For many visitors to Hamburg, the Elbphilharmonie is often the main drawcard. Yet there are many other tourist attractions within easy walking distance. Miniatur Wunderland Hamburg, which displays the world’s largest model railway over almost 1,500 square metres has gained international recognition. The attraction in the historical Speicherstadt has swallowed EUR 21 million and taken 795,000 hours to build. Virtually next door is the Hamburg Dungeon; a trip through 600 years of Hamburg’s history with shows and rides presented by actors. Dialogue in the Dark (Dialog im Dunkeln) is 900 metres further along – an exhibition in complete darkness aimed at sharpening the senses. Then there are a number of other museums, including the Speicherstadt Museum, the Prototype Car Museum and the German Customs Museum.
Interactive, multimedia edutainment concepts
New worlds of perception are constantly being added. Last year, the Mystery Theater Opolum, in which the spectators become part of the production, and this year the Discovery Dock, which makes use of virtual reality elements, opened in Speicherstadt. Fairy Tale Worlds is to launch in Hafencity in September to entertain and inform using an interactive, multimedia edutainment concept. Exhibitions of this sort are very much in fashion. Visitors increasingly expect an individual experience, in which they take an active part or are even able to immerss themselves in a new world, Stephanie Schaub, 34, believes. The manager of Wissenswelten Management GmbH, knows what she is talking about, having dreamed up and created experiential worlds of all kinds and tracked trends all over the world – in the United States, China and Scandinavia.
Space for photography, posing and staging
Schaub sees an increasing trend to digitalization in particular. “Apps, virtual and augmented reality elements are increasingly making inroads into exhibitions and museums.” Ticketing is becoming ever more digital in tandem, and social media are becoming more important although only as a marketing instrument. Schaub perceives what she terms “Instagramization”. “Future-oriented worlds of experience must meet the visitor’s wishes to post photos as perfect as possible, creating the appropriate surroundings.” This implies areas that are from the outset created for taking photos, posing and staging, including the necessary lighting.
Chocoversum – interactive world of experience centred on chocolate
The key to success is interacting authentically and as focused as possible with visitors, who frequently arrive at an exhibition with widely varying expectations. “So we looked very closely at the structure of our visitors,” said Schaub, co-owner of Chocoversum. This interactive world of experience centred on chocolate was launched as a “free-flow museum” in 2011, with visitors walking on their own through the exhibition. However, this met with little success as not all visitors found it easy to access information on the origin, cultivation and processing of chocolate based on the many exhibits. Those who had come primarily in the hope of a sensual experience of chocolate had little interest in the background information. Chocoversum’s switch to tours with a combination of tasting and information changed the situation. “We hit a nerve with that. Visitor numbers recovered virtually from one day to the next. We were almost able to double the number in the first year from 67,000 to 105,000.” That number has now stabilized at around 200,000 visitors, Schaub said. Around 30 per cent are groups with the remainder individual visitors, mainly tourists from all over Germany.
Caro Chocoholic, Frank the Father and Holiday Helen
A standard tour lasts 90 minutes leaving enough time for a relationship to be created between visitor and guide. “The readiness to provide feedback is correspondingly large,” Schaub said. Based on the data gathered, the Chocoversum team was able to identify different target groups. “Of course, one has to speak to children differently. But we also distinguish between e.g. Caro Chocoholic, Frank the Father and Holiday Helen. Each of these ‘personas’ arrives with their particular expectations, and we strive to satisfy them.” As Schaub noted, only a satisfied visitor becomes a positive multiplier. “The aim is for our visitors to leave Chocoversum happy. That takes some effort on our part. Our staff spend 10 per cent of their time on training courses.”
Creating positive experiences for Hamburg
If the concept succeeds, Chocoversum will not be the only ones to profit from this. “Anyone developing museums or worlds of experience creates tourist attractions. And together we try to create positive experiences for Hamburg.” For this reason, she does not see Miniature Wonderland, Fairy Tale Worlds or the Dungeons as competitors. “The various worlds of experience boost business for everybody. Nevertheless, economic viability remains a daily challenge.” The biggest problem is the weather in Hamburg. Chocoversum counters it with flexible pricing, but this is only of limited help in competing with the sun. “The lovely Easter weather cost us a five-figure sum in turnover. I’ve turned into a rain fan,” she said.
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