Improving the Visitor Experience

Over the last year, my wife and I have been lucky enough to visit many places popular with tourists adopting the persona of a “visitor”. Most of these align to our interests in history, nature and natural beauty. I naturally include the (excellent)  Guinness factory in Dublin in all three categories.


Much to the annoyance of my wife, I find myself continually appraising these sites not because of what is to be seen but more on the “visitor experience” that we are provided with as a paying customer. There is a close collaboration to the principles of Customer Experience in that if I am provided with a wonderful experience, I am very likely to become a repeat, loyal visitor AND tell many others about this experience. Trip Advisor has become THE guide for Visitors, not just in finding accommodation and restaurants but equally in places to see and things to do.

What has surprised me and, in most cases, disappointed me, is the lack of innovation within these visitor experiences. Whilst there are exceptions, here are some examples of innovation that exists but is often not yet readily available:

  • Augmented Reality allowing visitors far greater detail and insight into what hey are observing. There is often a reliance on static notices (often in one language) or headsets that play a commentary on certain exhibits or topics
  • Online or Automated payment options reducing the need for excessive queues to get in. Cinema’s and many Sporting events have simplified this process allowing customers to spend more time enjoying the event rather than queueing
  • Better bundling of products and services to suit my circumstances. For example, rather than drag me through a gift shop,why not personalise offers (either your own or via affiliates) online related to what you know about me?
  • What do you mean, you don’t know anything about me? In that case, you do not have the right engagement strategy which would allow you to understand my digital footprint, interests and propensity to purchase
  • Have a strategy to engage all generations. My father refuses to own a smart phone yet when he visits a visitor attraction, he loves the use of actors or visitor centre staff who are empowered and free to engage directly with customers to try to bring something to life or explain something in his language. Too often, there is no-one to answer his questions!
  • Stimulate the senses. Let me see, hear, smell, touch and taste as far as it is possible. We recently visited the magnificent Roman Mithraeum in London. They did this very well which helped make it such a memorable Visitor experience.
  • Connect with me through Social Media. Interestingly, not one of the places we visited has attempted to connect to us either directly or indirectly on Social. Retailers have no issues in connecting and often the motivation for me is far less, as the interest level may not be there (I can only get so excited about my bulk purchase of cat litter). Guinness did encourage uploads of photo’s to Instagram and Facebook but there has been no follow up or ongoing engagement, which is a shame as I really enjoyed my visit.

There is more but I’m keen to see those engaged in improving Visitor Attractions to put themselves in the shoes of all their visitors and ask whether their “offering” could leverage modern technology to improve that specific experience.

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