The process typically involves the following steps and tasks:
1 Initial Data Gathering & Concept Briefing
This involves gathering and collating all existing data, previous studies and background on the project that the client team has available. It is important to start with a base understanding of what data has already been sourced rather than go over previously-covered ground.
It is also important to discuss the client’s vision for the project, understand the development plans for the scheme and understand how they are looking to measure success.
2 Site & Area Review
Visiting the site and local area is essential to gain an appreciation of the area and how appropriate it is for the creation of a visitor attraction. Aspects such as public and private transport access, climate factors, site characteristics and adjacent land uses all need to be considered.
3 Resident and Tourist Market Assessment
An understanding of the size and nature of the available resident and tourist markets is a critical aspect.
This includes an evaluation of the number of residents living within appropriate drive time isochrones and their demographic profile - market size, income, age, leisure behaviour patterns etc. Regional residents generally provide the largest proportion of visitors.
Tourists are also important and in certain markets are the most important visitor segment. An understanding of historic trends in the number of visitors, origin, seasonality, purpose of visit, average length of stay and spending provide valuable context for the study.
4 Local Market Assessment
Even if a client believes that there is no competition for their vision, there will be a range of existing attractions within any market. A review of the local offers will provide information on the level of attendance, admission pricing, seasonality patterns and financial performance within the local area.
5 Lessons from Comparable Attractions
For many schemes there will be nothing directly comparable within the local market so it is important to undertake research into comparable attractions regionally and globally.
An examination of the nature of the attractions, attendance, market penetration rates, attraction size, seasonality, pricing, staffing levels and financial performance will provide valuable lessons and precedents.
6 Attendance Projections
Drawing on the research into the available markets, local attractions and international benchmarks combined with site and concept factors will lead to projections of potential attendance levels and seasonal visitation levels for the attraction.
7 Physical Planning
The seasonal attendance patterns will lead onto forecasts of design day attendance levels and attraction area requirements. These are valuable guidelines for design teams to help them to assess the most appropriate size of attraction to meet the market demand as well as aspects such as entertainment capacity, F&B seating, retail space and parking requirements.
8 Pricing and Revenues
Pricing needs to reflect the nature and quality of the proposed attraction as well as relevant local attraction and entertainment pricing levels. Admission revenues will need to reflect local taxes and discounts, while secondary spending is affected by the offer, length of stay and surrounding competition.
9 Operating Costs and Financial Projections
The operating costs need to take account of the cost of goods sold, staff, marketing, utilities, maintenance, operations and administration. Combining revenues and costs results in a projected profit & loss statement for the attraction.
This leads into cash flow projections which incorporate the estimated capital costs, annual reinvestment allocation and financing assumptions and result in projections of return on investment.
At the conclusion of the study the report will need to provide clear details of the data, research findings, analysis and financial projections.