During a camping trip at Maumee Bay State Park I watched as the park prepared for a Fourth of July celebration. Small flags lined the entrance road to the campground. Every campsite had an individual flag. Volunteers were meeting to discuss the plan for a bike parade the next day.
Watching this made me consider the impact preparation can have on a park.
Park Ranger Joseph Felgenhauer taught me about the impact of preparation and the importance interpreting an experience. During one hike along the Little Spokane River, while leading a group of school kids, Joseph taught me the following things;
Use words to guide and experience. Ranger Felgenhauer used words to lead his guests to discover and learn.
Encourage people to participate. Ranger Felgenhauer encouraged kids to touch everything they came across on the trail.
Point out what you want people to see. A customer could miss something outstanding if you don’t point it out to them.
Know what your customers are going to see, feel, and experience. Ranger Felgenhauer knew every turn and curve his guest would walk on the interpretive hike.
Preparation trumps knowledge. Preparation can leave you in a position to adjust to anything that may arise.
Nothing beats preparation. Don’t leave people your visitors to have a good time on their own. Prepare for it.
There is no substitute for WOW. Ranger Felgenhauer WOWed his guest. The WOW is what they will remember, not the weather or the beautiful trees.