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Portsmouth Historic Dockyard
Master Planning for Top Naval Visitor AttractionIn a Nutshell
Portsmouth Historic Dockyard is the world’s greatest naval visitor attraction currently attracting over 700,000 visitors. It is in the exciting process of delivering a strategic five-year plan to increase visitor numbers and embody its vision to “bring our Navy story alive”. To help realize its ambitions it commissioned A Different View and Toronto based design firm Forrec to develop a 10 year attraction master plan in line with its strategic goals.
A bit about Portsmouth Historic Dockyard
Portsmouth Historic Dockyard is the world’s greatest naval visitor attraction. Nowhere else can a visitor see and experience a major Tudor warship, an 18th century battleship and a mid 19th century ironclad, supported by a wealth of galleries and displays which tell the story of war at sea across half a millennium, and all of this set within a well-preserved 18th century Dockyard and against a backdrop of a modern, functioning, naval base.
As a result, visitors have come to the Dockyard in very large numbers since HMS Victory first opened to the public in 1922; an estimated 30,000,000 to Victory alone in the intervening decades. The site as a whole currently attracts 725,000 visitors a year.
How we got involved
This project was a collaboration with Toronto based design firm Forrec. Forming a new team, we arrived at Portsmouth Historic Dockyard with our master-planning hats on. The aim was to develop a 10 year attraction master plan, in conjunction with the Dockyard’s five year strategic plan to raise visitor numbers to over 1 million, so our approach had to be both conceptual and highly practical, taking into account a complex environment with many stakeholders and challenges to financial sustainability; we needed to balance “mission and margin”.
We formed the master plan through four phases. In the first phase, we immersed ourselves in PHD’s current offer. We undertook Visitor Experience Mapping and a site facility assessment to evaluate how well the offer appeals to intended market segments. We then guided the team in a visioning session, gathering and developing the ideas, inspiration and opportunities learned from our audit.
In phase two, we led content sessions with curatorial staff and others to thrash out how the unique narrative of the Dockyard should be delivered. The third and fourth phases were to put all this into a clear master plan and Business Performance Analysis, giving the Dockyard team actionable recommendations and strategy.
• A ten year attraction development master plan
• A collaborative plan that ensured volunteers, staff and trustees were involved.
• A site wide interpretative framework for individual trusts to follow
• A full business performance analysis with a detailed look at existing and future operations