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PART 2: Blooloop Live Summary – Content and Visitor Attractions

Blooloop Live 2014 Blog content and visitor attractions

Following on from yesterday’s blog article summarising the branding for visitor attractions presentations at Blooloop Live, this post will cover the second session of talks around creating content for the attractions industry, chaired by Robert S. Simpson, Co-Founder of Electrosonic, who were also sponsors of the session.

 

BRAND EXPECTATIONS, PERCEPTIONS AND CONSISTENCY

The session started with Brand Experience Director Johnny Lyle and BeWILDerwood Director Simon Egan, who were introduced as being the Little and Large of attractions.

Johnny began by emphasising the earlier brand talks, stating that to build a world class attraction, you need to create differentiation and deliver on expectation. He gave Apple as an example of a brand we see and immediately associate with an expected level of service and quality. He counteracted this with the issues that Alfa Romeo had with quality in the 1970’s and how for many people, this perception still follows the brand around now.

He went on to say that throwing good money at marketing isn’t the answer either, and particularly where a bad product is concerned. He quoted from Jean Claude Larreche’s The Momentum Effect, saying that it’s better to invest in the quality of a product and re-invest in its development to attract and retain customers than trying hard to chase new customers with a sub-standard product.

Johnny explained how personal perceptions continue to shape brands, giving some examples of common brand perceptions such as ‘you don’t get many vegetarian Audi drivers’. He then showed us a collage of horses and asked “how do you know they’re horses if they don’t have logos on?” The point being, that our perception of brands is made up of lots of small things. Coca-Cola demonstrated this quite literally in 1915, when they set a brief to break a bottle into 100 pieces with the aim that it still be recognisable as a Coca-Cola bottle.

He finished by saying that the secret of branding isn’t about brands: “it’s about creating differences and then delivering them everywhere; consistency, consistently.” He said the future for brands was to focus on every touchpoint in the customer experience and to merchandise using content and storytelling.

 

BEWILDERWOOD, IMAGINATION AND STORYTELLING

Simon Egan initially introduced us to a picture of a pongy marsh in Norfolk and followed this with a promotional video for the BeWILDerwood attraction, an outdoor treehouse adventure park that replaced it.

The BeWILDerwood values guide every decision made at the attraction and were summed up as ‘fun, imagination and adventure.’ Simon pointed out that imagination was a key element here as the attraction is built around the requirement to interact with the environment in order to get the most out of the experience. Enabling families to play together, with parents joining in the activities rather than watching their children from the sidelines was a big consideration in the planning process.

Simon explained how important it was at the architectural planning stages for the woodland environment to actively encourage and promote the use of imagination and deliver real originality. A lot of care and attention to detail has been taken on everything from the personal touches on the park signage, to using local products and brands.The next step for BeWILDerwood was to continue to extend their social reach, encourage visitors to share their pictures and experiences and become advocates. This is when Johnny and Simon took a selfie.   

Asked in the Q&A session at the end what his strategy was for keeping the brand fresh, Simon responded by saying that there was still much to be done in creating stories around the BeWILDerwood brand and they’ve only just started with this potential.

They are currently looking at other pongy marsh locations for more BeWILDerwood attractions.

 

THE CHANGING NATURE OF CONTENT FOR NATURAL HISTORY MUSEUM

Defining content for the Natural History Museum as the 70 million specimens housed there, Louise Fitton, Head of Content Development, said the biggest ongoing challenge for her team was interpreting these for changing digital audiences.

Louise took us through pictures of the evolution of the Museum itself from its opening in 1881 until the present day, stating that the aim then and now is for the specimens on show to be a source of inspiration affecting the way people think about the natural world; in the past, present and future.

The 1960’s seemed to be a pivotal point for the Museum in beginning to use open displays and embrace a historical narrative. Displays and exhibitions have now evolved to reflect the latest scientific knowledge; for example the Diplodocus tail in the Main Hall was lifted from its floor position in 1998 when it was discovered by scientists that this would have been more true to life.

Acknowledging the need to be market driven, Louise explained that the Museum have developed aims to drive consistency and academic thinking in terms of programming of exhibitions. She emphasised that the Museum is still used as an active research institution for scientists and it’s vital that they look at new ways to share the scientific work happening there with their audiences.

 

DEVELOPING PARTNERSHIPS WITH TECHNICAL PROVIDERS

Since 2009, Louise has been working with her team on developing high tech and interactive ways to showcase the content housed in the Museum’s modern Darwin Centre extension, featuring etymology, botany and insect specimens. The digital demands of visitors meant working with technology partners to provide them with a more interactive experience.

Louise described some of the recent technology that had been used which includes a card system to help visitors access materials at home, digital screens used to maximise the experience for guests in smaller spaces, the introduction of a bespoke digital wall with changing content, an interactive table for scanning specimens and augmented reality films to enable visitors to interact virtually with dinosaurs and early man.

Though acknowledging the importance of using new technologies to improve the visitor experience, Louise explained that ensuring these things remain relevant over time was both labour and resource intensive. To overcome such challenges, the Museum has begun to look outside to collaborate with innovative and trusted technical partners that can help the Museum provide richer experiences and bring their content to life in a scalable way.

 

THE DIGITAL FUTURE FOR NATURAL HISTORY MUSEUM

Acknowledging the need to move away from creating bespoke digital content, the focus now lies in a requirement to be able to quickly and easily adapt content to reach ever-changing visitor expectations. Louise explained they are currently working with a consultancy on putting together a digital strategy. This could potentially cover things such as ‘bring your own device’, mobile apps, a contributory website and enhanced social media engagement. Louise emphasised the Museum’s shift in approach from digital being an add-on, to an underlying part of their culture and visitor experience.

 

THRESHOLD ENTERTAINMENT, BRAND PARTNERSHIPS AND IMMERSIVE 4D EXPERIENCES

CEO of Threshold Entertainment Group, Larry Kasanoff, told the audience that we were on the verge of an entertainment revolution.

Threshold make live action feature films and produce the IP for multiple platforms, an example of which is the Mortal Kombat IP which has included two films, a TV series and live stage show with the franchise grossing $5 billion.

Larry explained how Threshold are currently working in partnership with some international brands such as UFC, Playboy and Marvel, along with a dome company, to produce fully immersive 4D experiences, enabling people to live and breathe their favourite brands and get involved in their stories.

He discussed how many film companies have been producing 3D films that are not suited or adapted for the story they are telling, meaning the experience can become disconnected.

Responding to a question about the masculine nature of the brands they were working with, Larry explained that this is not necessarily the case, with Playboy having a large number of female followers, but that the key to the brand partnerships are ensuring they’re working with strong brands with aspirational stories that people want to be part of.

 

CONTENT FOR THE VISITOR ATTRACTIONS INDUSTRY: KEY TAKE-OUTS

The future for developing content for the visitor attractions industry, according to the presenters, seemed to lie in creating and consolidating differentiation, understanding the audience, exploring innovative new ways to deliver content for the changing digital consumer, building brand partnerships and most importantly of all, the power of storytelling to bring brands to life.

Images copyright of Picsolve.

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Dawn
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Dawn is Co-Founder and CEO at Katapult. She leads the team in delivering immersive themed attractions and experiences around the world.