“Don’t ask people, just watch people” is an increasingly common philosophical approach taken by practitioners across the insight industry, including those operating within the visitor experience
world.  The notion that more practical insights are uncovered by simply observing behaviour ‘in the moment’, rather than asking visitors to recall and post-rationalise their movements, is one
which is gaining real momentum. 

 

Technology is hastening this transformation within the visitor experience world.  A host of downloadable apps are now available through which visitors can provide feedback – through video, audio, text, ratings – in real time as they progress through a visit journey.  How are they feeling at each point?  What are the
‘wow’ moments?  Where are they disappointed or confused?  Where are they making key decisions?  All critical questions for visitor experience professionals within the world of visitor attractions.

For those involved in understanding and influencing wayfinding around their sites, some of these apps, including one that we licence at Decision House, incorporate GPS tracking (with visitors’ permission of course).  This helps visitor attractions and destinations to understand:

  • The common routes that visitors take around your site.  Where do they head to straight away?  Is that where you want them to go?
  • Operational pinch-points or areas of under-utilisation.  Are visitors missing areas of your site that could add to their experience?  Where do we need better signage to mitigate this?
  • Dwell times at individual visit points.  Which aspects of the experience are engaging visitors the most?
  • The ‘wow’ moments which reveal the drivers of the all-important emotional engagement

By understanding behaviour ‘in the moment’, we eliminate many of the biases associated with post-visit interviewing.  Poor recall of the exact visitor route and dwell times.  Over-emphasis on elements
of the visit journey undertaken towards the end of the experience.  Forgetting some of the visit details visitors perceive as unimportant, but in reality are common across many visitors.

There is certainly still a place for pre and post visit work to add colour to understanding of the visitor journey.  For instance, we regularly adopt a three-stage process when trying to understand how a visit experience might need to be developed for brand new audiences.

Firstly, talking to these new audiences about their pre-visit expectations is often enlightening, if simply to reveal major misconceptions or even a lack of any perception at all about the destination.  Secondly, allowing these audiences to experience the destination in their own time, feeding back ‘in the moment’
through an app.  And finally, reconvening these audiences and understanding in more detail about the feedback through the app – why they felt as they did, why they took a certain route, why this was a
‘wow’ moment.

These ‘in the moment’ apps now facilitate the generation of large volumes of visit experience insight across a wide range of visitors at much lower cost than has traditionally been the case.  This has opened up the possibility of using robust visitor feedback to inform developments in the visit experience to many
attractions and destinations for whom this has previously been out of reach.

To understand more, visit www.decisionhouse.co.uk/experience-eye

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