Harbinger Consultants

Creative Sustainability :: Place, People, Product, Potential, Partnership + Pollinating

STUDY | Visitor Experience

Harbinger Consultants has been engaged to undertake a visitor experience study for Tambo. This work has provided opportunity and platform to explore new ways of thinking about experience and tourism, building on the town’s cultural, heritage and natural assets.

Experience is central to tourism. Visitor experience encompasses a broad range of elements. Some loose definitions of visitor experience are provided below:

Customers no longer want ‘just a trip’ but are looking for a memorable and quality-based experience. The future for tourism lies in providing those experiences in a way which meets the key needs of these customers

The tourism experience embraces a number of inter-related elements such as people and pace, place, facilities/services and accessibility.

The perceptions, feelings, and reactions a person has while visiting a [place]. Examples of visitor experiences include:
•    a sense of being immersed in a [place]
•    a feeling of being in an area where the sights and sounds of people and vehicles are predominant
•    having a sense of challenge and adventure
•    a perception of solitude and privacy.

The visitor experience can be comprised of or determined by:

  • Interactions with People
  • Product (broadly understood)
  • Sense of place
  • Perceptions, sensations
  • Market Position
  • Value for Money

Like customer or user experience, the intention of understanding visitor or tourist experience is to ensure that visitor expectations are met and that this will lead to either repeat or lengthened stays or stops. Because an experience is inherently personal and can engage or involve an individual at different levels namely, rational, emotional, sensorial, physical and also spiritual (Schmitt, 1999), expectations can often be subjective and difficult to gauge. Tourism Queensland’s formulation of audience segments provides some insight into the preferences of visitor types.

The framework developed for this project recognises that visitor experience is the result of many interactions and actions.

This framework positions Visitor Experience at the centre of:

  • Creative Placemaking – which involves “partners from public, private, non-profit, and community sectors strategically shape the physical and social character of a neighborhood, town, city, or region around arts and cultural activities. Creative placemaking animates public and private spaces, rejuvenates structures and streetscapes, improves local business viability and public safety, and brings diverse people together to celebrate, inspire, and be inspired.”
  • Destination Management – which is “a process of leading, influencing and coordinating the management of all the aspects of a destination that contribute to a visitor’s experience, taking account of the needs of visitors, local residents, businesses and the environment”. It aims to “manage and support the integration of different resources, activities and stakeholders through suitable policies and actions … Destination management represents a key strategy for both mature and emerging destinations, in order to satisfy an ever-demanding consumer, ensure sustainable development and positive impacts, and then gain, hold or win back a strong position on the global tourism market.”
  • Regional Economic Development – which refers to “the sustained, concerted actions of policymakers and communities that promote the standard of living and economic health of a specific area. Economic development can also be referred to as the quantitative and qualitative changes in the economy. Such actions can involve multiple areas including development of human capital, critical infrastructure, regional competitiveness, environmental sustainability, social inclusion, health, safety, literacy, and other initiatives.” Notably, it is important to recognise that development and growth are not commensurate: “growth means to get bigger, development means to get better – an increase in quality and diversity”.

The intention is to enhance visitor experience by building:

  • A sense of place and local identity
  • Sustainable and viable tourism and enterprise (local economy)
  • Vitality and engagement

These outcomes will be of benefit to the local community and to visitors alike. This framework, while useful for developing our study, does not replace destination management planning and development, and is intended to anchor any ongoing destination management efforts.

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