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© MyTravelResearch.com® 2014
Client:
Prepared by:
Date:
Best practice in Visitor Information Centres (VICs)
TTRA International Conference
Carolyn Childs
June 2016
Page 2
Outline
1 The challenge
2 The process
3 The building blocks: critical success factors for VICs overall
4 Critical success factors for Mobiles and Pop Ups
5 The solution and learnings
Page 3
The challenge
• Based on projects we did for 2 Local Government Areas (LGAs) in Australia
(similar to counties)
Source: Eurobodalla VIC Service Review Report
Challenge 1:
Between 5-14% of
Eurobodalla’s visitors use the
VIC
A poor ROI on the two thirds
of council budget required to
service them
Opportunity cost of investing
in digital which is growing
Challenge 2:
An LGA facing cost pressures
and under-utilised assets
wishes to co-locate its
Entertainment Centre box
office and main VIC
Currently only 5% of visitors
use any of the VICs
Set against the background
of a major state government
funding review
Page 4
The process
Project 1 Project 2
Desk Research ✔ ✔
Customer/stakeholder survey ✔
Expert consultation ✔
Staff workshops ✔
Immersion ✔
Industry workshops ✔
Some key facts
• 1,200+ pages of evidence reviewed from around the
world – including both qualitative and quantitative
• Looked beyond VICs to Retail, Financial Services,
Government, Aviation
• Input from TTRA LISTSERV – Thank you!!
Everyone was encouraged
to participate – with
flexibility on how
Page 5
5 critical success factors for a VIC
Location
Stakeholder
Mix
ExperienceBranding
Integration
Page 6
More on the success factors
Location
Fish where
the fish are
A destination
in its own
right
Strong retail
offer
Absence of
digital
alternatives
Don’t think
this means you
shouldn’t do
wifi
Page 7
More on the success factors
Stakeholder
Mix
Supportive
locals
Supportive
industry
Visitor Profile
Match of
opening
hours to
visitor mix
Quoted in the WA
Haeberlin study
Page 8
More on the success factors
Quality of
experience
“Stories you
can’t get
anywhere
else”
The
Bestpertise
Multi-modal
and flexible
Get the
basics right
Somewhere
you want to
be
(destination)
Page 9
Getting the basics right
Source: Roger Brooks International
“We got so fed up of people only
popping in to use the toilet that we
put the information we wanted them
to see in the restrooms. It works”
Tracey Overgard, Calgary in
conversation on VICs
Page 10
More on the success factors
Branding &
Integration
Know what
it is
What i am
i?
Warm and
welcoming
language
Consistent
branding at
all
touchpoints
The
touchpoints
work
together
Beyond
jurisdictions
Page 11
Key takeouts on overall success factors
• Users of VICs continue to spend more
• Know correlation, but no evidence of causation 
means risk to close
• Evidence you can reach new audiences
Evidence of value,
no evidence to
support losing
• No one size fits all and the precise solution you
adopt is particular to your circumstances
• Need to take time to consider all the details – be
granular
Although the
principles are
common, you’re
unique
• We used the model developed by Haeberlin
Consulting for Western Australia
Identified the very
specific one which
met clients needs
Page 12
East of England did an examination of different
models.
Is it the case
that “All
happy VICs
are happy in
the same
way, but
unhappy ones
are unhappy
in different
ways”?
Need to follow the rules but
reflect them through our own
circumstances
Service diversification e.g. Co-
locate with disability services
Opening up more of a VICs historic
house location to visitors
increased footfall, created new
product opportunities and enabled
better staff utilisation on fun stuff
(ghost tours)
Downsizing within property and
subletting reduced overheads and
created a revenue stream to use
the small space more innovatively
Close existing visitor centre and
relocating to an iconic attraction (a
racing circuit) improved the
efficiency of its asset utilisation
and provided visitors a reason to
detour
Outsourcing to another tourism
body to run the service reduces
overheads and creates an incentive
to drive up revenues – but only
over time
Page 13
Most people continue to do a mix of offline and online – North
Carolina, US is well recognised and has an imaginative mix
http://partners.visitnc.com/partner-opportunities/visitor-services.html
Warm and
friendly
wording
Work with
other
agencies
for greater
benefit
Tell stories
Build
commitment
to the Visitor
Economy
Page 14
Case studies of new models in action
Wollongong’s Mobile Visitor
Centre reaches out to a new
audience
Melton reoriented its visitor
strategy to co-location and pop
ups – saving money and
reaching more people
Sources: Wollongong Tourism
Tenille Bradley, Visitor Servicing presentation, ARTN 2014
Page 15
Case studies of new models in action
Minstead, Hampshire (UK) enables a small
village to have a VIC by outsourcing to a
combined post office and tea rooms
Footfall is further driven by participation in the
Community Toilet scheme and a water top up
point – in our view a genius idea for driving
footfall
Page 16
We looked at experiments in bold new ways to engage and inform customers –
the bar is lifting all the time.
http://www.futuretravelexperien
ce.com/passenger-services-and-
wayfinding/page/3/
Page 17
We looked carefully at the specifics
Page 18
We looked at what sort of model we should be moving to
Source : Future of Visitor Centres in WA – Full Report, Haeberlin Consulting 2014
Destination NSW
Page 19
Our proposed solution – an ecosystem to attract,
engage and inform visitors
Council provides Council enables
Visitor
Contact
Centre
1800 Phone
numberLive Chat
Ideally these would operate after 5pm at least Thu-Sat
perhaps via use of volunteer staff
Training &
accreditation
support
Product racking,
wifi and digital
access at Moruya
Library
Outsourced Visitor
Engagement Centre New
Batemans Bay site
Outsourced Visitor
Engagement Centre
Current Narooma
Digital
Engagement
and contact
centre
Mobile
web
Main
website
Social
media
White label
booking
service
Performance metrics to amend and improve
Mobile or pop up VIC
Note dotted lines
denote options
If budgets do not permit council to
do both can opt for EITHER mobile
option OR the outsourced centres.
But it MUST offer one of them
Page 20
The ideal co-located centre – the staff perspective
Should evoke a sense of
place
Appeal to ALL the senses
Instant acknowledgement
and clear wayfinding (both
before and inside)
Supports staff in being
EXPERTS: facilities, systems
and other services
Extra facilities like ATMS,
phone chargers to
encourage footfall
Mix of materials both
paper and digital including
WIFI
Somewhere I feel proud
and happy to work
Clear and uncluttered/easy
to find things when I need
them
Things to sell – bookable
content, tours
Link front office and back
All the basics taken care of
– toilets, parking etc
Ability to grow the
experience over time (not
necessarily physical space)
There is a strong overlap between these and the success factors noted earlier
Page 21
We also looked at other evidence for good co-
location practices – to build a checklist of success
factors for VICs (1) Key takeouts:
• Needs:
– Have we understood the needs of our different target
audiences (VIC and Box Office)? Do we have a plan to satisfy
these?
• Branding and Recognition:
– How will our two separate audiences recognise the new
service?
– What cues like uniforms/titles will there be?
• Roles and responsibilities?
– Is it clear who is leading what elements?
– Who is the lead agency for set up?
– Who is the lead agency for on-going management? Who will
staff report to?
– Will roles and responsibilities be managed jointly? Do we have
clear job descriptions for this?
– Whose job is it to promote?
– Do staff work together or alongside one another?
– Who is responsible for engagement and promotion?
– Who owns success or failure?
We found this guide had lots
of great tips – despite being
about co-location of local
services
Page 22
We also looked at other evidence for good co-
location practices – to build a checklist of success
factors for VICs (2) Key takeouts:
• Engagement and Promotion:
– What steps are being taken to engage key stakeholders and local
customers (VFR Hosts and Entertainment Centre visitors)?
– What is being done to drive footfall (e.g. Signposting, promotion of the
centre)?
• Funding and financing:
– Who owns this?
– How are costs and revenues allocated between the parties?
– What are start up costs? [Not to be underestimated]
• Operations, Logistics and Practicalities:
– Have we managed transport access? (in our case parking)
– Have we planned for the different opening hours services may need?
– How have we managed OH&S issues?
– Are we confident are changes meet planning regulations?
– What are legal arrangements e.g. Tenancies, ownership etc.,?
• Future-proofing
– What flexibility is built into the design to change or adapt?
– What flexibility is built into staff roles and responsibilities?
– What flexibility is built into management structures?
• Other
– How will success be monitored?
– Are we managing the set up and operational phases separately?
We found this guide had lots
of great tips – despite being
about co-location of local
services
Page 23
Critical success factors for Mobiles and Pop Ups
Great design
•Shouldn’t just be a
mobile brochure rack
– should catch the
eye/be different
•Ensure the design is
‘on brand’
Give reasons to
visit
•Must provide new
news (again not just a
brochure rack)
•Perception may be
that people at events
already know – so tell
them hidden secrets
•Co-locate it with
something like a
coffee stand or
merchandising
Staff engagement
•Management need to
believe in the
concept to provide
leadership
•Staff must also
believe in it – be
motivated to make it
a success. Change
management may be
important
•Staff can’t just stand
there – need to
engage. Think abut
which staff to use
Location
•As with any VIC
choice of location is
vital.
•Events and markets
are popular
•But also places
people naturally go.
Often visitors may
just go to the beach –
so a mobile or pop
up close to lunch or
ice creams could be
an opportunity to
upsell them
•Don’t just think
about being part of it
– think where in the
venue is best
Page 24
My other learning
Start by asking the right question...
Not
‘Do we need a visitor centre or not?’
BUT
What is the best way to maximise the benefits to our
community AND visitors from tourism with the
resources we have?
Page 25
Disclaimer: Please note that the information and data contained in this proposal has been prepared for the specific
purpose of addressing the items for the proposed research between MyTravelResearch.com Pty Ltd and
Participants in the TTRA International Conference 2016.
It may not be suitable for other applications. The use of this data for any other purpose should be discussed with the
lead author. MyTravelResearch.com accepts no responsibility for unauthorised use of this data by a third party.
© MyTravelResearch.com® 2016
E carolyn@mytravelresearch.com
M + 61 416 213962
W www.mytravelresearch.com
+Carolyn Childs

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Best practice in Visitor Information Centres (VICs

  • 1. © MyTravelResearch.com® 2014 Client: Prepared by: Date: Best practice in Visitor Information Centres (VICs) TTRA International Conference Carolyn Childs June 2016
  • 2. Page 2 Outline 1 The challenge 2 The process 3 The building blocks: critical success factors for VICs overall 4 Critical success factors for Mobiles and Pop Ups 5 The solution and learnings
  • 3. Page 3 The challenge • Based on projects we did for 2 Local Government Areas (LGAs) in Australia (similar to counties) Source: Eurobodalla VIC Service Review Report Challenge 1: Between 5-14% of Eurobodalla’s visitors use the VIC A poor ROI on the two thirds of council budget required to service them Opportunity cost of investing in digital which is growing Challenge 2: An LGA facing cost pressures and under-utilised assets wishes to co-locate its Entertainment Centre box office and main VIC Currently only 5% of visitors use any of the VICs Set against the background of a major state government funding review
  • 4. Page 4 The process Project 1 Project 2 Desk Research ✔ ✔ Customer/stakeholder survey ✔ Expert consultation ✔ Staff workshops ✔ Immersion ✔ Industry workshops ✔ Some key facts • 1,200+ pages of evidence reviewed from around the world – including both qualitative and quantitative • Looked beyond VICs to Retail, Financial Services, Government, Aviation • Input from TTRA LISTSERV – Thank you!! Everyone was encouraged to participate – with flexibility on how
  • 5. Page 5 5 critical success factors for a VIC Location Stakeholder Mix ExperienceBranding Integration
  • 6. Page 6 More on the success factors Location Fish where the fish are A destination in its own right Strong retail offer Absence of digital alternatives Don’t think this means you shouldn’t do wifi
  • 7. Page 7 More on the success factors Stakeholder Mix Supportive locals Supportive industry Visitor Profile Match of opening hours to visitor mix Quoted in the WA Haeberlin study
  • 8. Page 8 More on the success factors Quality of experience “Stories you can’t get anywhere else” The Bestpertise Multi-modal and flexible Get the basics right Somewhere you want to be (destination)
  • 9. Page 9 Getting the basics right Source: Roger Brooks International “We got so fed up of people only popping in to use the toilet that we put the information we wanted them to see in the restrooms. It works” Tracey Overgard, Calgary in conversation on VICs
  • 10. Page 10 More on the success factors Branding & Integration Know what it is What i am i? Warm and welcoming language Consistent branding at all touchpoints The touchpoints work together Beyond jurisdictions
  • 11. Page 11 Key takeouts on overall success factors • Users of VICs continue to spend more • Know correlation, but no evidence of causation  means risk to close • Evidence you can reach new audiences Evidence of value, no evidence to support losing • No one size fits all and the precise solution you adopt is particular to your circumstances • Need to take time to consider all the details – be granular Although the principles are common, you’re unique • We used the model developed by Haeberlin Consulting for Western Australia Identified the very specific one which met clients needs
  • 12. Page 12 East of England did an examination of different models. Is it the case that “All happy VICs are happy in the same way, but unhappy ones are unhappy in different ways”? Need to follow the rules but reflect them through our own circumstances Service diversification e.g. Co- locate with disability services Opening up more of a VICs historic house location to visitors increased footfall, created new product opportunities and enabled better staff utilisation on fun stuff (ghost tours) Downsizing within property and subletting reduced overheads and created a revenue stream to use the small space more innovatively Close existing visitor centre and relocating to an iconic attraction (a racing circuit) improved the efficiency of its asset utilisation and provided visitors a reason to detour Outsourcing to another tourism body to run the service reduces overheads and creates an incentive to drive up revenues – but only over time
  • 13. Page 13 Most people continue to do a mix of offline and online – North Carolina, US is well recognised and has an imaginative mix http://partners.visitnc.com/partner-opportunities/visitor-services.html Warm and friendly wording Work with other agencies for greater benefit Tell stories Build commitment to the Visitor Economy
  • 14. Page 14 Case studies of new models in action Wollongong’s Mobile Visitor Centre reaches out to a new audience Melton reoriented its visitor strategy to co-location and pop ups – saving money and reaching more people Sources: Wollongong Tourism Tenille Bradley, Visitor Servicing presentation, ARTN 2014
  • 15. Page 15 Case studies of new models in action Minstead, Hampshire (UK) enables a small village to have a VIC by outsourcing to a combined post office and tea rooms Footfall is further driven by participation in the Community Toilet scheme and a water top up point – in our view a genius idea for driving footfall
  • 16. Page 16 We looked at experiments in bold new ways to engage and inform customers – the bar is lifting all the time. http://www.futuretravelexperien ce.com/passenger-services-and- wayfinding/page/3/
  • 17. Page 17 We looked carefully at the specifics
  • 18. Page 18 We looked at what sort of model we should be moving to Source : Future of Visitor Centres in WA – Full Report, Haeberlin Consulting 2014 Destination NSW
  • 19. Page 19 Our proposed solution – an ecosystem to attract, engage and inform visitors Council provides Council enables Visitor Contact Centre 1800 Phone numberLive Chat Ideally these would operate after 5pm at least Thu-Sat perhaps via use of volunteer staff Training & accreditation support Product racking, wifi and digital access at Moruya Library Outsourced Visitor Engagement Centre New Batemans Bay site Outsourced Visitor Engagement Centre Current Narooma Digital Engagement and contact centre Mobile web Main website Social media White label booking service Performance metrics to amend and improve Mobile or pop up VIC Note dotted lines denote options If budgets do not permit council to do both can opt for EITHER mobile option OR the outsourced centres. But it MUST offer one of them
  • 20. Page 20 The ideal co-located centre – the staff perspective Should evoke a sense of place Appeal to ALL the senses Instant acknowledgement and clear wayfinding (both before and inside) Supports staff in being EXPERTS: facilities, systems and other services Extra facilities like ATMS, phone chargers to encourage footfall Mix of materials both paper and digital including WIFI Somewhere I feel proud and happy to work Clear and uncluttered/easy to find things when I need them Things to sell – bookable content, tours Link front office and back All the basics taken care of – toilets, parking etc Ability to grow the experience over time (not necessarily physical space) There is a strong overlap between these and the success factors noted earlier
  • 21. Page 21 We also looked at other evidence for good co- location practices – to build a checklist of success factors for VICs (1) Key takeouts: • Needs: – Have we understood the needs of our different target audiences (VIC and Box Office)? Do we have a plan to satisfy these? • Branding and Recognition: – How will our two separate audiences recognise the new service? – What cues like uniforms/titles will there be? • Roles and responsibilities? – Is it clear who is leading what elements? – Who is the lead agency for set up? – Who is the lead agency for on-going management? Who will staff report to? – Will roles and responsibilities be managed jointly? Do we have clear job descriptions for this? – Whose job is it to promote? – Do staff work together or alongside one another? – Who is responsible for engagement and promotion? – Who owns success or failure? We found this guide had lots of great tips – despite being about co-location of local services
  • 22. Page 22 We also looked at other evidence for good co- location practices – to build a checklist of success factors for VICs (2) Key takeouts: • Engagement and Promotion: – What steps are being taken to engage key stakeholders and local customers (VFR Hosts and Entertainment Centre visitors)? – What is being done to drive footfall (e.g. Signposting, promotion of the centre)? • Funding and financing: – Who owns this? – How are costs and revenues allocated between the parties? – What are start up costs? [Not to be underestimated] • Operations, Logistics and Practicalities: – Have we managed transport access? (in our case parking) – Have we planned for the different opening hours services may need? – How have we managed OH&S issues? – Are we confident are changes meet planning regulations? – What are legal arrangements e.g. Tenancies, ownership etc.,? • Future-proofing – What flexibility is built into the design to change or adapt? – What flexibility is built into staff roles and responsibilities? – What flexibility is built into management structures? • Other – How will success be monitored? – Are we managing the set up and operational phases separately? We found this guide had lots of great tips – despite being about co-location of local services
  • 23. Page 23 Critical success factors for Mobiles and Pop Ups Great design •Shouldn’t just be a mobile brochure rack – should catch the eye/be different •Ensure the design is ‘on brand’ Give reasons to visit •Must provide new news (again not just a brochure rack) •Perception may be that people at events already know – so tell them hidden secrets •Co-locate it with something like a coffee stand or merchandising Staff engagement •Management need to believe in the concept to provide leadership •Staff must also believe in it – be motivated to make it a success. Change management may be important •Staff can’t just stand there – need to engage. Think abut which staff to use Location •As with any VIC choice of location is vital. •Events and markets are popular •But also places people naturally go. Often visitors may just go to the beach – so a mobile or pop up close to lunch or ice creams could be an opportunity to upsell them •Don’t just think about being part of it – think where in the venue is best
  • 24. Page 24 My other learning Start by asking the right question... Not ‘Do we need a visitor centre or not?’ BUT What is the best way to maximise the benefits to our community AND visitors from tourism with the resources we have?
  • 25. Page 25 Disclaimer: Please note that the information and data contained in this proposal has been prepared for the specific purpose of addressing the items for the proposed research between MyTravelResearch.com Pty Ltd and Participants in the TTRA International Conference 2016. It may not be suitable for other applications. The use of this data for any other purpose should be discussed with the lead author. MyTravelResearch.com accepts no responsibility for unauthorised use of this data by a third party. © MyTravelResearch.com® 2016 E carolyn@mytravelresearch.com M + 61 416 213962 W www.mytravelresearch.com +Carolyn Childs