ALVA Director reveals his top 5 trends for visitor attractions in 2021

17 December 2020:

Top 5 trends in attractions in 2021:

1. The importance of the domestic market and, in particular the hyper-local market, people who live less than an hour's travel from the attraction. They will be your saviour. The international market will not return to the UK in significant numbers for a couple of years, so now is the time to particularly entice and invite your local audiences and families.

2. An explosion in the experience economy. This year people have realised that their most treasured memories have been experiencing things with loved ones and creating memories together. There's more of an emphasis on emotional value than monetary value now, just look at the huge popularity of BBC One's 'The Repair Shop'. Attractions are well-placed to capitalise on that.

3. The most popular gifts bought in attractions' online shops this year give a clue as to what people really value; jigsaws, board games, gardening equipment, garden seeds, books about local history, ancestry products, baking products and cocktail making equipment. People are finding joy in acquiring skills, in simple pleasures, in making and crafting and nurturing, and a little bit of indulgence. Attractions which offer workshops, hands-on experiences, teach yourself guides at site and online can really benefit from this.

4. The importance of standing on the spot. At times of change or austerity, political and economic uncertainty and flux, the future seems daunting and confusing, unpredictable and even scary. The past, in contrast, appears to be certain and definite, reassuring and comfortable. Visits to heritage and historic properties always increase at these times as people like to find out where they have come from and to feel a connection to the past. Attractions can enable this by telling the stories of their people, places and collections in compelling ways and encourage people to 'stand on the spot' where history happened.

5. The way in which the UK public kept up their memberships of their favourite attractions (even though they were not able to visit them for most of the year; the success of fundraising campaigns to support museums and zoos, gardens and cathedrals; the increase in volunteers at attractions; and the rush of the public to return to visit attractions when they were reopened shows how loved and important attractions are. Attractions are the backdrop for peoples happiest memories. Attractions can reciprocate this love and affection through special events, offers, members' days, 'behind the scenes' tours and exclusive experiences - allow your visitors to become part of the family, not just a visitor.

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