Get out of your office see visitor trends, interactions, dispel myths, and add “speed bumps” along the way.
I heard the above title through a Disney Leadership Training or Disney related book and decided to combine it with an exercise from Stephanie Weavers, Creating Great Visitor Experiences book and go for a walk, eight walks to be exact. Yesterday, I made it a point to get out of the office and walk the front lines of our aquarium galleries once an hour for eight hours. With a map of our site I noted where visitors were as I moved from gallery to gallery with a colored dot, each hour a different color.
Here’s what I found:
- A volunteer feeding the pelicans attracted one of the biggest audiences of the day (this was a nonscheduled interpretive moment and surprise for our visitors…hmmm maybe we need to do more of these?)
- Visitors DO tend to go to the right when entering an exhibit….what to do with the exhibits/flow to the left that are being skipped over.
- Our newest exhibit (Madagascar) is still a hit as it was continuously packed with visitors. Time and money well spent…whew!
- Certain exhibits had consistent visitor density all day, others not so much. What can we learn from that.
- There are a number of dead areas where visitors didn’t seem to go. Perhaps the addition of a volunteer or educator would attract more folks and increase their length of stay. We could add these “speed bumps” to lengthen stay and value for our visitors.
- There were places where visitors gathered without exhibits or interpreters….interpretive opportunity?
- A signage component that was thought to be “lame” and “unvisited” was consistently visited hour after hour. Hmmm… Don’t assume!
- Seating is packed around kid play areas (parents). Kids play areas popular all day. Where could we use more benches? Coffee?
- Blue shirts draw a crowd. Aquarium staff creates many engagements and interactions.
- Personally the walk turned out to be a great brainstorming session and allows me to reflect on programming and the visitors rather than the impending meeting, deadline, or awaiting email that can bog me down.
- I begin to see length of stay patterns with certain groups or families I see each hour.
- Its fun being with our visitors and serving them while doing the exercise.
What and where are things happening/not happening at your visitor center, museum, park, zoo, or interpretive trail? Take a walk or eight of them!