Bringing Properties to Life

Read how the National Trust connects its audiences with beautiful places.

Designing experiences that will connect audiences with places is at the heart of what the National Trust does. Since I joined the NT 7 years ago I think its fair to say we have developed a richer understanding of these audiences, their interests, motivations, drivers, and barriers.

There is still a huge amount we can still learn about our audiences, and about how other organisations and practitioners are developing their understanding in this field too. I hope I can share with you some of the tools and approaches we've developed. One tool in particular has really become part of our DNA: our segmentation model. This model is based on grouping visitors by their modes of visiting - by common interests, attitudes and motivations, and what people want and need from their leisure time, rather than by demographics. It is a model developed specifically for the National Trust to help us understand the 'days out' market, and for us has been incredibly useful. The model is based on 7 visitor groups:

Curious Minds: Active thinkers, always questioning and making connections between the things they learn. They have a wide range of interests and take positive steps to create a continual flow of intellectual stimuli in their lives.
Explorer Families: Families that actively learn together, the adults will get as much out of their experience as the children. To fit in the interests of all family members planning, sharing and negotiation are essential.
Home and Family: Broad groups of friends and family who gather together for special occasions. They seek passive enjoyment of an experience to suit all tastes and ages.
Kids First Families: Families who put the needs of the children first and look for a fun environment where children are stimulated and adults can relax; they’re looking for a guaranteed good time.
Out & Abouts: Spontaneous people who prefer chance encounters to making firm plans and love to share their experiences with friends
Live Life to the Full: Self-driven intellectuals, confident of their own preferences and opinions and highly independent in their planning and decision making; these people are always on the go.
Young Experience Seekers: People who are open to challenge, in a physical or horizon-broadening sense; they make and take opportunities in their journey of personal discovery.
We are still learning about others ways of understanding our audiences (e.g. what drives deeper emotional connection with our places, finding ways to react on a day to day basis to changing audiences). I'd love to hear how other people and organisations are grappling with all of these issues and what other approaches and models are out there. I hope we share some ideas, challenges and learning's in our discussions together.

Jess Monaghan, Visitor Experience Consultant (Bringing Properties to Life), South West Region

Jess will be joining the Heritage Sandbox projects at their next workshop to discuss how the 'modes of visiting' approach might help the teams understand their audiences.