32 BUSINESS FEATURE: MUSEUMS AND VISITOR ATTRACTIONS
What’s the story? In museums and visitor attractions, a thirst for the latest technology has to be balanced with engaging storytelling to compete for attention in a prosperous global sector. Duncan Proctor reports
ften in spite of wider economic factors, the museums and visitor attractions sector has remained a thriving market that enjoys a healthy supply of investment and cuttingedge technology. Venues aim to steer a course that enables them to both entice new visitors while also securing all-important repeat visits. This has led to centres becoming more complex and including greater levels of interaction and personalisation. The commercial element also demands that while exhibits are there to educate and entertain, keeping people interested results in longer dwell times and a higher retail spend.
Arms race As happens in many markets, there is something of an arms race as exhibitions compete with each other to improve the way guests experience and interact within the space. Interactive digital media is now commonplace; therefore museums have to include other elements as well as more sophisticated
technology. Visitor expectations have also evolved, with the average customer much more tech savvy than ﬁve or 10 years ago, which increases what is needed to entertain them and attain a fully immersive experience for all. Technology is a central part of this race; however, it is crucial that it serves a purpose and is used to showcase the exhibits with a strong storytelling element. “It is important to start from the content and then consider how it is to be displayed to best effect,” states Ian Crosby, sales and marketing director at Zytronic. The aim is to make the journey as personal as possible to each visitor so everyone can experience something slightly different when they visit an attraction. “We see an everincreasing demand for the ability to make the visitor experience more personal,” says Matt Barton, CEO at 7thSense Design. This also helps visitors feel part of exhibits – immersed, rather than spectators observing from a distance. It’s important that both the visitor and the exhibit are considered at every level of technology speciﬁcation and implementation. If this doesn’t happen, venues can end up
Key Points A balance has to be struck between incorporating cutting-edge technology and telling a compelling story A particular focus for venues is creating exhibits that can be personalised by the visitor to give a more tailored experience While it is desirable to utilise leading-edge technology, this has to be balanced with ease of use and familiarity for the visitor Use of touch technology across venues could soon be overtaken by emerging technologies such as gesture and proximity sensors, and object recognition being showcases for technology rather than a particular theme or period in history. Another important factor is balancing the use of leading-edge and more established technology; this ensures that exhibits with a high level of interaction will still be easy for most visitors to experience.