Satisfaction by Design
Heritage interpretation and experience design for visitors satisfaction at the core of VIMOMA's third workshop, held in Serbia.
Just picture it for a second. You are aiming to have a weekend getaway by yourself or with your loved one or with your family — you name it. Nature is calling and your muscles are as eager for the exercise — after a week-long sit down in front of a computer — as your brain is for the endorphins. Where to go? Some googling here and there and you are torn between a couple of nearby-enough nature areas. The website of one of them has some protocolar photos and text; the website of the other one gives you an initial augmented reality (AR) immersion of the things you could see and explore if you opt for it. Care to pick?
Unlike the Rolling Stones' famous hit (I Can't Get No) Satisfaction, visiting natural protected areas should always bring fulfilment and, as such, a satisfying experience. Nevertheless, not all should be left to nature alone to achieve such an end goal: there is always work to be done by the managers and staff members taking care of the protected areas not only in terms of conservation but also regarding how any and all visitors can better profit from the experience. With that in mind, the Faculty of Sciences of the University of Novi Sad organised last 20-21 February 2023 the third workshop of the Experience design and nature conservation through VIsitor MOnitoring and MAnagement in protected areas (VIMOMA) project, funded by the International Visegrad Fund. Themed "Heritage interpretation and experience design for boosting visitors satisfaction," the 2-day workshop, held in Novi Sad, Serbia, was attended by personnel from national parks of Poland, Slovakia, Czech Republic, Hungary, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Serbia to grasp the basics of heritage interpretation, how to make better use of it through interpretative planning and implementation, how to structure and conduct interpretative guided tours, and how to adapt Information and Communications Technologies (ICT) to their protected areas tools and offer.
ICT mentioned, attendants were introduced to practical training on how to use it for 360º / Virtual Reality (VR) tours, including not only open-sourced software and apps and a walkthrough, but also a hands-on exercise as to how it works. Moreover, after an introduction on the theoretical background of heritage interpretation — its basics, principles and tools — participants were able to simulate preliminary interpretation planning for their protected areas in order to tackle aspects of them they consider worthy of upgrading or showcasing to visitors. Some thoughts and ideas to take back home, in other words.
Professors of the Department of Geography, Tourism and Hotel Management of the University of Novi Sad, Vladimir Marković and Đorđije Vasiljević, fully delivered the workshop on heritage interpretation and, during the second day, led the participants on a field excursion to the Fruška Gora National Park. Within a day-long, 12-kilometre hike through the park, informative presentations from the park representatives and their work on addressing heritage interpretation were a critical part of the programme.
And with the third workshop over, the fourth intervention of the project will take place in Budapest, Hungary, by April's end, focusing on the use of communications tools for experience design and visitor management, hashtags included, needless to say.