boy in traditional dress, new caledonia

The Art and Science of Visitor Experience

Visitor experience is 70% art and 30% science. When I was a young park interpreter, we rarely had access to audience research. In fact, I don’t much recall anyone talking about it: if you were in the heritage tourism sector, you simply did your work (exhibits, activities, orientation, amenities) as best you could, based on what you thought it should look like. We didn’t spend much […]

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brown pelican, teetering

Hearts, Minds, and Positioning Statements

Positioning Statements: Simple, Not Easy Sometimes, life takes you in odd and unexpected directions. If you’d told me twenty years ago that I was going to be spending my days helping heritage sites do market research and audience segmentation, I probably would have cut myself. It really isn’t something that comes naturally to me. Target marketing is not the kind of thing I wake up excited about […]

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Barred owl

Dear Don: We’re Too Successful.

Welcome to the first in my Dear Don series, in which I do my best to answer questions from my readers about interpretation and visitor experience. (And if I don’t have the answers, I’ll be featuring wise experts who can help.) Dear Don: I attended your webinar on target audiences and have a question: We offer a variety of adult-only programs but there seem to be […]

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man gazing right

Twenty(ish) Good Questions About Your Markets

What benefits are they seeking when they travel to an attraction like yours? This article is part of a series, Understanding Our Audiences, on market segmentation for interpretive planners and other visitor experience professionals. You should probably start at the beginning, here.   Here are some things you probably need to know about your visitors in order to identify your market segments. Note that these are not […]

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woman in traditional dress, Kota Kinabalu

Spray and Pray: The Fear of Excluding A Market

The point of market segmentation is not to make visitors unwelcome; it is the opposite. This article is part of a series, Understanding Our Audiences, on market segmentation for interpretive planners and other visitor experience professionals. You should probably start at the beginning, here.  Managers and boards of directors are sometimes reluctant to focus their investments in a handful of target markets (some businesses focus […]

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Five Filters for Qualifying a Target Market

How do you know if a given audience segment has potential for you? This article is part of a series, Understanding Our Audiences, for interpretive planners and other visitor experience professionals. Here is the beginning of the series.  Every so often, someone in your organization will say, “Hey, we should really be serving Market  X!” How do you know if Market X has potential for […]

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surfers at long beach

Values: The Key to Market Segmentation

Values are the most important criterion of all. This is the fourth instalment in an ongoing discussion on social science for interpretive planners and visitor experience professionals. Part one is here.  The last few years have seen a real shift among market researchers away from simple demographics toward psychographics: identifying segments of society by their identity-based social values. This is based on the idea that different groups of […]

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older woman of Tahiti

Seniors: The Grey-haired Revolution

It’s all about the fun of discovery I just spent seven months living in a floating seniors’ facility. It was a blast. Well, to be technically correct, it was a cruise ship and I was a guest presenter. Each cruise lasted about 14 nights, and before we sailed, I would look at the demographic breakdown of the new guests. On most of our cruises, the average age […]

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cyclists

Understanding Our Markets: Ways of Segmenting

This is the third piece in a series of instalments about social science for interpreters, and interpretive planners, and visitor experience professionals. Find the first instalment here.  There are many ways of understanding our audiences and segmenting them into groups. Do these look familiar to you? Demography: What life stage are your visitors (age, family and marital status)? What is their education level? What is their […]

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Segmentation, Profiling and the Role of Free Will

Editor’s note: This is part two of a series, Understanding Our Audiences, intended for anyone who does planning in the interpretive or visitor experience sectors. You can find the first instalment here.  It all sounds like marketing-speak. In fact, it’s pure old-school interpretation. Market segmentation is based on the idea that your behaviour and your tastes are predicted, to some extent, by your life stage (age, […]

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