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What we learnt at BALPPA Summer Conference 2019

A week of sunshine greeted us in Portsmouth for the BALPPA Summer Conference 2019. Along with 80 other BALPPA members, we experienced the best attractions in the area, including Paultons Park, National Motor Museum, Portsmouth Dockyard and the Spinnaker Tower.

With our focus on great guest experience, here are a few things we learnt while visiting these attractions…

Immerse guests even if the park isn’t open

2020 will see Paultons Park open their new area called, Tornado Springs. The American-inspired area was boarded up and not open to the public, but that didn’t stop the Paultons Park team from being immersive. Fully branded information boards and even fictional radio adverts were used to inform, build excitement and drive social engagement.

Open more museums at night

The Conference Gala Dinner was held at Beaulieu Motor Museum, among rare, historic and culturally significant vehicles. While the actual Gala Dinner was nice, nothing beats walking around a museum, listening to a live jazz band, while drinking a glass of Pimms. A completely different museum experience.

IPs can sometimes miss the mark

Horrible Histories were present in the Portsmouth Historic Dockyards with their Pirate exhibition for kids, it was just a shame that there were no kids present in the experience itself. The experience was a little static, lacked a clear narrative and was heavy in information – good for adults, maybe not so for children. A great IP and idea, the actual experience needs a little tweaking.

Give guests a value-added experience

The Emirates Spinnaker Tower was the perfect place to see the views of a sunny seaside Portsmouth. While the basic experience of the viewing tower was good, guests are prompted regularly to spend more money. Shop, cafe, virtual reality experience, abseiling experience, coin press machine, photo opportunity experience, a second cafe… while all of these added value to the experience, some guests may feel bombarded by spending money on these in such a short space of time.

Passion is better than information

Probably the best museum I’ve ever been to is the Mary Rose Exhibition in the Portsmouth Historic Dockyards. The 16th-century ship and whole museum experience were showcased to us by a tour guide with something better than information – he had passion. His storytelling and personal connection to the museum shone through – a sign of just how important front line staff can be at an attraction.

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