What is Experiential Interpretation?

In the spring of 2020, I will be offering a two-day workshop in Experiential Interpretation. Thinking ahead to the course, I’ve been spending a fair bit of time researching and pondering what that actually means. Interpretation is experiential when the interpreter uses a recognizable activity as the structure of the program, and imposes passive listening on the audience less than 10% of the time. It […]

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Interpretive Planning: Spice Girls Edition

I’m an interpretive planner and visitor experience consultant, and when I start a new project with a client, we spend a fair bit of time identifying goals. We often start with a blank-slate, blue-sky approach: “So! What are we trying to achieve here?” But the more I do this goal-setting business, it occurs to me that in our line of work, there’s only so many […]

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Four Hard Questions

Before you start developing your visitor experience product Why here? The first question asks you to evaluate your product concept against your heritage destination’s essence of place. Why on earth should that program, exhibit, facility, viewpoint, whatever be here? How does it honour this place and bring it to life? We are in the business of connecting people to place. We are not in the […]

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Where is your strategic iconic photography?

Part of the work I do in visitor experience planning involves defining essence of place—those heritage values, tangible and intangible, that define your site. It’s a fun exercise but it can be a little bit abstract at first: what exactly is a tangible heritage value, anyway? A great place to start is simply by asking workshop participants to find six iconic images of their heritage […]

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Crafting a Visitor Journey

What is a visitor journey? A visitor journey is an interpretive planning tool that outlines what the visitor sees and does in your proposed visitor experience. It’s closely related to the ‘user story’ that software and app developers use: before you get into the nuts and bolts of coding (or in our case, writing and designing) you first make sure the product makes sense from […]

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What is a Visitor Experience Product?

In the tourism or visitor experience sector, the term “product” is used broadly. It refers to anything you offer to your public, in which they might invest money or time.  Note that in this sense, we don’t differentiate between products and services, the way one might elsewhere in the business sector. Our products often are services, or a combination of a physical product and a […]

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western painted turtle

Mission Creep, Turtles, and You

If your organization has been around for a while, you may discover that you have a few lines of business that don’t fit into your mission, or perhaps fit only in the broadest possible way. How does that happen? Mission creep is the slow and insidious process of taking on activities that don’t belong within your organization. In the non-profit world, these tend to sneak […]

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klondike

There are no meanings inherent in your resource.

Which is not to suggest that your resource is without meaning. I’ve been spending a lot of time lately putting together basic training for interpreters, and one of the first things we always try to do is define exactly what our profession is. You’d think that’d be easy; it ain’t. Every time I try to define interpretation, I come away less convinced than ever that […]

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southern sky

Who is the audience for your interpretive plan?

A lifetime ago when I studied playwriting, there was a concept that has stuck with me ever since: “point of departure.” In a story, there is a journey along a dramatic arc that is launched when the protagonist is faced with some kind of challenge, after which their life will never be the same. The point of departure is the moment in the character’s life […]

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A Field Guide to Content Developers

If you’re trying to put together a design project, it pays to know who to hire. I often see “interpretive writer” in an RFP when it’s clear that you’re really looking for a content developer or an interpretive planner. And while it’s not unusual to find someone (like me) who can do all three, the scope of work (and the price tag) for each is radically different.

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