Quarterly Publications

Unlocking the Power of Great Places


“…That we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain – that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom – and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”


Discovering the Deeper Destination

On November 19, 1863, Abraham Lincoln unlocked the power of the Battlefield of Gettysburg in a two-minute address that revealed to us the transcendent nature of this great place. Lincoln interpreted the events of the great battle to be a resounding call to action. His speech illustrates the ultimate power of landmark destinations – to move us, to inspire us, and to motivate us to accomplish greater things.

At PGAV, we believe that very few great destinations reach their full potential to engage us in their deeper meaning and relevance. Yet we know from recent studies that today’s travel consumer is seeking deeper meaning from places of cultural and natural significance. So how do we inspire visitors to discover the deeper destination?

Communicating Benefits: Our work often deals with landmark sites like the Hoover Dam and the Grand Canyon, where the obvious consumer benefit is simply to behold the “famous thing.” Often, these sites do not effectively communicate the benefits associated with a deeper appreciation of their cultural and natural richness.

In this issue we will describe the results of our successful branding initiative at Niagara Falls. Here, we translated our client’s mission of preservation,  interpretation, and financial sustainability into a new communication strategy that inspires deeper engagement and increased revenues.

Engaging Audiences: Just because something is important, it isn’t necessarily engaging to a broad audience. Yet, for a destination to succeed, it must have compelling points of access for all types of people.

In this issue we will describe our ongoing work for the Patton Museum. While this subject – military history – may not be immediately appealing to some audiences, we are creating a variety of engagement points that will maximize the appeal and relevance of General Patton and the Army traditions he exemplifies.

Creating Unique Visitor Amenities: Great destinations are usually distinguished by their uniqueness, but all too often their visitor amenities such as dining and shopping are far too generic. Landmark sites can only reach their full potential when every aspect of the experience contributes to the uniqueness and power of the place.

In this issue we will describe Levee Mercantile, a unique interpretive shopping experience at the Gateway Arch in St. Louis. While providing increased revenue for the support of programs and improvements at this National Park Service Memorial, this venue tells the story of historic commerce and culture on the St. Louis Riverfront.


Robert C. Wilburn

Gettysburg National Battlefield Museum Foundation

Tell us about the Foundation.

The Gettysburg National Battlefield Museum Foundation is a private, non-profit educational organization that is working with the National Park Service to give visitors a deeper, more lasting appreciation for what happened at this revered Civil War battlefield.

Explain the nature of this project partnership.

In his Gettysburg Address, Abraham Lincoln spoke of a “new birth of freedom” for America. I think of our partnership with the National Park Service as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for a “new birth” at Gettysburg. The Museum Foundation will operate the new Gettysburg National Military Park Visitor Center and Museum. After 20 years, the land, building and facilities will be donated to the National Park Service.

What is happening at the site?

The Visitor Center and Museum will be a 139,000-square-foot facility, designed to blend into the rural Pennsylvania countryside. It is positioned at a low point in the terrain so it will not be visible from major interpretive points. We are creating a sense of place that evokes the emotions of 1863, while meeting visitors’ expectations of a 21st-century museum experience.

Treat us to a preview of exhibits.

The main gallery will present the museum’s major themes, including the causes and consequences of the Civil War. Theater experiences will immerse the audience in the sights, sounds and emotions of the battle and its aftermath. Another gallery will display the Gettysburg Cyclorama painting, including the original skyline, canopy and three-dimensional diorama that have been missing for more than 40 years. For the first time in decades, visitors will view the enormous painting as the artist originally intended.

Interactive stations will give visitors access to information about the people, battle, collection and monuments.

Describe the grounds.

Gettysburg National Military Park comprises nearly 6,000 acres, 26 miles of roads and more than 1,400 monuments, markers and memorials. Ongoing battlefield rehabilitation efforts will allow the nearly two million visitors each year to view the battlefield as the 165,000 Union and Confederate soldiers did from July 1-3, 1863.

Why does Gettysburg capture the spirit of so many?

People made decisions here that determined the course for our country. Gettysburg was a turning point in the war, a time and place where democracy was saved. Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address is perhaps the best summation in our nation’s history of the meaning and price of freedom. Following the war, Gettysburg became a place of reconciliation, as Union and Confederate soldiers came to shake hands across stone walls.

What’s your background?

Before joining the Museum Foundation in 2000, I served as president of the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation in Virginia and the Carnegie Institute in Pittsburgh. I am an economist by training, and have served as president of Indiana University of Pennsylvania, and as Secretary of Budget and Administration and Secretary of Education for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.


Navigating Niagara

Everybody loves Niagara Falls! For the past 200 years, visitors and dignitaries from around the world have been awestruck by the experience of massive water flow, mysterious mist and daily rainbows. In 1885, the Niagara Parks Commission (NPC) of Ontario was created to maintain and protect Niagara as a natural resource for future generations with no cost to taxpayers. This kind of mandate requires that the Falls remain a “must-have” family experience.

Recently, NPC recognized they were facing increased competition from expanded commercial offerings in the area. “We needed to reaffirm our position as the pinnacle of cultural, historical and authentic destinations,” explains Joel Noden, Senior Director, NPC. “While we had no need to reinvent the wheel, we were definitely in search of a new strategy.” Enter PGAV.

Branding with a new focus became necessary. PGAV led a process of configuring a new brand based on core values of NPC: authenticity, stewardship, education and hospitality. The “Authentic Falls Experience” was created and promoted through the purchase of a “Niagara Falls and Great Gorge Adventure Pass,” offering all-day transportation and priority admission to four Falls-related attractions.

Concurrent initiatives reinforce the clear and consistent message: new Welcome Centers at key entry points to the Park for orientation and Pass sales; clever graphics and way-finding as additional communication throughout the Park; increased consignment sales through hotels and partnership organizations; and external advertising and promotions to tout the Pass as the best way to fully enjoy the “Authentic Falls Experience.”

Results of this branding work and comprehensive support efforts are impressive: a more than 400% gain in Adventure Pass sales, or an increase from $1.6 million in 2002 to $6.6 million in 2005. Additionally, Passholders were tracked as staying 40% longer in the Park and spending twice as much on food and merchandise as non- Passholders.

Visitors are also motivated by the true mission of the NPC; that is, protecting one of North America’s most important sustainable destinations. They are educated that their “Purchases Help Great Things Happen” because they are contributing to the preservation of nature and heritage of the Falls. “We know that today’s travelers have choices,” says Noden. “We are now uniquely positioned to appeal to everyone who chooses to enjoy and preserve our classic wonder.”


Under the Arch

When Eero Saarinen won a 1947 architectural competition for the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial at the Mississippi River’s edge, he designed a structure that would become known throughout the world as the “Gateway to the West.” Under the Arch’s 5,199 tons of sparkling steel sits the Museum of Westward Expansion, two theaters, and retail. While the Arch is the tallest monument in the National Park system, this underground complex provides the foundation for understanding America’s westward growth following the Louisiana Purchase.

This foundation is still growing. PGAV worked with a task force to consider a number of possibilities for retail and food service, and eventually developed the concept of Levee Mercantile. Working with only 1,100 square feet of space, an 1870s outfitter’s store was created to be a step back in time, reminiscent of the bustling St. Louis riverfront of the mid to late 19th century. The store is managed by the Jefferson National Parks Association (JNPA), a nonprofit group that operates museum stores on public land sites. Their purpose is to support educational, historical and interpretive activities at sites affiliated with the National Park Service. They partner with sites to provide grants, and to develop educational materials and programs for the public.

Visitors to the Levee Mercantile now feel history come alive, as they are harkened back to a different era. All of the store’s offerings are selected for historical accuracy and educational potential. From the welcoming staff in period dress to store aromas, charming details of the era are being presented.

Snacks, special meats, cheeses, fresh breads, handmade fudge, kettle corn, jams and jellies are some of the carefully chosen food offerings. Books, toys, writing sets, cooking accessories, blankets, soaps and perfumes make up the gift inventory. Levee Mercantile successfully makes history tangible through a retail experience, with
$800,000 annual sales in their small shop.

Aside from the fiscal success, Levee meets its mission of offering visitors to the Arch a memorable educational experience. In-store demonstrations are gaining popularity, and visitors frequently stop by for a game of checkers. Staff has also developed an outreach program whereby they take the show on the road to local school classrooms, in full dress and with crates of products.

According to Kimberlee Riley, Chief Operating Officer of JNPA: “Levee Mercantile is a dynamic environment that offers something to all Gateway Arch visitors; it’s something that touches one or more of their senses, their reflections, or their imagination. It creatively fulfills the needs of the visitor with food and drink, and can also fulfill their desire to extend their experience beyond their visit.”


The Patton Museum: Inspiring Audacious Leadership

General George S. Patton, Jr. was no ordinary man. From swordsman to soldier, poet to polo player and historian to hero, Patton excelled in all of his endeavors and exemplified our culture’s ideals. History honors him. George C. Scott’s 1969 Oscar-winning performance in the film Patton elevated him to an almost mythic status. Now, a new museum is being developed that will reveal the real Patton, and the timeless lessons of his life and his service.

The Patton Museum in Fort Knox, Kentucky is currently expanding its reach in consultation with The Patton Museum Foundation and the Patton family. “The story of audacious leadership personified by General Patton and reflected in America’s history of armored warfare will come alive under PGAV’s creative process. With this approach, we will finally begin to honor extraordinary warriors in a manner befitting their service,” notes Dick Chegar, Chairman of the Board, Patton Museum Foundation.

The story of Patton will be retold in a way that inevitably strikes a chord with a broad audience of all ages. Born in 1885 in California, it is said that as a child, Patton proclaimed he would grow up to be a hero. He attended Virginia Military Institute and graduated from West Point in 1909 with a commission as Second Lieutenant in the 15th Cavalry regiment. He also represented the United States in the first modern Pentathlon in the Stockholm Olympics. Patton’s battle experiences began in 1916 in Mexico against Pancho Villa, followed by World War I and the American Expeditionary Force in France.

As Commander of the United States Third Army in World War II, Patton successfully led his troops in battle with the Germans, liberating 81,522 miles of territory. Through this chronicle of one remarkable man, the public will gain insights into the essence of what it takes to be a leader. We will get a glimpse at the personal side of Patton, his marriage to Beatrice Ayer and his family life. Exhibits will also encourage visitors to recognize key values of loyalty, integrity and commitment. Certainly, these very principles are applicable to all of life’s arenas.

The reinterpretation of the Patton Museum will present the history of cavalry, with emphasis on the noble traditions of our country, and Kentucky’s culture of horses. Established in 1949 to preserve historical material related to the U.S. Army Cavalry and Armor, the Museum has operated with donations from thousands of individuals and organizations around the world.

Patton’s Message

Movie mogul Sam Goldwyn is reputed to have said: “If you can’t write your movie idea on the back of a business card, you ain’t got a movie.” Goldwyn captured one of the fundamental principles of good experience design – to begin with a clear message.

Beyond his military legend, George Patton gave us a wonderful legacy of thoughts on subjects like leadership, courage, commitment, and preparation. We immediately knew that his message could be relevant to people from every walk of life. To test the range and relevance of Patton’s message, PGAV created a large series of “billboard mock-ups,” each using a quote from Patton. As we design the museum, these will guide our team to remain focused on the message.



The Importance of Marketing to Women

Jerry Henry
H2R Market Research

Whether you are designing, operating or marketing an attraction, the key to greater success begins with a thorough understanding of your target market. It is important to know whether your guests are older or younger, live nearby or far away, are wealthy or middle-class, prefer thrills or family-type experiences, etc. But, perhaps the most important variable of all is one that is often overlooked – gender.

We all know men and women are different, but the extent of those differences might surprise you. Male and female brains are wired differently and, therefore, we have different skill sets which cause us to tend to think, act and even sense the world differently than one another.

Consider the art of basic problem solving. Men typically search for a “reasonable solution” to a problem while women are more likely to look for the “ideal answer.” As soon as a practical solution is found, men tend to stop the search, make the decision and move on. Women, on the other hand, are more likely to examine the problem more carefully, consider the good solutions and then continue their search until they are comfortable they’ve come up with the best possible answer.

Also, men tend to focus more on “things and stuff” while women are more people-powered. Women tend to find people to be the most interesting part of any situation. It is not that people aren’t important to men; it’s just that speed, thrills, and factual information are more important to them. Magazine covers provide a good example of this. Women’s magazines tend to feature a person or a person’s face while men’s magazines are more likely to show computers, cars, guns, etc. If you’re trying to reach women in your marketing and ignore the all-important people-aspect of the new ride or attraction, your ad will not likely reach its full potential.

Men and boys generally enjoy thrilling experiences such as roller coasters and motion-rides; whereas, women and girls often do not. Some believe this is because females have a wider peripheral vision than males –and the twisting, turning motion may actually make some women feel physically ill.

The differences between males and females go on and on. Men are more competitive, they want to be better than their male counterparts; whereas, women are more collaborative, they want to share experiences with other women. Another interesting fact is that men have four emotional outposts in their brains while women have 36 emotional outposts. These additional outposts are what help women to be able to empathize better and give them the ability to experience more intense emotions.

But, perhaps the most interesting thing is that men are responsible for making the decision to visit a leisure attraction only about 10% to 30% of the time – women are responsible for the other 70% to 90% of all leisure decisions. Indeed, it is important that we understand our female customers needs and wants as well as possible.

Yes, men and women are quite different.

Men make decisions using their experience, instinct and perspective based upon their preconception of what women want. Unfortunately, most men have no idea what women really want. Hence, most product and marketing generated in the attractions industry has comparatively little female input— despite the fact that women are the ones driving the economic engine of the industry.

This is why research has become so critically important in the attractions industry. You cannot create attractions, exhibits, atmosphere or even marketing messages that resonate with your female guests if you are not including them in the decision process from design to implementation.

New attraction or exhibit concepts should be tested with a female panel before any decisions are made. And, an ongoing survey program designed to measure guest satisfaction, preferences, likes and dislikes should also be considered. Bottom line, the best way to determine what women truly want is to simply ask them.

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