You can’t market your history in tourism, unless you let your visitors get their hands dirty

People holding chickens

Do you want to look at a museum display about how pioneer farmers kept poultry, or do you want Jerad to hand you a chicken? Photo by Becky McCray, taken at Bradt’s Menagerie near Alva, Oklahoma.

Visitors don’t want to LOOK, they want to DO.

People are looking for things to do, not just things to look at, tourism expert Roger Brooks said. That’s why it’s so hard to market your history in tourism. You have to find ways to make people involved in the experience of that history.

Visit Indiana is working that lesson, with a Carrie Lambert story titled “Don’t just learn about history, LIVE it!

“History was never my favorite subject. All those dates to memorize and trying to keep things straight in my head seemed tedious. I’m a person who likes to experience things by touching them, seeing them in person, feeling them in front of me. That is why I’ve always liked Conner Prairie Interactive History Park ….

“We started inside the museum, where gone are the static exhibits of the history of Indiana and in their place is ‘Create. Connect’ an interactive exhibit that focuses on history, science and technology. Here, you can build your own windmill to see if you can provide power for a farmhouse or create your own circuit with wires and switches.

“Once we ventured outside, the first place we hit was Animal Encounters. It is exactly what you think – a place where you come face-to-face with cows, goats, sheep and more. I could barely get my four-year-old out of this building … which explains why we had to go back multiple times during our visit!”

Read the rest of Carrie’s story for even more interactivity, and decide whether you’ll join in the war.

Read more about how to move your visitors along the progression of engagement.

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About Becky McCray

Becky started Small Biz Survival in 2006 to share rural business and community building stories and ideas with other small town business people. She and her husband own a retail liquor store in Alva, Oklahoma, and a small cattle ranch nearby. Becky is an international speaker on small business.

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  1. says

    Mike Courtney added by email:
    “Nice idea. You might caution folks to check with their liability insurer, to be sure that there is coverage, for the activities. Generally, Farm Liability coverage does not contemplate petting zoos, hay rides, etc., unless there is an extra charge, and coverage endorsed to the policy. Museums are often insured by specialty underwriters, with custom terms. Some may, or may not, automatically include coverage for hands on. Best to check with your Independent Agent/Trusted Choice Agent, first.”