Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Bob Rogers' Rules for Creating Attractions

Bob Rogers, founder of California-based design firm BRC Imagination Arts, gave what could be considered a companion presentation to Pine’s earlier Tuesday. Rogers told the audience he was going to help them take Pine’s theories and put them into reality in the attractions business.

Like Pine’s explanation that authenticity is defined not by a business, but by its customers, Rogers said attraction designers must look into the hearts of its customers to spur their creativity. He said preliminary sketches shouldn’t start at the 30,000-foot level, but with what the guest can expect to derive from the experience. He broke this application down into a series of five points designers must consider while creating an attraction:

1. Where Is the Story?
“The story lives in the hearts and minds of the audience,” Rogers said, citing as an example how many buildings in the world—with no inherent story to them—still hold a very emotional place in their guests’ hearts. He mentioned the Empire State Building specifically, as visitors bring with them all the romantic notions of the building portrayed in countless Hollywood productions; thus, Rogers said, the New York City icon, though it is not inherently romantic, is the site of marriage proposals on a daily basis.

2. Know Yourself
A good attraction, Rogers said, will interpret a facility on the basis of its ability to inspire love, hope, reassurance, and strength, principles Walt Disney laid out more than 50 years ago when he opened Disneyland in California. A great park should honor its heritage while still moving into the future, Rogers said.

3. Be Original
Rogers said it’s his fear that the attractions industry is being too repetitive, with facilities trying to offer exactly what its competitors are offering instead of striving for elements that set it apart. “When products are all the same, you will compete on price,” he said, and that doesn’t keep the industry fresh and new. He said facilities should use conferences such as EAS 2008 for “research and courage,” to find out what competitors are doing and then find your own unique expression of that idea. This point was so important to him, he broke it down into another series of five points: Make it true; make it local; make it personal; make it fun; and if you do all that, you will make it original.

4. Design from the Inside Out
As mentioned above, start with the guest, not the schematic.

5. Put in a Miracle
Rogers admits there’s no scientific method to adding that special touch that puts an attraction over the top, but he sure did try. He said all design teams need to have the following:

• List-checker—Someone who ensures all the necessary steps are accomplished.
• Cheerleader—The person who gets the group energized in the beginning of a project.
• Eeyore—Like the famous Winnie the Pooh character, someone who will bring group down to earth (hopefully without being too pessimistic).
• Fool Killer—A detail-oriented person who, like the list-checker, helps bring the project home in the second half, but isn’t around to kill ideas during the early stages of an idea.
• The Magician—The quality control person, who isn’t afraid to say “that’s not good enough” and reject ideas that don’t fulfill the project’s potential.

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