How can visitor attractions deliver EPIC experiences this spring?By Diana Meterna
With the roadmap out of lockdown clear, our much loved visitor attractions look set to reopen their doors in May – hopefully this time for good. The chance to get out and enjoy everything from historic UK landmarks to theme parks will be greeted by many with a sense of relief and excitement that life can at last return to ‘normal’.
The enforced isolation of the pandemic left people longing for immersive and memorable experiences. BVA BDRC has developed a valuable tool which can help visitor attractions design unforgettable customer experiences and strengthen customer relationships.
Behavioural economics brings a new vision of how humans make decisions in real life. We are not rational ‘bots’ making optimal decisions, but humans subject to external influences and prone to making mistakes (some of them systematic). The theory of EPIC framework is that people judge an experience based on how they felt at its peak moments (the most intense points) rather than the sum or average of every moment of the experience.
The framework covers four key pillars:
Benefits of using the EPIC framework for visitor attractions:
- Form a deeper emotional connection with visitors
- Increase word of mouth awareness / recommendations
- Drive repeat visits
- Strengthen customer relationships
Our ClearSight research examines how UK visitor attractions have leveraged EPIC experiences and, more specifically, which key moments are driving these experiences. In general they have exceeded expectations by delivering elevated experiences far beyond other sectors. What does that actually mean in practice, though?
Elevation is the act of going beyond the routine and the expected, something that pleasantly surprised you. Such experiences are likely to influence word of mouth awareness, where people share their elevated experience with friends and family, and in turn drive repeat visits.
- Passionate and informative staff and volunteers: Beefeaters at the Tower of London or tour guides at the Houses of Parliament
- Personal experiences, such as meeting experts or hearing first-hand accounts
- Interactive experiences and displays by staff, such as inspiring experiments at The Science Museum or immersive actors at the London Dungeons
- Breath-taking moments, e.g. the poppies at the Tower of London
- Iconic exhibits, like the Rosetta Stone and Magna Carta exhibitions at the British Museum
- Chester Zoo: “Staff are so invested in what they do, they go out of their way to make it amazing and to care so wonderfully for the animals”
Pride is generated when visitors feel recognised and valued. This can be through a particularly special experience, or simply by receiving the care and patience of staff. Value should be conveyed through the experience and at each ‘transition moment’ to help form a deeper connection to the brand. These transition moments happen when visitors are the most open to an emotional response and can occur during booking, arrival, entry and exit from exhibitions, using the café or shop and leaving the building.
- Being looked after throughout the attraction experience e.g. detailed tour guides at the Royal Air Force Museum
- Passionate and engaging guide books and handheld guides. The handheld guides at the Roman Baths in Bath, for example, or personalised tours at Westminster Abbey where experiences are tailored to the individual
- Windsor Castle: “From the moment we arrived till the moment we left I felt looked after, like I was important as a visitor and I felt very welcome. Sometimes at big attractions you can feel a little uncomfortable, but that wasn't the case at Windsor Castle”
Insight relates to enabling visitors to discover something new or find new inspiration which is an important value-add to the overall experience. The ability to gain a deeper understanding of a topic of interest adds to the excitement, and can even trigger a sense of adventure when inspired to get involved.
- Regular updates to ensure there is always something new to learn or see for repeat visitors. Different special exhibitions are often a crowd-pleaser; typical of Tate Modern or London’s National Portrait Gallery
- The Science Museum catering to different learning styles (audio, written, visual, physical or verbal)
- Facilitate deep understanding by immersing visitors into a universe; exploring a new perspective they haven’t even thought of before, such as travelling back in time to the Industrial Revolution during a visit to The Black Country Living Museum
- RHS Garden Wisley: “The flower display is different / new each year, you see new species. You get ideas for your own garden”
Creating an emotional connection with visitors can be difficult, but behavioural science can maximise the chances of success. Enabling visitors to be surrounded by people with shared interests, and feel a sense of belonging during the experience can help forge a deeper connection. This increases the likelihood of visitors sharing their experience with friends and family and thus generate additional visits through recommendations.
- Relatable experiences for various audience groups (relating to the local area, backgrounds, audience types), e.g. Alton Towers is a place which brings back childhood memories
- Friendly, welcoming staff members at all touch points of the visitor journey, such as Hampton Court Palace where staff members are on hand for guidance and knowledge
- Creating a sense of community for visitors by connecting with other like-minded people and sharing a mutual appreciation of the topic of interest they came to engage with, such as visits to world leading gardens like the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew
- Warner Bros. Studio Tour London: “I was on the Harry Potter tour so everyone there was very passionate about the franchise and just as excited to see the props and sets as I was.”
Delivering memorable customer experience goes beyond delivering the basics – it's about going the extra mile in key moments of the experience that really matter.
Make sure to look out for our next blog which will delve deeper into how an EPIC experience can be applied to the hotel and hospitality sector, and how a few small changes could create a much greater win.
If you’re interested in finding out more about creating memorable CX, click the following link to download our Whitepaper (and don’t miss out on the video presentation, it’s very engaging!).