Visitors who willingly line up for hours at the Louvre to gaze upon Leonardo da Vinci’s masterpiece do so for experience, not for seeing or discovering.
So it will prove post-pandemic for organizations that have harnessed virtual visits during this period of closure. In the uncertain months ahead, attractions must think about the boon of new virtual engagements within the broader context of accessibility from a visitor’s viewpoint.
Turn Virtual Visits into Onsite Experiences
Virtual tours will endure as accompaniments, not impediments, to in-person visits and attractions should consider the function each online engagement serves — does it simply entertain, inform a potential visit, or serve as a follow up experience? Virtual engagements have highlighted the expansive reach of attractions and, accordingly, must be tied into future marketing plans.
“It’s about accessibility, across the board [of attractions]” said Staci Mellman Chief Marketing Officer at Visit Florida in a recent webinar who sees great value for out-of-state visitors, “these virtual experiences are lowering the barrier, [tourists] have limited time, there’s risk in every decision and a virtual experience lowers this risk, [attractions] should lean into it.”
Segment your audiences and consider what information each one needs before making a visit. Then ask; what virtual resources can serve these needs?
When it comes to planning for physical visits, try, as best as possible to experience your space from the point of view of your visitors. Richard Peterson, President of U.S. Cultural & Heritage Marketing Council, believes reopenings should follow local jurisdiction guidelines given the lack of uniformity across sectors and states. “Think from the point of the consumer,” Peterson said in a recent webinar, “plan ahead, how are you going to deal with challenges, with guest non-compliance, unwillingness to socially distance.”
Inevitably, there will be mistakes and hiccups to begin with— an exit survey is an excellent way to iron out the kinks early on. Remember, the experience will be as baffling and challenging for visitors as the host organizations implementing them. Safety must be prioritzed but it doesn’t have to result in an unpleasant experience.
The Mona Lisa Moment
Think back those long lines trailing through The Louvre. For decades, visitors have been willing to forgo considerations of time and personal convenience to experience something they believe to be truly special. Use the power of virtual visitation to spark curiosity and awareness of your attraction’s uniqueness. Follow up by curating a safe and comfortable visitor experience.