Four Guidelines for Visitor Information Centers
Does your community sport a fancy visitor information center? Are you thinking about remodeling, revamping, or rebuilding yours? Here are four things to consider before you spend big resources on your visitor information center.
1. With the abundance of cell phones, smart phones, tablets, and mobile computing, visitor centers are becoming less relevant. People can do so much of their planning and research online and stay connected even when they’re away from home. There is less of a need for a physical building with staff for people to get information; it is all at the tip of their fingers wherever they are.
2. Add up all the costs of your VIC, including staffing, insurance, taxes, rent, Internet access, utilities, supplies, everything. Then divide by the number of visitors that use the center. In many cases, about half the people using the VIC are locals using it to get information about other areas. Eliminate this group and then calculate your cost per visitor. Chances are pretty good that the cost far outweighs the benefit.
3. However, there is still a need for visitor information services! There are other ways to keep information available and easy to access for visitors, while freeing up funds and resources for other things. Visitor information can be available in a retail store or in kiosks. Check out the portable, seasonal kiosks used in Banff – they can use these during the summer and store them in the winter.
4. Definitely utilize visitor information kiosks, whether permanent or seasonal. These can include brochure distribution and QR codes. These should be in various locations, and ALWAYS in the heart of the spending district(s).
Bottom line? Invest your money where you will get the most return on that investment. In most cases, that will be in product development, rather than visitor information centers. Make your community stand out and deliver on the promise of your brand – that will do more to encourage visitors and spending than any visitor information center could.