How innovative experiences are changing visitor expectations

A recent article in Experience UK noted there has been a rise in demand for unique and novel attractions. This shift coincides with a decline in attendance at traditional cultural attractions. The article suggested guests now expect more from venues, including more immersive experiences. It went on to say this demand for experiences was “partly fueled by competitive socialising“.

The City Adventurers have long been fans of interactive entertainment and immersive experiences. But we still enjoy the traditional cultural attractions, such as museums and art galleries. And, it seems, we have been ‘competitively socialising’ for decades……even before it was a thing!

At Natural History Museum
At Natural History Museum

Competitive socialising

The term ‘competitive socialising’ is defined in the article as a trend where people seek new experiences to share on social media platforms like Instagram. New experiences include escape rooms, axe-throwing and the (not so new experience) dining with entertainment, plus the rise in immersive and interactive digital art experiences.

As for dining with entertainment, the City Adventurers have been writing, producing and attending murder mystery dinners for decades. The competitive challenge of solving a murder mystery while enjoying a meal has long been a favourite activity of ours. We have also been sharing tales of our adventures with people since before social media platforms were even invented.

Escape rooms have evolved over the last couple of decades. Back in 2015, when I wrote the book on social team-building, they were just becoming a thing. Now, these themed experiences involve movie quality set design and imaginative locking devices, in addition to a strong narrative and intriguing puzzles.

Immersive art experiences are just coming to the fore. Some are incredibly good. Some not so good. Like Escape rooms have evolved, I expect these to evolve with the best examples rising to the top.

Visitor expectations

Above all, attractions need to consider how to meet guest expectations and retain visitor interest. While this can mean accommodating new technologies, the priority should be thinking about the visitor journey.

Too often we have seen venues throw the latest technology at a project just because they can and they think it is expected of them. If it doesn’t enhance the experience, please don’t do it.

For example, having four (or more) people trying to see a hand held device is a recipe for disaster. Not everyone gets to take part. Also, if your technology requires guests to use their phone, do you have free WiFi and offer spare phones to people who do not have a compatible phone with them? It may come as a surprise to some venues, but not everyone has a smart phone or a phone that works in different countries!

Sometimes the best part about an immersive experience is the human interaction. The actors who make you feel like you are really looking for a homicidal clown or who convince you to run before the Cybermen arrive. (Both real examples).

Finally a plea. Do not throw the baby out with the bath water. Don’t think its time to pull the plug on traditional cultural attractions. Remember the prediction we would all be reading on tablets and books would be a thing of the past? Books are here to stay. Reading has health benefits whatever you read on. Paper copy and digital copy can live side-by-side.

Similarly, there is still interest and benefits from visiting traditional art galleries and museums alongside the newer attractions.

Want to join us on an adventure? Become a City Adventurer!

The UK based Social Club for people who love visiting shows, exploring new places, discovering new things and solving mysteries.
Life is a journey so experience it’s adventure with like minded people. Live the life you’ve always dreamed of. City Adventurers Membership includes invitations to adventures and travel mainly in the UK

City Adventurers meet Star Wars

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