Sunday, August 29, 2010

Sunday's signpost

We saw this sign on an overlook at a castle in Lisbon, Portugal. This is an interesting alternative to porcelain enamel signs, which work well in locations where things don't change, like historic or natural overlooks. It's very Portuguese as well... Lisbon is loaded with gorgeous tile.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Is your visitor experience broken?

I hadn't watched this since I posted it three years ago. It's still as funny and educational as ever.

Seth Godin's hilarious talk on broken experiences is still a must-see. One of the things I help clients understand is how their visitor experience might be broken, and how to fix it. Enjoy.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Sunday's signpost

Okay, so when the previous French restaurant closes due to lack of customers, and you're planning on opening another French restaurant in this location, what do you name it? NOT "Bistro Au Revoir" (Goodbye, Bistro).

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Visitor experience at Ladybird Johnson Wildflower Center

In the past I have had the pleasure of visiting the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center. The center, a little south of Austin, TX is a beautiful example of mission and business practice being aligned.

Buildings are built using sustainable green building practices.

Cooling stone breezeways were designed to give visitors a place to get out of the sun, as well as cool the buildings. Note the chilled drinking water dispenser on the right.

This water cistern collects and holds rainwater for use by the facility, while also being beautifully striking.

Tip of the Day: My only constructive critique is about their name. While Lady Bird Johnson is beloved in Texas, her name doesn't convey what this facility is truly about. And "wildflower center" conjures up an image of wide-open fields of Texas bluebonnets, not this wonderful garden, shop, cafe, and research facility. Since writing this original post, the Center is now part of the University of Texas at Austin. I hope they consider a more descriptive and customer-friendly name brand to get visitors to see this wonderful garden.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Improving the effectiveness of rules signs

UK researchers Melissa Bateson, Daniel Nettle, and Gilbert Roberts found that people are more likely to follow posted rules if the sign includes an image of eyes watching them. I posted this several years ago, and am wondering if any museums or zoos tried it?

I'm frequently asked for ideas on how to word "rules" signs so that visitors follow them. This innovative study, which you can find on Daniel Nettle's Web site, studied whether people were more likely to donate money to an office coffee fund if the poster design changed--from a header of flowers to human eyes. They studied several different versions of the poster, with and without eyes, and found that people were three times as likely to comply with the posted rules when eyes were present.

Images used on poster (from their paper posted online)

They are guessing that the feeling of being watched, however subtle, influences behavior. It's called "reputational concern" in behaviorist-speak. So, if you work at a zoo, and don't want people pounding on the glass at a primate exhibit, try primate eyes on the sign. In a natural history or archeology museum, try a photograph of a person's eyes that is themed to your exhibits. See their paper for more specifics.

Sunday, August 08, 2010

Sunday's signpost

This state historic park recently went through a branding process. These double banners promote events and also identify parking lots.

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Visitor experience tips from a high-end grocery store

I first wrote about Central Market, in Austin, TX four years ago. It's an upscale grocery store on steroids. The store is arranged in enclosed sections; as you walk through you feel like you are discovering new stores within a store. A fabulous take-out cafe. Incredible flowers. Amazing produce. Bulk foods that go on for aisles. While I was intrigued, I told myself, “I’ve seen this stuff before. They just have more of it.” If you're a museum that has very similar exhibits to other museums in your category (science center, children's museum, natural history museum), read on to learn how this store wowed me.

And then I found the Fresh Spa Bar.

It’s set up like a salad bar, with chilled pots of moisturizers, masques, foot polishes, and sugar scrubs. It smelled heavenly and luxurious, and the chilled cart reinforced that everything was freshly concocted. How could you take a "typical" exhibit and give it a twist that sets it apart?

I could choose a cute one-ounce pot of anything for $2.99, stick on the label, and fill it up. Now, I don’t usually buy anything that costs $48 per pound! But at that moment I wasn’t interested in doing the math; this was fun and special. Even though I didn’t need anything, it was sweltering outside, and I was getting on a plane, I mixed up three containers, and then continued shopping.

Some Central Market staff members, called Foodies, are encouraged to open any product for a taste, and it’s one of the most popular tourist attractions in Austin. They got me excited about spending $25, because the experience was so enchanting, so different. Note that this grocery store is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Austin! This is your competition, museum people!

This is an excerpt from Creating Great Visitor Experiences: A Guide for Museums, Parks, Zoos, Gardens, and Libraries. Thanks to Kevin Blessing, General Manager of the North Lamar store, for the interview and permission to use photos.

Sunday, August 01, 2010

Sunday's signpost

Sometimes a hand-made sign is still the most effective. I especially love the Skippy peanut butter box.