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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Learning And The New Visitor Experience Paradigm

Let us talk less about learning, and more about connecting with essence of place, about the forging of links, the fostering of emotions and the long-term making of meaning. This is the conclusion of my series on the Visitor Experience (VE) Revolution. You might want to start with the first chapter, here. I consider myself both a champion and a casualty of the new visitor experience […]

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boy

High Horses, Ivory Towers and the M-Word

This is the third instalment in a series, The Visitor Experience Revolution. You should probably start at part one, here.  I will be presenting this topic at  the National Association for Interpretation’s big workshop coming up next week in Virginia Beach. I hope to see you there. As interpreters, we identify ourselves as educators first and foremost. That is not a bad thing. But with that lofty self-image sometimes comes a sense of superiority […]

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Forest floor, lifted.

Visitor Experience: Out With The Old

This is part two of a series; I suggest you start with the first instalment, here. Understanding our visitors’ needs and desires and trying to facilitate their experiences—both internal and external—very quickly become more important than creating didactic panels and programs. Organizations have started creating departments of Visitor Experience and hiring directors of Visitor Experience, and we are suddenly left to figure out where our old interpretive […]

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Demonstration, Bordeaux

The Visitor Experience Revolution

Has it passed you by? I have been in the interpretation business for a long time. 33 years, in fact (I started when I was two, I swear.) During that time, trends and fashions have come and gone, but in all my years I don’t think I’ve seen anything as fundamental as what I call the visitor experience (VE) revolution. This has been a sea […]

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zumba

Zumba and the Price of Interpretive Programs

We need to be honest with ourselves about the impact of price on the demand for our programs. More and more in the world of interpretation, we charge fees for our programs. And if you’re like me, you’ve known the frustration of trying to convince your customers that there is monetary value in guided walks or evening programs or gate admissions. It’s a tough sell. […]

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town crier, london

Quantifying Sparkle, Part 2

Defining standards for personal interpretive programs This is part two . You should probably start with Part One, here.  A few years ago, I was approached by one of the premier interpretive facilities in western Canada. The director of visitor experience had just hired a new manager of interpretation who was young and brilliant. With the change in management, she wanted to set a baseline and document […]

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