the Colaborative Inc

Economic Development Planning

In “Field of Dreams,” actor Kevin Costner states, “if we build it they will come”.. .in your dreams and the movies, yes; in real life, no.

At its best, market analysis is a form of participatory planning, in the same general realm as design workshops and “stakeholder sessions.” Even with public sector design projects, market analysis should be a significant driver; an integral part of a larger mix of input sources that includes the client and design team members. Market analysis often provides strong user input that mitigates extremism in the other two major areas of input: namely, when the client is didactic, the design team works for the owner; when the design team is didactic, they are termed egocentric and the owner may feel powerless and frustrated. We pride ourselves on our ability to work in a collaborative fashion with owners; however, having more input from additional sources provides a more even balance and overall, a more tailored response. Market analysis is only valuable if the information is valued enough by the owner and design team to be used as important input.

Creative people shy away from market analysis because they believe it stifles creativity. A market analysis might stifle the range in creativity but not its intensity. You should know what people want before you decide not to give it to them. Why? Because typically its more acceptable to redirect a person’s desires slightly rather than 180 degrees.

In a discussion with our firm about problems needing to be addressed during the renovation of his hotel, a general manager said, “I do not need to give you my Guest Comment Cards to tell you about our problems, I know our problems, and if I did not, I would not be much of a manager, now would I?”. This GM’s hotel has 157 rooms, do you think he slept in each one of these rooms every 6 months to know their problems? Do not gather the information if you are not going to take it seriously, study it, and respond. In this case, the Guest Comment Cards were only used to vent guest frustrations with the hotel. While these cards left an “impression” that the hotel was concerned with a guest´s welfare and opinions, the GM was not enabled to do anything about their hospitality problems. We have yet to forget a huge carton of Guest Comment Cards that are left unread in the corner of this GM’s office.

Market analysis may be provided as a stand-alone service or in conjunction with other services, such as a new museum or the refocusing of an existing one, hotel developments, and heritage tourism planning. Where the success of the project is measured by the number of satisfied clients, market analysis is critical.

Sometimes a market analysis indicates that a project should not be constructed. In Springfield, Massachusetts, the city considered a joint development of a U.S.-based equivalent to the Tower of London Museum with the Royal Armories of London, who operate the Tower in the United Kingdom. A multitude of information gathering techniques were utilized to identify the perceived value of this project within the proposed regional community: telephone surveys of area residents, visitor interviews at competing facilities, and a highway intercept survey. The concept for this new museum did not meet with much initial interest. However, the proposed exhibits featuring native son, Dr. Seuss (Theodore Geisel) and a new natural history museum were of strong interest within the community. As a result of the feedback from this analysis, a Dr. Seuss Park was developed and the local Science Museum added and featured a whole new series of exhibits on the natural history of the Connecticut River Valley. The Royal Armories venture was pursued no further.

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