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How to unlock your Best VX

Published: 12 Dec 2019

V&A Dundee offered the perfect setting to hold our new workshop on how to ‘Unlock your best visitor experience’.  A series of sessions explored why high-quality visitor experiences are increasingly important, how to begin designing the right experience, and how to attract more visitors through online marketing.


Gordon Morrison, CEO at ASVA, set the scene with a review of the Scottish attractions sector, highlighting the great work that has happened and how sites are developing great visitor experiences.

  • 7 years year on year growth of visits to Scottish Attractions
  • Nearly 31 million visitors in 2018
  • 8 million visits to Scotland’s top 10 attractions
  • Growing domestic visits

Moving into 2020 and beyond, Gordon shared with us the areas of most importance when creating visitor experiences and the key factors that makes a modern visitor experience:

  • Unique, personal and memorable experiences
  • Proactive and inspiring service delivery
  • Information on a wide range of topics
  • Something that you can’t get from a guidebook
  • Using technology
  • No second chances

Overall an exciting time for Scottish attractions, however visitor expectations are increasing, and the quality of experience must match, if not exceed those expectations. This is where Gordon believes focus and investment should be for ASVA members.

Session 1: Interpretation Planning

Steve Slack, Interpretation Specialist & Writer for ATS, delivered a practical session on how to develop an interpretation plan, be it for digital or physical projects. Steve’s simplified approach of evaluating Why, Who, What, How set out a methodology any organisation can adopt.

Delegates shared what good looks like now at their attraction, which resulted in a great number of ways they were delivering unique visitor experiences. From personal tour guides, sensory experiences, puffins (your USP!), interpretation panels and leaflets, audio, film and digital interactives. It reinforced the point that every attraction is unique with its own stories, assets and particular audiences and so requires its own tailored experience.

Session 2: Choosing the right tools

Following on from Steve’s session, Spencer suggested you stop looking at the shiny new technology first and begin by asking yourself, what’s your problem? Before you jump straight to the ‘How’ you will deliver experiences, clearly understand the purpose of your project, what are you trying to fix or improve, what assets and resources do you have available to you and what is the audience you are wishing to engage with? Only once you know these, you can start to explore the ‘How’s’ in the most effective way.  Remember, only a reached audience can be an engaged audience – so choose your tools wisely!

Session 3: Digital tips on how to get better sales

So now you know the opportunities and rewards on offer and the need to develop a great visitor experience, you understand how to create an interpretation plan and what will be your best tools to amaze and delight visitors, but will they visit? Andy Headington provided 20 fantastic digital marketing tips to drive traffic to your website and increase ticket sales. Some insightful and surprising findings too around what are the most effective platforms for converting paying customers. Some highlights:

  • Audiences are increasingly using mobile to search for travel, attractions and accommodation
  • Google Pay Per Click is increasing (75% in 3 years) cost per click is increasing
  • Facebook spend is up BUT rarely converts to ticket sales

10 of the top tips to increase sales online:

  1. Look after your brand – make sure your Google My Business page is up to date, encourage reviews and photo posts.
  2. Make the most of other attraction’s SEO – piggy back on searches that are relevant to you – be smart.
  3. Don’t pay for traffic you already get – if you have visitors via natural search and unpaid channels – don’t pay for it via PPC etc.
  4. Free PPC? – Check if you are legible for Google Ad Grants for Charities
  5. Be engaging on social – don’t just broadcast (search ranks relevance & engagement higher).
  6. Change your view on social – an effective range of tools for increasing reach and engagement – try out and see what works best for you.
  7. Do more email! Opens rates are pretty good – build your CRM.
  8. Track data correctly to see what is working for your attraction: bad data in = bad data out.
  9. Remarketing – try marketing a new / targeted offer to people who didn’t buy previously.
  10. Pumpkins! – utilise opportunity for free publicity make your attraction ‘showoff-able’ and encourage social sharing.

The workshop proved to not only be a great opportunity to get creative and think outside of the box when considering visitor experience, but it also offered delegates the opportunity to network and discuss their own experiences working in the sector.

ATS will be delivering more workshops in 2020, so please keep an eye out on our social profiles and website for updates on workshop dates and locations. Please also sign up to the Occasional Newsletter to keep track of all the company updates by emailing

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