This study investigated the level in which guests were engaging at a “touch table”, a method of guest engagement at Knowsley Safari, and types of conversations that were initiated by guests. The touch table consisted of two collapsible tables which displayed a variety of artefacts to the public on the foot safari and was set up in two locations during school holidays, between 10th February to 31st October 2018. Data was collected noting the type of groups visiting, their dwell time, perceived engagement level and the types of interactions and conversations they were initiating at the touch table. Results showed dwell time was affected by season, member of staff present, type of group visiting the touch table and engagement level of the group. Engagement level was also affected by group type. When location was examined, on average longer dwell time and higher engagement levels were displayed at the ‘rides’ (a previously successful location) whereas more visitors engaged at the touch table when it was on the tiger trail (a new location with predicted high footfall). Finally, when looking at conversation type, 68.3% of guests initiated ‘surface level’ conversation, 27.2% in ‘deeper’ conversation and 89.6% in ‘other’ conversation. As a result of this study, Knowsley Safari will now run guest engagement during winter months. Smaller, themed touch tables with fewer artefacts and more activities are being developed to appeal to small groups and individuals, as well as encouraging guests to initiate deeper conversation topics with the educator.
Touch tables are run every weekend and during school holidays at Knowsley Safari, they are a free-choice activity that guests are welcome to participate in.
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