You almost certainly passionate about your ‘thing’. That’s great and just as it should be. But don’t let your love blind you.
One of the joys of my work is to meet people who are totally fired up by their ‘thing’ The objects of their delight are often things that the rest of us don’t notice or think about – from wallpaper to watermills, clouds to coppice. But fans are not necessary the best judges. One of the saddest, but probably the most useful, parts of my work is when I have to say, “Oh, I think that’s really (REALLY) interesting … but, you know, the rest of the world is just not going to get it.”
So how can you tell? Is the thing you love really that lovable? Will it attract people?
Here are six criteria (three now, three here) to help you decide whether your beloved ‘thing’ could possibly stop passersby in their tracks, or at least persuade them to while away an hour or so of their time with you.
Think about them, before you commit to the back-breaking work of trying to turn it all into a money-making venture. Take a reality check.
Uniqueness: The more unusual the story or resource the better. If you can truly use superlatives (such as oldest, biggest, last remaining, first etc.) the potential appeal is even stronger. This applies to the uniqueness of the experience as well as the story.
Authenticity: Real matters, ‘Real’ objects, archive material (documents, photographs, video, audio), and/or people with first hand experiences. Do you have enough ‘real’?
Local Connections: A sense of place and of the local way of life is a winning ingredient particularly if you want to attract tourists. Meeting local people can be a big plus.
WARNING: Just having all of these (and the next three) is not enough – there is still a ton of work to make your thing into a decent attraction. Most successful heritage attractions have all of them – if you are missing out on one or two, you will need to compensate for that weakness.