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Creating a food future for everyone with the National Food Museum [Helping Hands Project 2019]

Earlier this year, the Museum of East Anglian Life was named the winner of our competition to find our ‘Helping Hands Project Partner’ for 2019. We were so intrigued by the ambition and foresight of the museum team that we couldn’t wait to work with them and help realise their vision of expanding into the ‘National Food Museum’.

We chose to collaborate with the museum team in order to set them on the path to realising their vision and actualising their ambitious transition. The National Food Museum will become the place to embark on a journey to learn what it takes for your food to go from field to fork.

Our Helping Hands Project was set up to offer our services to a cause that needed it the most. We were looking for a guest experience project that we could lend our design skills to. The Museum of East Anglian Life team came to us with a grand masterplan to transition their current 75 acre Suffolk site into the UK’s only museum dedicated to food. They had the idea, they needed help to visualise the plan. That’s where we came in.

If you head over to our case study you can see an overview of the work that we did. But now, let’s look at how we did it…

Guest Experience first and foremost

The key to making this transition successful and impactful was to plan out the foundations of a fantastic guest experience. Our first port of call was a guest experience audit. By visiting the site and experiencing it as the average guest would, we gained clear and valuable insight into the challenges the museum was facing. We also charted the emotional journey of the experience.

Our next step was to create a new guest flow map that would provide the framework for a clear, self-guided journey through the site. We identified where the negative friction lay within the experience and took steps to create alternative routes and a smoother experience. Creating a central reception hub was essential, this would be a one-stop-shop for ticketing, orientation, day planning and retail. We also created distinct zones and clearer wayfinding to aid navigation. Another key element is the gated entrance/exit to the site which minimises visitor ‘leakage’ and manages numbers in an effective way.

Ultimately we want the guests to explore all corners of the museum, allowing them to connect emotionally with the content, and at the same time provide an opportunity for the in house team to track dwell time and visitor numbers.

Capitalising on the Primacy & Recency

At Katapult, we often take advantage of the Serial Position Effect within our planning and work. Essentially this theory boils down to a simple phenomenon; we are more likely to remember the first (Primacy) and last (Recency) parts of an experience.

With this knowledge, we created a guest flow that is topped and tailed with experiences designed to foster emotional engagement. Our proposed courtyard and reception hub were specifically designed to welcome guests with open arms and provide them with all they need to have a great visit.

In contrast, our pledge garden concept was specifically designed to be an area where guests can reflect upon and summarise their visit, which compounds their positive experience and emotional connection. This leaves guests with one last high note before they leave the site which often translates to positive guest ratings and reviews.

Commercially driven

While of course, it was incredibly important that the National Food Museum educated and entertained their visitors, it’s also incredibly important that the site is commercially viable.

This is why we created the ‘freemium’ courtyard area.

While the entrance courtyard is a welcoming and inviting space, this area is also designed to warm up the guests and to intrigue and entice them to purchase tickets and passthrough the pay barrier. It is also the key area for additional revenue streams. The courtyard is flanked by a cafe and several retail units which would be owned and operated by the museum. This offers an opportunity for upselling and diversifying revenue streams.

We also created a distinctive and premium brand for the National Food Museum. A brand that could sit shoulder to shoulder with other national, prestige museums and attractions. This new branding was also commercially driven as it can be used on a wide range of merchandise for another additional revenue stream.

The Museum of East Anglian life are at the beginning of a 10-year plan that will see them become the National Food Museum, thanks to the Helping Hands Project we have given them the tools to build their vision.

If you are embarking on a plan to upgrade your attraction or visitor destination, we could give you the tools to build your vision.

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