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 …

Shuttered church, Battleford SK

Interpretive Storytelling and the Problem of Appropriation

“Can I tell this story?” As an interpretive planner and writer, I find I’m hearing this question more and more often: how do we Settlers know when a story is appropriate for us to tell? How do we know if we have the right to tell it? When is interpretive storytelling a form of cultural …

Staring down the rabbit hole of change

I am an interpretive planner and visitor experience advisor. I work with museums, historic sites, zoos, aquariums, and parks helping them evaluate and improve their relevance, revenue, and attendance. In other words, you call someone like me when things aren’t going as well as they used to—or when you have a vision of how much …

What is Experiential Interpretation?

In the fall of 2020, I will be offering a 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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …