Woman on bicycle talking on cell phone with one hand.

A More Efficient Visitor Experience Strategy

About ten years ago, park and historic site planners in Canada began expanding the classic Interpretive Master Planning process into a larger and more holistic planning methodology called the Visitor Experience (VE) Strategy. The planning approach has been revolutionary—we take a holistic, 360-degree look at the entire visitor experience from picnic tables to interpretive programs …

New Tools for Defining Essence of Place

One of the planning techniques I have been using a lot as an interpretive planner and visitor experience advisor is defining essence of place. Essence of place is the sum of the qualities, tangible and intangible, that come together to make that place unique on earth.  Closely related to ICOMOS work on genius loci, the …

a group of men in the street dressed mostly alike

Understanding Audiences: The Downside of “Falk Types”

About twenty years ago, Dr. John Falk and Dr. Lynn Dierking did a body of research on why people visit museums and other informal learning institutions. It’s fascinating and valuable stuff, and if you get a chance to read their work, you really should. They discovered that, broadly speaking, people have a handful of different …

It’s time to give the objects back.

Virtually all arguments against repatriating Indigenous objects are rooted in white supremacy. Hey reader, did you ever have your bike stolen? I have more than once, and while I have never been successful in getting my bike back (thousands of them are stolen weekly in most cities, apparently), I’d like to take you through a …

Let Your Data Tell A Story

Those of you who have followed my writing for a while know that as an interpretive planner, I’m a strong believer in evidence-based decision making. One of my challenges has always been in trying to communicate the importance of data—visitation patterns, visitor demographic information, analyses of program evaluations, and the like—in such a way that …

blue hydrangea flower

Stakeholder is not a dirty word.

(Editor’s note, April 2023. Since I wrote this article last year, the topic has heated up a bit. Please read through the comments as well as the article to get a better sense of my point of view on the subject. Thanks.) (TL:DR: we are now using “titleholders and stakeholders”. Boom.) As an interpretive planner, …