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Vision XS hails another successful Experience Conference


The annual Vision XS Experience Conference held in early July has been hailed another success by the company after delegates, speakers and exhibitors gave the event a hugely positive reaction.

Aimed at owners and operators of all types of visitor attraction from theme parks and farm parks to museums and heritage centres, the 2008 conference attracted over 100 delegates from venues around the UK who came to listen to a variety of speakers discussing a wide range of subjects and attraction industry issues.

Sponsored by RH Architects, OmniTicket Network and HB Leisure, the conference opened with a keynote address from Ahmed Tajedeen, Marketing Director of Tatweer Leisure Entertainment, the internal arm of Dubai Holding responsible for steering the local economy of Dubai City across various sectors, including leisure and entertainment projects that incorporate Dubailand, the world’s most ambitious tourism destination built on 3 billion sq. ft. of land.

Mr. Tajedeen gave an overview of Dubai and its development in recent years, as well as a look at some of the mammoth projects taking place along the beachfront, before moving on to Dubailand itself. He outlined the many well-known names within the theme park and entertainment industry who are set to bring their world renowned brand and intellectual properties to Dubailand, including Universal Studios, Paramount, Warner Bros., Busch Entertainment Corp. and Marvel Comics, to mention a few, while also discussing the area’s expectations of future visitor numbers and how these will be achieved.

A session entitled “Operator Magic” followed, speakers taking part included Chris Webster, CE of Woburn Safari Park, Angela Wright, MBE, MD of Crealy Great Adventure Parks, and Marilyn Scott, CEO of The Lightbox Museum. Each presented a case study on their individual attractions, concentrating on the importance of providing the best visitor experience possible and how this is achieved at their venues.

Senior members of the Vision XS team – Martin Barratt, Mark Abberley and Mark Golding – then oversaw all delegates taking part in a real live Vision XS results day, which involved analysing the financial and experience performance of a UK attraction. The session provided delegates with an insight into the company’s unique X-Mod attraction modelling product and how it can help operators in every aspect of their business, such as pricing, dwell time, catering and 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, ” which took the form of a popular TV quiz show, couples chosen from the audience answering the questions, this being followed by a session entitled “On the Spot – the buying Experience.” Hosted by Innovative Leisure’s Phil Pickersgill, participants here included Lizzy Cox (Natural History Museum), Tim Batstone (HB Leisure), Edward Pawley (Drayton Manor Theme Park) and Phil McCandlish (Pleasure Beach, Blackpool/Stageworks). Participants were asked quick fire questions on a range of attraction elements, including buying a temporary exhibition, a midway game, an amusement ride and a live show, providing delegates with a unique insight into these areas of operation.

Vision CEO Tony Sefton then provided a look at future trends that will drive the attractions industry over the coming years, while to close the main conference programme, Ray Hole, Ray Hole Architects, and Bart Dohmen, BRC Imagination Arts, discussed the boundaries between the built and non built environments with a view to finding the long lost guidelines that provide harmony between capex, business plan, functionality and visitor experience.

In addition to the main conference, fringe workshops included sessions on linking experience quality and quantity to success and the modelling of whole tourist destinations, while the day was followed in the evening with a dinner and party at Somerville College in the centre of Oxford.

“I found the overall balance and content of the day to be very interesting and informative, ” noted Gerrard Baldwin, general manager of Cadbury World. “The opportunity to hear from Tony Sefton about the most important factors in leisure was particularly thought provoking and I also found it beneficial to hear how other operators dealt with issues such as staff motivation and delivering quality service. The day also gave the opportunity to network with other leisure operators and suppliers which is always worthwhile.”
“The opportunity to have the leading lights of the tourism industry sharing ideas was hugely helpful, ” commented Rick Turner from The Big Sheep. “It is key for us all in the UK to be helping one another – ensuring our ever improving attractions match the ever increasing expectations of the visitors. We operate in a global market and we need to know the thoughts, ideas and plans of our competitors around the world so that we can compete and thrive in the future. I made some great contacts and will be spending time working with a number to improve our operations over the coming months.”
In addition to the principal sponsors, further support for the 2008 conference came from Event Communications, Simworx, Innovative Leisure and Davies & Co. Chartered Surveyors.

“We were very happy with the response to this year’s conference, ” said Vision XS CEO Tony Sefton. “We were delighted to have Ahmed Tajedeen with us to provide the opening presentation of the day while the rest of the programme featured a great mix of presentations with some excellent speakers and session formats. We know from comments received that delegates got a lot out of their attendance and we are looking forward to building on the success of this year’s event in the future.”

For further information please contact Vision XS on +44 (0)1865 408323 or email


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