The growing importance of local heritage attractions.
Building a sense of place and community using an audience engagement platform
Heritage attractions are essential for maintaining both community identities and the personal welfare of individuals. In addition to playing a significant role in expanding the visitor economy, culture, and heritage tourism, it also provides other benefits.
Historic buildings; archaeological sites; local, or national parks; art galleries or museums; concerts, plays or musicals; and ethnic or ecological heritage sites rely on audiences, visitors, and participation. And it was these sectors that were heavily affected by the emergency measures to contain the Covid pandemic.
However, several heritage stakeholders who faced the challenges presented by the pandemic, have since turned them into opportunities. Museums and cultural organisations have seized the chance to re-engage with their audiences and reach out to new ones through creative and innovative digital solutions – such as implementing cutting edge attraction management software.
The pandemic crisis has also made it clear how necessary culture and cultural heritage are to people and communities across the world. At a time where hundreds of millions of people remained physically apart, cultural heritage appeared, more than ever, as a crucial instrument to bring people together. Now that the worst is over (hopefully), people are returning to heritage attractions around the world.
Digital environment can create novel approaches to deal with cultural heritage
Since the late 1990s, research and cultural practice have placed significant emphasis on the potential of the digital environment to produce novel approaches to dealing with heritage. At times, the emphasis has been on how the internet can provide a ‘shop window’ for the sector, and how this might be translated into physical visits to sites. Others have argued that the digital world might offer a dynamic setting for reciprocal engagement with historic culture, aiming to supplement in-person visits through a variety of phenomena.
In an article in the journal Heritage & Society, titled Experiencing the Digital World: The Cultural Value of Digital Engagement with Heritage, authors Laura King, James Stark and Paul Cooke, state that there is “substantial untapped potential to better understand the experience of end users, by harnessing the vast amount of data that is available within heritage institutions, but which organizations frequently do not have the resources to exploit.”
The development of new digital technologies presents opportunities to improve active, two-way interaction with heritage and ease access. Digital technologies give the heritage sector an array of new possibilities for the creative interpretation and presentation of heritage. However, it is important that the historical content and engagement is tailored to the needs and expectations of visitor groups.
Digital audience attraction tools can enhance individuals’ experience by:
- providing additional and more in-depth information and stimulating a process of discovering more
- opening up access to new areas, such as collections not on display, or to visitors with different needs, such as access needs or for international visitors that do not speak the language of the domestic setting
- encouraging input from visitors, and the possibility for dialogue with collections, exhibits, and curators; and
- encouraging a new type of close relationship with the history in question through greater interactivity, which in turn could lead to increased levels of engagement.
One significant issue is that, while giving museums the chance to interact with various populations, digital tools almost always encourage a more interactive and, consequently, active involvement with historical culture. The ability of digital to deliver a fundamentally different kind of experience and, as a result, new forms of interaction, is primarily due to its interactive and immersive capacity.
The real value of digital engagement for the visitor though, lies in a different type of encounter – it does not seek to replace the tangible aspects of material culture, but rather to add additional explanatory layers to the visitor experience.
The n-gage.io platform – transforming the heritage visitor experience
Making heritage sites even more engaging is software and visitor engagement app, n-gage.io, which is transforming the heritage visitor experience.
Heritage visitor attractions can engage audiences, enhance learning, diversify revenue, increase accessibility, build loyalty, as well as gain valuable insights into visitor behaviour.
Everything is housed in one place – on the audience experience app - and is updated in an instant when new information is at hand, input into the content platform behind the app, or even on the fly through the operator portal on the app on the operator’s mobile phone.
The n-gage.io audience engagement platform and app offer a potent digital asset management system, as well as essential insights into visitor behaviour for curators, marketers, and the guardians of these architectural treasures. Digital triggering, whether through mapping the unique signal of each smartphone in a specific area, or through Bluetooth-enabled beacon technology, can also make it easier to monitor dwell time, which in turn, gives important information about which aspects of the experience are more well-liked than others. This can then support curation efforts in the future.
It is also possible to segment the data that is gathered in real time through interactions from visitors with the app. This makes it easy to push out customised communications like emails, newsletters, and push notifications.
Relevant communication promotes the development of a devoted following
And relevant communication promotes the development of a devoted following. This keeps visitors informed, even after they have left, about special offers, upcoming events, new collections, and the like.
The n-gage.io platform is also able to offer digital booking arrangements and membership systems that help identify a member's presence - digitally.
The platform has some remarkable engagement features. From learning and education, to messaging about the preservation of heritage. By using prompts, notifications, and facts, all easily configured in the platform, a heritage site can attract visitors that are customised to appeal to certain audiences.
The platform can also help raise awareness around fundraising and donations, promoting community messaging to keep the heritage site front of mind with key audiences. The operator platform is optimised for mobile, tablet and desktop, providing cloud-based access to stimulate engagement anytime, and from anywhere.
Aids in learning and teaching
Created to help visitors on their journey of discovery, with the n-gage.io platform, cultural heritage sites can digitise collections or introduce a new exhibition and create innovative ways of discovery. Visitors using the app will be introduced to enriched multimedia content, be able to unearth new facts, and locate specific exhibits, using the in-built wayfinding tool, and learn more about them.
The n-gage.io platform aids in the learning and teaching processes in museums by providing specialised functionality to enhance educational visits and guided tours. For example, using the education module, lesson plans for school and educational visits can be created and managed.
n-gage-io is a feature-rich cloud-based operator platform helping museums and heritage sites to create engaging and interactive journeys of discovery, and without any technical skills required. Visitors using the app have access to dynamic digital media, including video and audio, to transform their experience and deepen learning both on and off-site, as well as a wealth of functionality to help streamline their visit, from digital ticketing to mapping and wayfinding.
In effect, the cutting edge of exploring digital possibilities in cultural heritage visitor attractions is now firmly in the realm of practice. - always remembering of course, that it should be physical first and digital second, when it comes to enhancing the visitor experience.
To discover more benefits and how n-gage.io can increase and sustain your audience engagement, get in touch or let us show you – book a demo today.