– By Karen Baker, senior director of branding and marketing
Attraction Leader, I see you… losing sleep over seasonal staffing, weather-dependent special events, wayfinding, cooperative marketing, per caps, queue lines, dynamic ticketing, aging infrastructure, social media, and the next BIG attendance driver.
Working in tourism began early with my first job out of college, helping manage and market the very first exhibit/attraction near the Chattanooga, Tennessee riverfront. It was an eye-opener: downtown bus logistics, volunteer tour guides, large rodent control, managing through strep throat and the flu, etc. However, my personal attraction for attractions continued for over 20 years marketing and managing multiple attractions in the Chattanooga market.
As leaders, we challenged ourselves to understand what guests most desired and to imagine what future investments we should make to remain relevant. Since 2004, two of the attractions I worked for engaged PGAV Destinations for master planning and expansion projects. Now as a newer member of the PGAV team, it’s been interesting to learn how my attraction management experience fits into the magical PGAV mojo.
From Dreams to Reality, Six Insights From the Destination Design Process
- As hands-on attraction leaders, our idea-generation was far more impressive than our time capacity for cost analysis, time investment, construction projections, and general ROI. It was a relief to have a team who could focus on what ideas had the greatest potential and bring these ideas to life.
- No cookie-cutter solutions allowed. PGAV will listen to understand the current challenges and opportunities, and they welcome your ideas and dreams. The design process is collaborative, yet structured. Guest research and concept testing are elements of success in a PGAV design.
- You’ll benefit from a wealth of industry counsel. Turns out hiring a team with experience designing theme parks, museums, aquariums, zoos, cultural and natural attractions – plus consumer brand destinations all over the world brings a whole new level of sophistication to topics like the arrival experience, guest flow, F&B locations, retail opportunities, and guest engagement.
- Having a well thought out plan formed the framework for budgeting of operational, marketing and capital investments for many years, which freed so much of our leadership time spent in speculation. This proved liberating as we were able to focus on daily operations and management of the attraction.
- Any master planning, redesign or expansion project will have times of challenge. (As with any construction project.) Pick design and construction teams that you value, who you enjoy spending time with, and who will provide mission-critical reminders through snags. You’ll be so glad you did.
- Never forget about the guest experience. At the end of the day, it’s about your ability to delight and inspire them.
Having roots in the client side, I was thrilled last week to be present at an expansion grand opening of one of “my” attractions. I was remembering the years we dreamed what all this attraction could become. Walking across the new ticketing plaza and through the new entry doors, I was immersed in the love that PGAV put into the design – so affirming and welcoming. There are days I’ll be both a PGAV client and a PGAV teammate; and I suppose in my heart, I’ll always be a little bit of both.
Watch below for a look into the design and construction process with the recent grand opening for Ruby Falls!
For more on my journey to PGAV, read Leap Year!