Happy Places – How to Develop a Destination
What constitutes a „Happy Place“? And what does successful “destination profiling” look like? The first step in building a destination is to develop a comprehensive strategy. You can then start telling a story, based on your chosen theme, that will carry visitors along on a trip to and through the destination. These choreographed travels are sometimes called the “customer journey.” And when you successfully integrate your visitors into the story and make them part of it, that’s called “immersion.” As a rule, a more intense immersion makes for a more intense experience and a greater escapism effect. But if you’re thinking that a never-ending adrenaline rush equals a successful customer experience, you’re wrong. To keep your visitors from getting overwhelmed, you need the right balance of yin and yang, moments of tension and moments of release.
That calls for a sensitively curated mix of entertainment and edutainment, quiet zones and decompression, time to be active and time to just hang out. After all, one of your ultimate goals is to increase the time your visitors spend at the destination, and to optimize that time both qualitatively and quantitatively. Dining options, events, services, retail, interactive elements, even landmarks, high-tech signage and designated photo spots all contribute here. The design of the destination, together with a well-curated, aesthetically appealing portfolio of products and other offerings, plays a not insignificant role in determining the quality of time spent and, in the end, revenue generated. And it’s easy to gauge the effectiveness of a design these days: If it’s a “grammable” experience, then people will post photos and selfies on Instagram and other social media.
That’s another reminder that no destination can afford to overlook connections to the digital world today: If you want to make sure your visitors become repeat customers, and avoid the kind of atypical consumer perceptions that can cut an adventure short, you’ve got to set the stage for the real experience online – and keep it alive offline afterward. In short: Destination profiling creates “Happy Places”.