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Statistics released by the EU* make interesting, if not essential, reading for all those who aspire to attract visitors to their zoos and visitor attractions. Taking time out to understand the potential visitor mix and the drivers behind visiting attractions can make a huge difference when organisations are planning how to maximise the visitor potential.
For example, the EU figures show that although residents from EU-27 made 1,055 million holiday trips in 2011, 76% of these were to domestic destinations with the remainder being abroad. Tuning in to the needs, wants and expectations of these ‘staycation’ holiday makers will help you attract them as visitors and deliver the right visitor experience. When you consider that Tourism is considered to be a vital part of the EU economy, accounting for more than 5% of the EU-27’s gross domestic product and directly employing between 12 and 14 million people, there is a big opportunity here.
Developing a clear understanding of the range of visitor archetypes for your attraction will enable you to better target advertising and deliver an experience which is aligned to their differing expectations, including adapting to differing national cultures. Whether your visitors come from abroad, from your local area or from further afield within the country, it is only through a deeper understanding of their needs that we can enhance and enrich the visitor experience. Are visitors looking to be informed or entertained? What weight should be given to the experiences of children or adults? Are visitors more likely to be singles or couples or will families of children, parents and grandparents travel together? All these questions and more will help visitor attractions to maximise opportunities.
For example, if the elderly are likely to visit as part of a family group then should you provide wheelchairs as standard, should extra seating be installed next to children’s play areas or should interactive learning experiences be designed so that young and old can enjoy them together? When it comes to children does the visitor’s culture look to a high level transitory experience or should learning points be installed along the way. And when attracting visitors from both home and overseas, gaining a broad appreciation of the most likely cultural aspects of a nationality can help to provide pointers on the way to satisfied visitors who will post strong recommendations online.
The EU figures are interesting but they are only a signpost along the way towards a mutually satisfactory visitor experience. Taking steps to understand your customer, designing your offering to engage and attract visitors and then engaging your employees in providing an outstanding customer experience may take time but at the end of the exercise you will be in a position to provide a richly rewarding experience for all.