The Mighty Oak: How the National Trust creates visitor experience

WHITESIDE, Ian (2021). The Mighty Oak: How the National Trust creates visitor experience. Doctoral, Sheffield Hallam University.

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The National Trust is a heritage and environmental conservation organisation. Managing over 500 heritage properties that are open to visitors presents challenges to ensure a quality visitor experience. Key themes in the literature concern the management of space, authenticity and the skills and experience of managers and visitors. The current literature is about professional practice but what the conversations collected as data uncovered was that we have several different types of professional practice working in conjunction with each other, often not recognising the differences in approach and validity of the varying positions. How does the National Trust create visitor experience? By examining stories collected from within the National Trust, we can understand how the National Trust creates visitor experience. A greater understanding of how the National Trust works to create visitor experience leads to a breaking through the postmodern veneer of the corporate National Trust. The data for this thesis has been collected through a series of conversations with senior managers, specialists, property managers, visitor facing staff and volunteers at a range of National Trust properties. This research is being undertaken to better understand the organisation and to enhance the visitor experience. Deconstruction has been used for the analysis of this data to investigate the internal workings of the NT, power relationships and positions and how this creates the visitor experience. There is agreement within the National Trust about what constitutes a good experience for visitors and about key messages that visitors should take away, but there is not always agreement about how this should be achieved. There is also a question about who visitors are and diversity of visitors and within the trust, this is manifested in the question whose story is being told? This research suggests the following implications for professional practice, the need to define success to develop key performance indicators, the need for the National Trust to address issues of inclusion and representation, review of management and recruitment of future volunteers, introducing a standard approach to curation. The research also suggests the following academic contribution, development of the concept of the servicescape and the contribution of volunteers.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Thesis advisor - May, Daryl
Thesis advisor - Gilligan, Christine
Thesis advisor - Fallon, Paul
Additional Information: Director of Studies: Dr Daryl May, Dr Christine Gilligan. Supervisor: Dr Paul Fallon
Research Institute, Centre or Group - Does NOT include content added after October 2018: Sheffield Hallam Doctoral Theses
Identification Number:
Depositing User: Justine Gavin
Date Deposited: 01 Dec 2022 17:38
Last Modified: 11 Oct 2023 12:32

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