That was the question posed by Tony Sefton, the founder of Vision XS, visitor experience specialists, at the 6th Annual Operators’ Conference at Keble College Oxford on 7th July.
Over 180 attraction operators joined industry legends, Bob Rogers, Founder and Chairman of BRC Imagination Arts and John Holland, the former General Manager of Animal Kingdom and Magic Kingdom Walt Disney World.
James Berresford, CEO of VisitEngland opened the conference emphasising the importance of tourism and destination management. James firmly believes in the opportunities available to increase inbound and domestic tourism after a decade of investment, product development, and the variety and wealth of attractions on offer. After all, James stated, “you can’t offshore tourism, it has to be done here, and that contributes to the economy and that means jobs”. He urged the audience to drive up the quality of the visitor experience and to focus on clever and collective marketing.
Bob Rogers of BRC Imagination Arts really brought the conference to life and wowed delegates with ‘Stories that create value’. He reinforced the need to know yourself, to look into the hearts of your audience and to be original. Looking at the success of Disney, and their founding principles, Bob truly believes that love, hope, reassurance and strength must be at the heart of what attraction operators say and do. He left delegates inspired and asked them to be certain of the story of their attraction in the hearts’ and minds’ of their guests.
With over 37 years of Disney experience, 20 years as a senior manager and 9 years as an executive, John Holland captured the audience as he shared how he empowered his cast at Disney to create surprises and magical moments. John’s powerful message focused on leadership, through attitude, belief, focus and perseverance. After learning that John had welcomed over 85 million visitors to Disney, it was refreshing to hear from John that “We are all responsible for what we do, and it’s the extra 1% that makes all the difference. An extra 1% can take you from good to great”.
In true Vision XS style, Tony Sefton provided some quirky and lively antics for the ‘Visitor Experience Obsessives’. After having reviewed the visitor experience of over 120 attractions world-wide, Tony showed delegates how to plot the ups and downs, points of staff interaction and the sugar buzzes in the visitor experience. After much hilarity Tony summed up with these wise words, “You need to know what your visitors expect before they arrive, manage their expectations and ensure you can deliver. Create a visitor experience charter and make sure it’s shared and owned by marketing and operations alike.”
A great day was rounded off with lots of networking, a magnificent College Feast in the Great Hall and for those still standing duelling pianos entertained until the early hours.
Vision XS is an innovative leisure consultancy, specialised in assisting visitor attractions, leisure operators and destinations add value through a unique model-driven consultancy.
Established in 1996 by Tony Sefton, Vision XS is a team of visitor experience specialists who work with attractions, leisure operators and destinations to help them provide the best visitor experience possible with scientific data and proven techniques.
Tony first developed Vision XS’s unique model, X-Mod over 16 years ago. To-date it has been applied and is operational in 18 different countries by over 120 attractions and leisure facilities. X-Mod is a diagnostic tool with the world’s largest experiential database, which continues to be developed by an experienced team of psychologists, mathematicians and highly skilled leisure operators.
Vision XS has worked with some of the biggest visitor attractions and leisure destinations in the world, including Hannover Zoo (Germany), Warwick Castle (UK), Universal Studios (Dubai), Dubailand (UAE), Legoland (Germany), Woburn Safari Park (UK), American Museum of Natural History (USA) and Gold Reef City (South Africa).