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Tourism
The winds of change

The coming decade will bring unprecedented experimentation within the attractions sector and those who aren’t willing to get truly creative risk getting left behind, argues Dr Terry Stevens


Bob Dylan’s refrain, The Winds of Change Are Blowing Wild and Free, on his 1997 album Time Out of Mind echoes his earlier anthem, The Times They Are A’Changin’. The sentiment is prescient and wholly relevant today. The pandemic, together with other global crises, has shifted many aspects of leisure consumer behaviour, demanding a response from the supply side of our industry.

Nowhere is this challenge more pronounced than in the attractions sector. It is time to reconsider the concept of a visitor attraction. Time to scrutinise their role and purpose. Time to re-imagine their business and operational models. It was 30 years ago when, in 1993, my essay Playgrounds or Agents of Social and Cultural Development won the American Express Annual Award for Travel. The text challenged theme parks and other attractions to become benchmarks of sustainable development and to recognise the needs of thoughtful consumers with their new priorities for selecting their leisure experiences. Very few rose to the challenge. Three decades on there is a new imperative to act. Precious time is definitely slipping away.

The heartbeat thumping the sector into action is compliance with the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals and the paradigm shifts within the industry that will have profound impacts on how we re-imagine the future of the development and planning of attractions.

These paradigm shifts are:

HYBRIDITY & TRANSFORMATION:
The appearance of novel, unique solutions, in product development, experience creation and tourist engagement that are blurring definitions and making it increasingly difficult to categorise and accredit an ‘attraction’ – and does it matter anymore if a product receives a 5 star or a 2 star assessment by a tourist board? Initiatives that boldly go where few have been before to make a positive transformational impact will prevail.

OUTLIERS:
As part of the era of the hybrid, we’re seeing the rapid emergence of attractions that would have been regarded as being ‘left-of-field’, or quirky, but now these niche outliers are fast becoming mainstream – ‘who would have thought it’ ideas are now becoming the expected, delivered by hybrid-thinkers and often developed by the new pirates (as they have been described).

CO-CREATION:
Multi-faceted, multi-layered, co-created, and collaborative unique experiences capable of commanding high value and capturing guest attention and involving the guest in their design will become a demand driver for destinations.

CO-DEPENDENCY:
A cornerstone of co-created experiences is the need for destination stakeholders to work together and recognise a co-dependency tourism eco-system rather than a business-centric, ego-system.

ELASTICITY:
The need for everyone involved in attraction development to be more agile, flexible, and fluid in their design, planning , and operations, welcoming new ideas, different ways of working, and nurturing innovation.

TALENT:
Exploring the idea that an individual’s talent may well be more important to a tourism business than a traditional skill or qualification – the fact that your security guard is the best fiddle player in the village might be more important than his security qualifications.

VALUE:
The culmination of these shifts is resulting in our need to re-calibrate all aspects of perceived and real value of tourism in our destinations and, ultimately, to deliver new metrics of success.

In this context, much has been written about the experience economy and how attractions can deliver memorable experiences to add value and competitiveness. However, as Design Hotels founder Claus Sendlinger has challenged us on many occasions, “The tourism industry needs innovative and creative ideas to survive but the industry is not sufficiently innovative or creative to deliver what will be needed. We need hybrid thinkers delivering hybrid solutions.”

The next five to 10 years in the sector will be a period of unprecedented experimentation, where old formulas no longer hold true; where traditional forms of partnership and collaboration will have to change and where hybrid solutions created by hybrid thinkers will prove to be winners. This will be about creating the ‘new-extraordinary’. In the words of Martin Raymond of The Future Laboratory: “We’ve spent our time fretting about the New Normal, when we should be talking about the New Extra-ordinary! The pandemic has precipitated scientific advancement, championed innovation, and ushered in a new age of collaboration, challenge, and accelerated change”.

Key to successful experience creation in attractions are the twin notions of co-creation and co-dependency. How can tourism (and other) stakeholders work and play better together to ensure optimal sustainable outcomes and exceptional experiences? For K Michael Haywood, Professor Emeritus, School of Hospitality, Food and Tourism at the University of Guelph in Ontario, Canada, the answer in his 2021 ebook Astonish, Smarter Tourism by Design is that, “There is a need for well-developed eco-systems (networks and clusters) for innovation within the tourism industry, its various interdependent yet operationally independent sectors, and all host communities and neighbourhoods.”

This brave new world will not be kind to, or tolerant of, a traditional visitor attraction offering well-rehearsed, tired, experiences – be it a castle, stately home, theme park, or zoo. There are examples of enlightened investors and operators embracing these changes who are ahead of the curve; they are few and far between, but they prove the winds of change bring wonderful opportunities to refresh, re-ignite, and regenerate the attractions sector.

Hybridity characterises the success stories in this new world. Take for example, Jupiter Artland near Edinburgh – an extraordinary collection of large-scale artworks in an heritage setting on the western fringe of Edinburgh. Or Monastero di Astino, Bergamo, Italy – a former monastery that’s a working farmscape, a religious centre, an exposition of local food and drink, and a conference and cultural venue. Or global trendsetting attraction Ars Electronica in Linz, Austria – an iconic building housing a collection of immersive exhibits exploring the interrelationship between art, technology, and society together with the inspirational 8-D Deep Space Evolution. Other successful hybrids showing how it can be done include Hauser & Wirth, Somerset, UK; Meneghetti Winery and Hotel, Istria; ARoS, Aarhus, Denmark; and Babylonstoren, Franschhoek, Western Cape.

These attractions all combine several different offers to create something new, fresh and intriguing – none of them are playing it safe.

Undoubtedly, the trendsetter of these new ways of thinking about attractions and experiences is the Slovenian Tourist Board (STB) with its national initiative, known as Slovenian Unique Experiences (SUE). The STB have created a scheme for the curation of unique, 5 star Slovenian experiences that conforms to the requirements of the national tourism strategy and are evaluated by an independent commission prior to going to market.

Each proposal has to meet 40 criteria within 10 thematic groups: Local identity, Authentic, Unique, Experiential, Green, Boutique, Premium, Added value, Off-season, Digitally enabled.

The result is a wonderful palette of experiences delivering the new extraordinary. A template for the way to realign our attractions, maybe?

Terry Stevens

Successful hybrid attractions Terry Stevens’ pick
Jupiter Artland, Near Edinburgh, UK

An extraordinary collection of large-scale artworks in an heritage setting on the western fringe of Edinburgh

Ars Electronica, Linz, Austria

Austrian cultural, education and scientific institute exploring new technology and its impact on our futures via the ‘Museum of the Future’, the annual Ars Electronica Festival, an innovation campus and the Prix Ars prize

Monastero di Astino, Bergamo, Italy

This former monastery has been renovated as a centre of sustainable agriculture and local culture. It is a working farmscape, a religious centre, an exposition of local food and drink, and a conference and cultural venue

Meneghetti Winery and Hotel, Istria

Part winery with tasting rooms and visitor centre, part hotel with villas and gardens, a conference and cultural centre, and a gastronomic celebration.

Roxanich, Istria

This old farm storehouse has been converted into a contemporary design hotel with a five storey underground winery and visitor attractions together with conference centre and art galleries.

ARoS, Aarhus, Denmark

Contemporary art gallery with a rooftop immersive 360 degree walk through attraction, restaurants, and speakeasy of debates and discussions.

Babylonstoren, Franschhoek, Western Cape

This western Cape historic farm has been converted into a contemporary mix of gardens, accommodation, spa and wellness facilities and gastronomic experiences by the same owners as The Newt in Somerset.

Ljubljana Castle, Slovenia

This visitor experience has been transformed from a predictable, heritage offer to a centre featuring numerous attractions, restaurants, extraordinary living history experiences, and retail.

Art Circle, Brda, Slovenia

In spring this southwest corner of Slovenia comes alive with a unique range of art galleries, gastronomic experiences, and locally curated pop-up attractions

Ljubljana Castle in Slovenia has been tranformed Credit: Photo: Miha Mally
ARoS art museum in Aarhus, Denmark Credit: Photo: Shutterstock
Art Circle in Brda, Slovenia hosts art and gastronomic events Credit: Photo: Brda Institute
Meneghetti Winery & Hotel in Istria, Italy: “Ahead of the curve” Credit: Photo: Meneghetti
Monastero di Astino in Bergamo, Italy is a hybrid success story Credit: Photo: shutterstock
Arz Electronica explores art, technology and society Credit: Photo: Ars Electronica
Joana Vasconcelos: Gateway at Jupiter Artland, Edinburgh Credit: Photo: Owen-Humphreys_Courtesy_Jupiter-Artland
Jupiter Artland showcases art in a heritage setting Credit: Photo: Allan-Pollok-Morris_Courtesy_Jupiter-Artland
COMPANY PROFILES
RMA Ltd

RMA Ltd is a one-stop global company that can design, build and produce from a greenfield site upw [more...]
DJW

David & Lynn Willrich started the Company over thirty years ago, from the Audio Visual Department [more...]
WhiteWater

WhiteWater was born in 1980 with one clear purpose, to create places where families unite and make j [more...]
Simworx Ltd

The company was initially established in 1997. Terry Monkton and Andrew Roberts are the key stakeh [more...]
+ More profiles  
FEATURED SUPPLIER

Attractions industry to reunite this September at IAAPA Expo Europe in London
For the first time in more than a decade, industry leaders from across the global attractions industry will once again gather in London as part of the annual IAAPA Expo Europe, the sector’s premier international event. [more...]
VIDEO GALLERY

Red Raion TV - Testimonial: Leolandia
When you work in the Attractions Industry, there’s nothing better than seeing that dreamy look in the eyes of the people who have just tried your attraction. Find out more...
More videos:
Keynote | Moby Dick - Friends to the rescue! – Red Raion
Red Raion Showreel 2021 – Red Raion
Red Raion Showreel 2021 – Red Raion
+ More videos  

CATALOGUE GALLERY
 

+ More catalogues  
DIRECTORY
+ More directory  
DIARY

 

27-29 Sep 2022

International Congress on Thermal Tourism

Ourense, Ourense, Spain
13 Oct 2022

VAC 2022

The ICC Birmingham, Birmingham, United Kingdom
+ More diary  
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©Cybertrek 2022
Jobs    News   Products   Magazine
Tourism
The winds of change

The coming decade will bring unprecedented experimentation within the attractions sector and those who aren’t willing to get truly creative risk getting left behind, argues Dr Terry Stevens


Bob Dylan’s refrain, The Winds of Change Are Blowing Wild and Free, on his 1997 album Time Out of Mind echoes his earlier anthem, The Times They Are A’Changin’. The sentiment is prescient and wholly relevant today. The pandemic, together with other global crises, has shifted many aspects of leisure consumer behaviour, demanding a response from the supply side of our industry.

Nowhere is this challenge more pronounced than in the attractions sector. It is time to reconsider the concept of a visitor attraction. Time to scrutinise their role and purpose. Time to re-imagine their business and operational models. It was 30 years ago when, in 1993, my essay Playgrounds or Agents of Social and Cultural Development won the American Express Annual Award for Travel. The text challenged theme parks and other attractions to become benchmarks of sustainable development and to recognise the needs of thoughtful consumers with their new priorities for selecting their leisure experiences. Very few rose to the challenge. Three decades on there is a new imperative to act. Precious time is definitely slipping away.

The heartbeat thumping the sector into action is compliance with the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals and the paradigm shifts within the industry that will have profound impacts on how we re-imagine the future of the development and planning of attractions.

These paradigm shifts are:

HYBRIDITY & TRANSFORMATION:
The appearance of novel, unique solutions, in product development, experience creation and tourist engagement that are blurring definitions and making it increasingly difficult to categorise and accredit an ‘attraction’ – and does it matter anymore if a product receives a 5 star or a 2 star assessment by a tourist board? Initiatives that boldly go where few have been before to make a positive transformational impact will prevail.

OUTLIERS:
As part of the era of the hybrid, we’re seeing the rapid emergence of attractions that would have been regarded as being ‘left-of-field’, or quirky, but now these niche outliers are fast becoming mainstream – ‘who would have thought it’ ideas are now becoming the expected, delivered by hybrid-thinkers and often developed by the new pirates (as they have been described).

CO-CREATION:
Multi-faceted, multi-layered, co-created, and collaborative unique experiences capable of commanding high value and capturing guest attention and involving the guest in their design will become a demand driver for destinations.

CO-DEPENDENCY:
A cornerstone of co-created experiences is the need for destination stakeholders to work together and recognise a co-dependency tourism eco-system rather than a business-centric, ego-system.

ELASTICITY:
The need for everyone involved in attraction development to be more agile, flexible, and fluid in their design, planning , and operations, welcoming new ideas, different ways of working, and nurturing innovation.

TALENT:
Exploring the idea that an individual’s talent may well be more important to a tourism business than a traditional skill or qualification – the fact that your security guard is the best fiddle player in the village might be more important than his security qualifications.

VALUE:
The culmination of these shifts is resulting in our need to re-calibrate all aspects of perceived and real value of tourism in our destinations and, ultimately, to deliver new metrics of success.

In this context, much has been written about the experience economy and how attractions can deliver memorable experiences to add value and competitiveness. However, as Design Hotels founder Claus Sendlinger has challenged us on many occasions, “The tourism industry needs innovative and creative ideas to survive but the industry is not sufficiently innovative or creative to deliver what will be needed. We need hybrid thinkers delivering hybrid solutions.”

The next five to 10 years in the sector will be a period of unprecedented experimentation, where old formulas no longer hold true; where traditional forms of partnership and collaboration will have to change and where hybrid solutions created by hybrid thinkers will prove to be winners. This will be about creating the ‘new-extraordinary’. In the words of Martin Raymond of The Future Laboratory: “We’ve spent our time fretting about the New Normal, when we should be talking about the New Extra-ordinary! The pandemic has precipitated scientific advancement, championed innovation, and ushered in a new age of collaboration, challenge, and accelerated change”.

Key to successful experience creation in attractions are the twin notions of co-creation and co-dependency. How can tourism (and other) stakeholders work and play better together to ensure optimal sustainable outcomes and exceptional experiences? For K Michael Haywood, Professor Emeritus, School of Hospitality, Food and Tourism at the University of Guelph in Ontario, Canada, the answer in his 2021 ebook Astonish, Smarter Tourism by Design is that, “There is a need for well-developed eco-systems (networks and clusters) for innovation within the tourism industry, its various interdependent yet operationally independent sectors, and all host communities and neighbourhoods.”

This brave new world will not be kind to, or tolerant of, a traditional visitor attraction offering well-rehearsed, tired, experiences – be it a castle, stately home, theme park, or zoo. There are examples of enlightened investors and operators embracing these changes who are ahead of the curve; they are few and far between, but they prove the winds of change bring wonderful opportunities to refresh, re-ignite, and regenerate the attractions sector.

Hybridity characterises the success stories in this new world. Take for example, Jupiter Artland near Edinburgh – an extraordinary collection of large-scale artworks in an heritage setting on the western fringe of Edinburgh. Or Monastero di Astino, Bergamo, Italy – a former monastery that’s a working farmscape, a religious centre, an exposition of local food and drink, and a conference and cultural venue. Or global trendsetting attraction Ars Electronica in Linz, Austria – an iconic building housing a collection of immersive exhibits exploring the interrelationship between art, technology, and society together with the inspirational 8-D Deep Space Evolution. Other successful hybrids showing how it can be done include Hauser & Wirth, Somerset, UK; Meneghetti Winery and Hotel, Istria; ARoS, Aarhus, Denmark; and Babylonstoren, Franschhoek, Western Cape.

These attractions all combine several different offers to create something new, fresh and intriguing – none of them are playing it safe.

Undoubtedly, the trendsetter of these new ways of thinking about attractions and experiences is the Slovenian Tourist Board (STB) with its national initiative, known as Slovenian Unique Experiences (SUE). The STB have created a scheme for the curation of unique, 5 star Slovenian experiences that conforms to the requirements of the national tourism strategy and are evaluated by an independent commission prior to going to market.

Each proposal has to meet 40 criteria within 10 thematic groups: Local identity, Authentic, Unique, Experiential, Green, Boutique, Premium, Added value, Off-season, Digitally enabled.

The result is a wonderful palette of experiences delivering the new extraordinary. A template for the way to realign our attractions, maybe?

Terry Stevens

Successful hybrid attractions Terry Stevens’ pick
Jupiter Artland, Near Edinburgh, UK

An extraordinary collection of large-scale artworks in an heritage setting on the western fringe of Edinburgh

Ars Electronica, Linz, Austria

Austrian cultural, education and scientific institute exploring new technology and its impact on our futures via the ‘Museum of the Future’, the annual Ars Electronica Festival, an innovation campus and the Prix Ars prize

Monastero di Astino, Bergamo, Italy

This former monastery has been renovated as a centre of sustainable agriculture and local culture. It is a working farmscape, a religious centre, an exposition of local food and drink, and a conference and cultural venue

Meneghetti Winery and Hotel, Istria

Part winery with tasting rooms and visitor centre, part hotel with villas and gardens, a conference and cultural centre, and a gastronomic celebration.

Roxanich, Istria

This old farm storehouse has been converted into a contemporary design hotel with a five storey underground winery and visitor attractions together with conference centre and art galleries.

ARoS, Aarhus, Denmark

Contemporary art gallery with a rooftop immersive 360 degree walk through attraction, restaurants, and speakeasy of debates and discussions.

Babylonstoren, Franschhoek, Western Cape

This western Cape historic farm has been converted into a contemporary mix of gardens, accommodation, spa and wellness facilities and gastronomic experiences by the same owners as The Newt in Somerset.

Ljubljana Castle, Slovenia

This visitor experience has been transformed from a predictable, heritage offer to a centre featuring numerous attractions, restaurants, extraordinary living history experiences, and retail.

Art Circle, Brda, Slovenia

In spring this southwest corner of Slovenia comes alive with a unique range of art galleries, gastronomic experiences, and locally curated pop-up attractions

Ljubljana Castle in Slovenia has been tranformed Credit: Photo: Miha Mally
ARoS art museum in Aarhus, Denmark Credit: Photo: Shutterstock
Art Circle in Brda, Slovenia hosts art and gastronomic events Credit: Photo: Brda Institute
Meneghetti Winery & Hotel in Istria, Italy: “Ahead of the curve” Credit: Photo: Meneghetti
Monastero di Astino in Bergamo, Italy is a hybrid success story Credit: Photo: shutterstock
Arz Electronica explores art, technology and society Credit: Photo: Ars Electronica
Joana Vasconcelos: Gateway at Jupiter Artland, Edinburgh Credit: Photo: Owen-Humphreys_Courtesy_Jupiter-Artland
Jupiter Artland showcases art in a heritage setting Credit: Photo: Allan-Pollok-Morris_Courtesy_Jupiter-Artland
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Queen Elizabeth II to be commemorated by Thames' Illuminated River
Illuminated River, described as the world’s longest public artwork, will be lit in commemoration of the passing of Her Majesty The Queen, Elizabeth II.
Brad Pitt makes debut as sculptor at Finnish art museum
Hollywood superstar, Brad Pitt, has made his debut as a sculptor as part of British artist Thomas Houseago’s first ever exhibition in the Nordic countries.
World's longest and 'technologically advanced' zipline planned for Iceland
A 1km-long zipline offering riders speeds of 120km/h is set to open in Iceland later this year.
Triotech secures deal to supply rides for Puy Du Fou Asia's first Chinese attraction
Triotech has secured a deal to supply its interactive ride technology for the SAGA Experience, an immersive attraction being developed in the heart of Shanghai, China, by Puy du Fou Asia.
Tangled attraction among new additions revealed for Disneyland Paris Resort
A Tangled-themed family ride is among a range of new attractions revealed for the Walt Disney Studios Park at Disneyland Paris Resort, France.
Merlin takes over operations at UK's largest indoor waterpark
Merlin Entertainments has secured a contract to operate Blackpool Sandcastle, the UK's largest indoor waterpark.
HBG Design behind Michigan’s six-storey Aquadome inspired by the sun’s path across the sky
Hospitality and entertainment design firm HBG Design is helming the design of Michigan's new Gun Lake Casino Resort Aquadome – a glass-roofed, climate-controlled, indoor landscaped pool and event centre atrium environment.
IAAPA recognition for Blackpool Pleasure Beach to mark century-old relationship
Blackpool Pleasure Beach will be honoured at the IAAPA Expo Europe, being held in London later this month.
Preparations for construction of £250m Therme Manchester project get underway
Plans to start work on the UK’s first city-based wellbeing resort, Therme Manchester, at TraffordCity have progressed this week with preparations to clear the current site.
Merlin to open Legoland Resort in Belgium by 2027
Merlin Entertainments Group has revealed plans for a new Legoland theme park near Charleroi Airport in Belgium.
First images released for Merlin's Jumanji land at Chessington
Visuals have been released for the new Jumanji-themed land at Chessington World of Adventures in London, UK, which is set to open to the public in 2023.
Universal's Epic Universe set to open in 2025
Building work on Universal's Epic Universe – a new theme park at the Universal Orlando Resort in Florida, US – is advancing and the park is set to open to visitors in 2025.
+ More news   
 
COMPANY PROFILES
RMA Ltd

RMA Ltd is a one-stop global company that can design, build and produce from a greenfield site upw [more...]
DJW

David & Lynn Willrich started the Company over thirty years ago, from the Audio Visual Department [more...]
WhiteWater

WhiteWater was born in 1980 with one clear purpose, to create places where families unite and make j [more...]
Simworx Ltd

The company was initially established in 1997. Terry Monkton and Andrew Roberts are the key stakeh [more...]
+ More profiles  
FEATURED SUPPLIER

Attractions industry to reunite this September at IAAPA Expo Europe in London
For the first time in more than a decade, industry leaders from across the global attractions industry will once again gather in London as part of the annual IAAPA Expo Europe, the sector’s premier international event. [more...]
VIDEO GALLERY

Red Raion TV - Testimonial: Leolandia
When you work in the Attractions Industry, there’s nothing better than seeing that dreamy look in the eyes of the people who have just tried your attraction. Find out more...
More videos:
Keynote | Moby Dick - Friends to the rescue! – Red Raion
Red Raion Showreel 2021 – Red Raion
Red Raion Showreel 2021 – Red Raion
+ More videos  

CATALOGUE GALLERY
+ More catalogues  
DIRECTORY
+ More directory  
DIARY

 

27-29 Sep 2022

International Congress on Thermal Tourism

Ourense, Ourense, Spain
13 Oct 2022

VAC 2022

The ICC Birmingham, Birmingham, United Kingdom
+ More diary  
 


ADVERTISE . CONTACT US

Leisure Media
Tel: +44 (0)1462 431385

©Cybertrek 2022

ABOUT LEISURE MEDIA
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