Mayne Island

Requiem for the QR Code

The QR code is dead. It didn’t have to end this way. The year is 2011… …and I’m wandering through the galleries of my favourite local aquarium. Suddenly a gaggle of tweens rushes past me: “Over here! I found it!” They converge at an obscure spot under a counter, aim a smartphone, pause, shriek with laughter, and take off again. “This way! I think the […]

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Sunset, Strait of Georgia

How to Craft a Vision Statement

There’s no sense telling your staff and public that you will be the top heritage attraction in the nation if you can’t craft a strategic plan (and budget) that will get you there. In my previous article, I outlined what I hope will be a fairly simple way to craft a relevant, realistic mission statement. The problem with relevant and realistic mission statements, though, is that boards […]

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Information officers, Carnival Quebec

Evaluating Your Information Centre

Does yours rock? We’ve all been there: the very sad information centre. The staff are surly, the brochures are gone, the washrooms are horrifying, and everything digital is out of order. And I hope I can say we’ve all visited the opposite end of the spectrum. I did, recently. I walked into a clean, uncluttered, attractive information centre stocked with high-quality maps and brochures, and was […]

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Mission Statement Checkup: How’s Yours?

Mission statements should avoid vague and lofty turns of phrase like “transforms lives” or “provides hope” or “empowers wise choices”. All planning starts with a mission. From your mission flow your vision, your strategic goals, your management plan, interpretive plan, marketing plan… and all of the magical visitor experiences you live to facilitate. Without a solid mission or mandate, your organization is rudderless. Mission vs […]

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Goals: The Definition of Success

A primer on the setting of goals A few years ago, I was involved with the organization of a giant event. It was a one-day outdoor festival and concert in a big city. It was a lot of work and a lot of money on the part of the organizers and, well, to make a long story short, it rained all day. Not just drizzle; […]

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two rowers

It’s Finally Time to STFU.

Start to think of yourself as narrator, stage manager, and prop assistant. Recently, I’ve been thinking a lot about the future of interpretation in the rapidly-expanding world of experiential tourism. What is experiential tourism? It’s the future. Actually, it’s the present—the world of tourism began moving to an experiential model at least fifteen years ago. Where once it was enough to see Florence, to see Old […]

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What makes an experience memorable?

It’s a fairly simple formula, actually. Take a moment to think back to one of your most cherished travel experiences—something that goes back, say, more than five years. Close your eyes and let the images and feelings of that trip surround you. It’s a nice feeling, isn’t it? What were the images and feelings that came back to you first? What were the strongest among […]

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girl in crowd

Interpretive Capital and the VE Cycle

How are you spending yours? I just spent a week working with interpreters at three different national historic sites in Alberta, and what a blast it was. Is there anything more energizing than workshopping programs with passionate, engaged people? I would like to share an insight I had while working through a script about the history of a particular discovery. We were at a point in […]

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interp panel with grammar error

Proofread Twice, Print Once

As an interpretive writer, I really enjoy reading panels and exhibits as I travel across the country for my work. Occasionally, of course, I spot something that makes the writer-editor in me really cringe. I really sympathize with writers whose errors end up in interpretive panels. It’s one thing to see your mistake online, and rush to correct it. It’s quite another to see your […]

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gull in flight

Do you need a new interpretive plan?

If you’re a manager at a park, historic site or other heritage attraction, I’m guessing you know where your old interpretive plans are. Almost every site has them, gathering dust in a cabinet or stacked up on a shelf like geological strata going back decades. Is it time to get a new one done? Here are a few things to consider. Two terrible reasons to commission a new interpretive […]

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