Monday, June 18, 2018

The Guest Experience Matters... ...All the Way to the Bottom Line!


More information on Seth Foster can be found here.

Thinking about the Guest Experience for large-scale property design is an alien concept for most developers. Whether these projects are resorts, mixed-use developments or urban planned communities, they each pose their own unique challenges in creating an ideal experience for all patrons. It isn’t easy to think “outside the box” and grasp the value of ITEC Entertainment’s approach to a project, which focuses on developing a storyline and narrative for a property that resonates with a guest emotionally.  However, more developers around the world are beginning to recognize that a great experience can mean even greater returns.

Humans are a storytelling species, and we often connect with storytelling on a subconscious level. When a story feels right, even if one is ‘suspending disbelief,’ that connection can form an emotional bond which translates into higher revenue for projects, as well as more frequent visitation and incredible social media interaction with potential global impact.

To understand the importance of story and how it impacts the value people place on experiences, consider these two examples:

  Celebration, Florida: A planned community by Disney that was literally constructed from nothing, to create an American hometown that truly only existed in the imagination.  Opening sales were oversubscribed, visitors had hours-long traffic to contend with when it first was opened to the public and prices were (and still remain) at a premium over comparable homes in the area.
   Disney’s “Pirates of the Caribbean”: This classic attraction is beloved by many for over 50 years and counting. Yet, virtually no one that has ridden it knows the story being told (prior to the recent movie tie-in revisions).  We just “get it”.  On an instinctive or subconscious level, each scene and vignette works in service of the story, even though guests don’t specifically know why.   This is a direct result of the purposeful development of a detailed, layered, and broadly-appealing story enhanced by a flawless execution.  As a result, guests are enthralled and develop an emotional attachment with the ride experience - and by extension with Disney as a whole. 
Imagine the potential of a resort, a mixed-use development, or even a city that’s developed around a fully-realized story and theme that just “feels right”.  The opportunity then exists to integrate design in the architecture, environment, and the entire organization of a site, to seamlessly support this narrative.  Developers could construct amenities or activities in a resort that “work together perfectly for some reason” because the story underpinning the project allows for them to form a unique connection between the project and the guest. This makes the Guest Experience more meaningful, less repeatable by competitors, and therefore more valuable.

That reality isn’t far off.  ITEC Entertainment is currently working on several projects in Asia, Latin America and North America where developers recognize the value of incorporating a memorable Guest Experience into the core DNA of their projects.  By building the project around the story, we can create something fundamentally unique and much less vulnerable to competition.  Enhancing the value of a guest’s experience translates into loyalty, a perception of increased value, and a marketable differentiator that can further expose the project to millions of people through online and social media.

Invest in the Guest Experience and create that emotional bond.  It will resonate with customers like dropping a pebble in a pond, radiating out beyond the limits of the specific visitors, beyond the time they are at the site, and develop a valuable brand identity with incredible potential to enhance the bottom line.

Friday, June 1, 2018

A Young Designer's Guide to Design Principles & Translating Them to Scene Attraction Design

More information on Bradley Caruk can be found here.

Design principles such as pattern, rhythm and movement are often taught in U.S. schools. Within the field of design, the correct number of principles, whether it be 6, 8, or 12, is often debated. Regardless, many young show designers in the industry today fail to see the parallels used in the real world of designing scenes within attractions.

Take, for example, the concepts of “Proportion” and “Large versus Small.” These principles refer to the visual weight, size, and prominence of various elements within a composition or frame of reference, as well as how they work off of and/or relate to one another. When telling a story without using words and by visually utilizing these principles, it often helps to have a specific order of elements that are revealed to the guest that enhances his or her experience.

Concept Art by Alex Seifert, ITEC Entertainment
By grouping related elements, aspiring designers can best assign them importance, even ones smaller in size or of less significance. Imagine a swarm of tiny beetles purposefully meant to flood guests’ RV through projection mapping. The swarm would disrupt the guests' expectations within a climactic scene of a dark ride. Then, one huge element would follow the tiny beetles, such as a gigantic beast reaching out to grab the guests' vehicles. The contrast between the two elements is significant to the entire experience in a visual, experiential and storytelling point of view.

If all the elements of your scene design are well-sized and thoughtfully-placed, the guest’s overall experience will be greatly enhanced. That is just a first step in the right direction. Of course, there are so many other elements to consider for this process that I could write a book about it, and that is not even including sound, lighting, atmospherics, smell, music, and so on. However, once a show designer masters the principles of design and applies them to real world design by building relationships, their process of composing a scene becomes more intuitive and will elevate the memorable moments of the experience.

At ITEC Entertainment, much of our project development for scene attractions is to bring a story to life using these principles and ensure that every guest receives the same enthralling experience. In addition, we have also honed the ability to perfectly orchestrate motion with object sizing and other sensory components, including audio/visual, that is necessary to create a unified guest experience requiring repetition every few seconds or minutes. Transferring abstract concepts into something that is both calculated on the back-end and natural for the audience is at the core of great scene design, and what we've delivered for almost 30 years. By starting with a strong foundation and understanding of design principles, young designers can find their way too.