blue hydrangea flower

Stakeholder is not a dirty word.

As an interpretive planner, part of my job is helping parks, heritage sites, zoos, and aquariums identify the people around them whose lives or work will be affected by what they’re doing. So, early on in the interpretive planning process, I ask if we can sit down and identify their stakeholders. And more and more, …

The Membership Conundrum

Memberships aren’t what they used to be.  Is your organization struggling with its membership program? Are you having a tough time keeping your membership numbers up? You’re not alone.  Membership has always been a cornerstone of the nonprofit model: any society or association is by definition a group of like-minded people working together. And while …

Mining Online Reviews for Fun and Profit

As an interpretive planner and visitor experience advisor, I’m a big believer in evidence-based decision making. When I start a new project, the first thing I ask for is data: visitor surveys, gate revenue statistics, comment cards… anything I can get my hands on.  Recently I started an exhibit planning project where my client knows …

sunset over water

Consultation: Some Lessons Learned

In the last two years, virtually all of my projects have taken on a consultation component. At some point in an interpretive plan, an exhibit project, or a visitor experience strategy, the client needs to involve the community. These include Indigenous groups, naturalist organizations, historical societies, neighbourhood associations, and the like. Not all of these …

Hikers on a mountain top

Interpreters in the Experience Economy

Every great travel experience has three parts: the anticipation, the realization, and the recollection. Those of us who deliver interpretive programs—guided walks, talks, workshops, dialogues, and the like—have long placed ourselves squarely in the second of those three phases: the delivery/realization of the visit.  With the shift in recent years to new communications tools, it’s …

person walking away from tree in silhouette

A swing and a miss: NAI’s new definition of interpretation

If I didn’t already know what interpreters do, this definition wouldn’t tell me. The National Association for Interpretation has released their newly-updated definition of interpretation. It’s a project they’ve been working on for three years; I’m going to take a moment to try to describe to you why I think it’s a bit of a, …