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10 pop-up experience ideas for visitor attractions in 2021

The approval of vaccines from December 2020, has been greeted with joy as the chance to return to a ‘near normal’ life will soon be a reality. While the vaccines and warmer weather in the Northern Hemisphere will gradually lift the pain of the pandemic, this year will still see restrictions in place for visitor attractions.

Social distancing, mask wearing, reduced visitor capacities and additional cleaning procedures will still be a part of operating attractions in 2021. Visitors will be excited to return, but still wary and tentative to make the decision to visit.

To help attractions encourage visitors to return, we have compiled 10 pop-up experience ideas for visitor attractions to implement this year. These ideas provide unique experiences that won’t cost as much as a permanent development, but will still drive footfall, revenue and provide additional Covid-secure areas around the attraction.

#1 – Alfresco dining experience

We’ve all adapted to the idea of eating and drinking outdoors, and with the steady rise in popularity of street food markets before the pandemic hit, creating an alfresco dining experience can solve multiple challenges. Greater ventilation and social distancing can be maintained, all under the guise of a unique outdoor experience.

This is a dining experience we created in 2020 called Derby Market Place. This pop-up experience was situated in Derby city centre, where shoppers could enjoy food from their favourite local restaurants and eateries, while situated in an upbeat, nature-filled environment.

#2 – Light displays

Christmas themed projection mapping for a National Trust property, executed by Katapult

Outdoor Christmas light events were a huge hit in 2020, as attractions were able to facilitate visitors in a secure environment. While demand to visit your attraction will be high, facilitating everyone in a reduced capacity scenario will be a challenge. Night time events such as light displays can be a way to maximise on the demand and create a new revenue stream.

We have previously worked on a festive light display with National Trust, using 3D projection. The sell-out experience at Belton House also included musical performances and festive F&B.

#3 – Story-based trail

Imagine walking through the best queue line experience ever! This idea involves an indoor or outdoor space large enough to take guests on a linear journey, as they follow an immersive story line. Props, audio, interactive games and even actors/actresses can provide a dramatic themed experience that can still maintain social distancing.

We worked on an immersive queue line experience at Ireland’s top theme park, Tayto Park. We turned their Viking-inspired log flume queue line into a series of challenges, interactive games and photo opportunities to add fun and intrigue.

#4 – Interactive games

Under utilised space in your attractions now has value, as the need to keep guests distanced remains a challenge. These spaces are perfect for implementing interactive games to keep kids and adults entertained in another part of the attraction.

Interactive games don’t always need to use the latest technology, however. We were delighted to work with Merlin Entertainments and 19 of their LEGOLAND Discovery Centres worldwide, when we made creative tables for guests to make LEGO® models and vehicles capable of completing challenges.

#5 – Maker Sessions

One of the most popular trends of 2020 was arts and crafts. Drawing, painting, moulding and making were a huge part of passing time – which have now become hobbies. Providing guests with a chance to make something relevant at your attraction, is a great way to capitalise on the trend, diversify revenue stream and maintain social distancing with spaced out maker tables.

This was an idea capitalised on by our client Twycross Zoo, as they hosted Reindeer food sessions as part of their Christmas event which we helped create concept visuals for.

#6 – VIP Experiences

VIP experiences combine the benefits of greater revenue for attractions with a unique, private family experience that guarantees adherence to social restrictions. Private tours of unseen museum archives, getting up close and personal with zoo animals, or even hire of an entire cinema screen(!) – are examples of these.

#7 – Host an exhibition

How about hosting a pop-up exhibition from a museum or art gallery? Working together to curate an experience that is relevant to your attraction, can provide much needed support for fellow attraction owners, as well as adding a new experience for your guests to enjoy.

#8 – IP pop-up experience

Striking a partnership with an IP allowing them to have an activation in your attraction, is another opportunity available. IP owners continually look towards the leisure industry as a way to grow their portfolio and a pop-up offers them the opportunity to test their IPs in a new industry. You will be able to capitalise on their presence to drive ticket sales too.

#9 – Explorer trails

Attractions with outdoor spaces have probably used trails in the past to entertain children and provide tidbits of education. But, they still can be a valuable part of your attraction to accentuate the wildlife, buildings or behind-the-scenes areas at your disposal. What could be done to make explorer trails even more intriguing? A mystery trail where guests find clues, is just one example of bringing a new story into your experience.

#10 – Meet & Greet

Always popular with children is meeting their favourite characters at an attraction. Christmas experiences using Santa Claus has proved that these can still work, while maintaining social restrictions. Creating a more immersive environment, regardless of the distancing regulations, can still help to create a magical moment.

More pop-up ideas

The Katapult team are brimming full of more ideas to help your attraction generate footfall, revenue and guest satisfaction while maintaining social distancing requirements. To find out more pop-up experience ideas suitable for your attraction, get in touch with us today. We’d be delighted to hear about your 2021 plans.

Robbie
Jones

Robbie Jones is our Insights Analyst Lead, providing data-driven audience and market trends, to assist the design team in creating and delivering world-class experiences. As an experienced copywriter, Robbie is also our chief content creator - helping shape the narrative of the guest experience and tell stories with the panache and magic they deserve. His copywriting for London Dungeons, Sea Life and Madame Tussauds are personal highlights.