An enjoyable day out, wonderful memories and coming home with a big smile are just some of the things visitors like to take away with them after a day out. I caught up with David Allister to discover the key to bringing visitors back to a park, time and again.
Before I picked David’s brain, I was keen to find out a little bit more about him. Park development has been an interest of David’s for many years, he was previously the Park Service Developer at London Borough of Southwark Council before becoming Head of Parks at London Borough of Richmond Upon Thames Council. David has been in his current role for almost a decade now and still adores it, he told me: “I love the fact that I get to make a difference to the quality of people’s lives and get to mix with a wide range of visitors who all get something out of parks and open spaces.”
David is delighted to have formed a wonderful group of colleagues over the years, he told me: “One of my biggest achievements is developing a fantastic team who have pride, ownership and a sense of achievement and value”.
But even experts like David face challenges in their job. The biggest hurdle David faces is dealing with contrasting opinions, he explained: “Trying to facilitate a solution that serves the purpose as well as satisfying various parties can be challenging.” However, thanks to his approachable character David feels he can tackle this hurdle. He prides himself on his honest and open personality, he said: “I have my opinions but I am always open to other views – the day I think I know everything is the day I should retire!”
Parks have the power to make the visitor’s day truly memorable which is why David is so passionate about keeping parks and open spaces in excellent condition, he explained: “Parks have a positive impact on people’s lives because they can create a sense of peace and wellbeing. This is one of the most important aspects of modern life that cannot be found in many places. Therefore it is not about the park, it’s about the effect it has on people’s lives.”
If visitors have an enjoyable day at a park then it’s likely they will come back again and again. This is why providing a positive experience is vital to experts like David, he explained: “Life is fast and we move at such a pace that we forget more than we remember. Providing a memorable experience is such a positive thing in people’s lives – shared days out with loved ones generates conversation and maybe even a smile. If these elements can be recreated in a park then they will remain as the focus for a memory and therefore visitors will come back.”
Given the current economic climate, David advises professionals in similar roles to listen to visitors opinions. He went on to say: “Do what is right. Remember, you do not always know what’s best.”
And finally, if you ever feel like things are getting on top of you, simply remember one of David’s favourite sayings by Jules Renard which goes: “Look for the ridiculous in everything and you will find it.”
If you are keen to enhance the visitor’s experience at your site with clear waymarking or interpretation panels, why not give us a call today and we can discuss your vision further.
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