What Cultural Attractions Can Learn From Three Companies that went Against the Grain: Guest Experience Edition

What Cultural Attractions Can Learn From Three Companies that Went Against the Grain

As the world gets more and more personalized for the individual consumer, cultural attraction spaces must continue to break the mold in order to meet the evolving expectations of guests. 

Historically, our industry has depended on an upcoming major exhibit to drive attendance and increase revenue. In today’s fast-moving world, however, the reality of these expensive projects may be challenged in the future. In order to continue to grow, cultural attractions must get creative with increasingly more innovative guest experiences. 

This doesn’t have to be a huge, scary undertaking, in fact, some very simple and effective methods can make a major difference in your guest’s experience. These brands are disrupting their unique industries to increase guest satisfaction and long-term loyalty. 

1. Fans first: How the Savannah Bananas Redefined Baseball as Usual
Image source: https://www.latimes.com/sports/story/2022-05-16/savannah-bananas-baseball-revolution-mlb-rules

Perhaps you’ve heard of the Savannah Bananas, an exhibition baseball team that’s turned baseball on its head with their fans-first approach to the game. Back in 2016, the Bananas were a failing organization that could barely fill their stands. When Jesse Cole purchased them, he used inspiration from the likes of Disney and Broadway, to rewrite baseball as usual. A gamble? Absolutely. But the play worked and today, there is nothing like a Savannah Bananas show which isn’t quite baseball as much as it is an immersive guest experience for the lucky fans in attendance. And we do mean lucky, the Bananas have a wait list that’s close to a million people long for a single game. By putting their fans first, the Savannah Bananas have gone from zero to hero and have sold-out seats to show for it. 

Here’s how cultural attractions can also apply a ‘fan-first’ policy to enhance their own guest experiences: 

  1. Seek feedback: Cultural attractions can prioritize the needs, desires, and satisfaction of their visitors. This can involve actively seeking feedback (either through surveys or at the end of exhibits), involving guests in the decision-making process, and tailoring experiences to meet their preferences.
  2. Make guests part of your attraction experience: Similar to the Savannah Bananas’ approach, cultural attractions can design exhibits and activities that encourage active participation and engagement from visitors. This can include interactive displays, hands-on workshops, or opportunities to interact with performers or artists.

Fostering a sense of community: The Savannah Bananas have created a strong fan community by actively engaging with their audience. Cultural attractions can do the same by organizing special events or exclusive access for their most loyal visitors.

2. Disrupting Hospitality: How Airbnb Democratized Travel
Image source: https://news.airbnb.com/about-us/

There’s no denying that Airbnb, a global online marketplace for accommodations, has revolutionized the hotel and hospitality industry. Airbnb challenged traditional hotel models by offering unique and personalized accommodations, allowing hosts to share their homes and providing a local experience for guests. In doing so they’ve democratized travel, opening up new opportunities for travelers to explore local communities, enhancing cultural immersion, and creating authentic experiences. They’ve also given more control to the individual host and guest by creating a two-way feedback system, enabling hosts and guests to build trust and contribute to the overall guest experience from everything from two-way reviews to dynamic pricing. 

Here’s how cultural attractions can take note of Airbnb’s innovation to offer unique and personalized experiences at their locations: 

  1. Democratizing the guest experience: Cultural attractions can adapt Airbnb’s approach by offering unique and personalized experiences tailored to individual guests based on their interests, such as behind-the-scenes tours, interactive exhibits, or exclusive access to collections. 
  2. Empowering guest digital communication: Cultural attractions can also create platforms or apps that facilitate communication between visitors and hosts, allowing for feedback, even more personalized recommendations, and deeper engagement. P-s-s-t: read more about how to incorporate a guest experience platform, like Attractions.io, into your cultural attraction here. 
3. Turning Entertainment on its Head: How Sphere Las Vegas is Changing Live Performances From the Inside Out
Las Vegas Sphere
Image source: https://www.rollingstone.com/music/music-features/the-sphere-las-vegas-u2-1234774720/

Sphere Las Vegas, is truly the first of its kind in entertainment. The Vegas strip, which already could be seen clearly from a plane window now has a whole new level of skyscraper potential with Sphere, standing at an astounding 366 feet tall and spanning 516 feet wide. But it’s not only the world’s largest spherical structure, it also boasts the world’s highest-resolution wraparound LED screen, while its exterior is adorned with a staggering 1.2 million LED lights,  making it also the world’s largest illuminated surface. 

So what does one do at the world’s brightest building? See the world’s best entertainment, of course. While the structure has not yet opened, it promises to change the way viewers experience music, film events, and sports by showcasing truly immersive experiences in cinema and performance. With everything from a 16K LED screen to haptic seats that can vibrate alongside the performance, visitors are in for a viewing experience like nothing they’ve ever seen before. 

Here’s how cultural attractions can take a larger-than-life approach to their own guest entertainment:

  1. Consider adding cutting-edge technology: Advanced technologies like augmented reality (AR) or virtual reality (VR) can enhance visitor experiences, providing interactive and immersive elements within cultural attractions. P-s-s-t: read more about how SSA utilize AR to drive interest and awareness of COSI’s King Tut exhibit here.
  2. Lean into seasonal visuals and experiences to enhance guest engagement: The Sphere’s ability to transform its exterior into various animations, such as turning into a giant pumpkin at Halloween or a snow globe at Christmas, adds an element of novelty to the venue. Cultural attractions can do the same by incorporating seasonal themes and experiences to keep visitors engaged all year round. For example, museums can host special exhibitions tied to specific holidays or cultural events, while parks can introduce themed light experiences or decorations during different seasons. Providing unique and ever-changing experiences encourages repeat visits and word-of-mouth recommendations.
Break the Mold of Business as Usual

In order to continue to grow, cultural attractions can make a variety of small but innovative changes in their guest experience to meet changing expectations long term. Interested in learning more about innovative trends? Stay tuned for our next innovation series as we look at food, retail and admissions and companies that are changing the game in these spaces!

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