Leisure consulants host fourth event in Oxford
Now in its fourth year, the one-day “Experience Conference” staged this summer by consultants Vision XS was another well-received event.
Aimed at owners, operators and developers of all types of visitor attraction, from theme parks and farm parks to museums and heritage centres, the event attracted over 100 delegates from around the UK. Numbers this year were such that a change of venue was necessary, namely the Oxford Belfry hotel.
The conference opened with a keynote address from the marketing director for Dubailand, Ahmed (pictured above) The scale of this, the world’s most ambitious tourism destination, was an eye-opener for some in the room, particularly those used to running small attractions like farm parks and play centres.
A session entitled Operator Magic followed, comprising case studies from Chris Webster of Woburn Safari Park, Angela Wright from Crealy Great Adventure Parks and Marilyn Scott of The Lightbox Museum.
Senior members of the Vision XS team then conducted a live analysis of a UK attraction, providing delegates with an insight into the company’s “X-Mod” product and how it can benefit operators in every aspect of their business, including pricing, dwell time, retail revenues, visitor numbers, site layout and visitor flow.
The first session of the afternoon saw BALPPA chief executive Colin Dawson chair The Data Millionaire, a quiz using industry facts and figures, followed by a session entitled On the Spot – the buying Experience. Hosted by Innovative Phil Pickersgill of Innovative Leisure, participants from the Natural History Museum, HB Leisure, Drayton Manor and Blackpool Pleasure Beach were posed a series of quick fire questions about a range of activities.
The penultimate session came from Vision XS CEO Tony Sefton, outlining a number of future trends, chief among them the need for improved customer service at attractions. “In the UK we have gone into a service economy, but we don’t want to serve!” noted Tony. “Staff selection is the key.”
Bringing the conference to a close, Ray Hole of Ray Hole Architects and Bart Dohmen from BRC Imagination Arts discussed the boundaries between built and non-built environments. In addition to the main programme, a number of fringe workshops were held, as well as an enjoyable evening’s dinner at Somerville College in Oxford.
“I found the overall balance and content of the day to be very interesting and informative,” remarked one attendee, Gerrard Baldwin of Cadbury World in Birmingham. “I also found it beneficial to hear how other operators dealt with issues such as staff motivation and delivering quality service.”
The one-day event took place on July 2.