the example of the ‘stick man’ and ‘stick woman’,  frequently used for lavatories. If you cannot remember what they mean, then they are not a lot of help! Mind you even I have had a problem with some of the more arcane examples of stick people.

Obesity is a major issue in the developed world and Attractions Management expect to find that attractions are increasingly catering for two distinct groups – obese domestic and non obese tourist groups. The issue of over weight and large visitors is an issue for all kinds of attractions impacting on such things as seating, toilet cubicles, wider corridors and access in older heritage buildings and places where the original occupants and users were smaller and shorter anyway than the normal healthy 21st century adult.

Number 8 is ‘Invisibles’   - sensors are integrated into the body to give a continuous data stream and establish a complete picture of what is going with our responses..…this will remove ‘the need to carry clunky devices’. This seems to be a variation on their number 2 of ‘Customisation’ or ‘Feedback’ for rides where riders can influence their experience through their breathing and heart rates.

Number 11 is Africa a continent which ‘will show exciting growth over the next two decades, with the attractions industry ….as a driver for both domestic and inbound tourism.’  Indeed many countries in Africa have the assets to be potentially very wealthy with a vibrant domestic and inbound tourism industry, Nigeria, South Africa and the Congo being just three. But there are many issues to be tackled in for example geopolitics and economic development before I would put my money on this forecast.

No 12 is ‘Halal’ - Muslims spent US$149bn on international travel in 2013.  AM forecast ‘further segregation in design and in facilities…as the growth of halal tourism picks up pace.’ Quite how Western audiences brought up in the Judeo-Christian tradition may react to this in an attraction will be difficult to determine.

See arcapplause.com
No 13 is ‘Beacons’  - the technology is about to change the way we look at attractions and open up opportunities for enhanced experience design and (of course!) increased monetisation. Mind you I recall reading some 10 years ago, about the ability to send information to customers as they walk past certain hotspots – maybe modern technology and the ubiquity of mobile device will allow it to finally happen…

No 17 is ‘Tech backlash’ – essentially we will be come fed up with digital technology and visitors ‘will increasingly want to express themselves  as sentient, physical, social beings’. Yes me to – I’ve always be averse to walking around a museum or attraction with an electronic gadget held to my ear and some disembodied voice telling me what I should be looking at.

No 19 is ‘Retail Customisation’ and we are here already of course with ‘photo books,
Royal Mail Group
3D printing etc and with products tailored to individual customers. This is a development of the concept developed by Chris Anderson in ‘The Long Tail’ published in 2006 – ‘How endless choice is creating unlimited demand’ and brilliantly executed by the likes of Amazon and Ebay where technology has created the ‘market of one individual’. Royal Mail has been doing this for a while now with Smilers®  - customised stamps which include your own photo that you can buy on line and with a mobile app and special machines .

So those are just some of the Top 20 potential trends for all those who work in the attractions industry to be aware of and perhaps react to…



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