National Trust – ‘Spirit of Place’

Testing Spirit of Place themes for the National Trust

Over the next few years the National Trust’s ‘Spirit of Place’ strategy will help to guide the development of some of its most iconic properties. In order to maximise the strategy, the National Trust needs to fully understand what audiences feel makes their properties special places.
The National Trust in Yorkshire and the North East identified three priority properties in the region for which audience insight is helping to inform the strategy – Fountains Abbey and Studley Royal (FASR), Cragside and Seaton Delaval Hall.

Help from Qa Research

The National Trust needed to work with an agency that had extensive experience of conducting research in the tourism sector that could help advise on ways forward – Qa have been researching the views of visitors for attractions for 20 years so were ideally placed. We were asked to test visitor and potential visitor attitudes, at each of the three properties, towards a number of themes that were being considered to represent the Spirit of Place ethos and to advise on a final theme to take forward.

Testing the themes

In total, covering all three properties, Qa carried out twelve focus groups at multiple UK locations, each one reflecting slightly different visitor and non-visitor segments.

Respondents were presented with the stimulus material for the themes being considered and engaged in a full discussion to elicit their reaction to each theme and asked to select the one they felt best related to the venue as a special place. Certain respondents were also encouraged to participate in our innovative ‘talking heads video vox pop’ – answering a number of open questions in front of our video camera which really helped to bring some of the overall key messages to life.

And where next?

The findings of the research presented National Trust with important information to feed in to their overall long term development strategies for each property. The findings will also ensure that plans meet the demands and needs of varying types of existing as well as potential visitors.

What the Client said:

Andrew McLean, Curator at the National Trust said: “Qa were professional from the very beginning. They worked brilliantly with us and delivered everything we asked of them and more. I would have no hesitation in making use of Qa in the future.”

What the Researcher said:

Richard Bryan, Managing Director at Qa said: “We were delighted to work with the National Trust on a project that is so important to shaping the future direction of some of the best visitor attractions in the country. We look forward to seeing how the results from the research materialise at each of the properties we were investigating”