Skip the Queue Season 1 – What you’ll learn

E1 Inside Hertfordshire’s number one tourist attraction with Lynn Whitnall

Lynn Whitnall is the Director of Paradise Wildlife Park, a Fellow of the Institute of Travel & Tourism and she also sits on the council of the British & Irish Association of Zoos & Aquariums (BIAZA).

Paradise Wildlife Park is a much-loved and highly esteemed venue that’s home to over 800 animals, including the largest collection of big cats in Britain. As well as wallabies, wolves and white lions, they also have five adventure playgrounds and one of the UK’s biggest and most spectacular animatronic dinosaur displays.



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 What will you learn from this podcast?

  • How the Sampson family transformed Broxbourne Zoo (known for being one of the worst zoos in the country) into Hertfordshire’s number one tourist attraction, Paradise Wildlife Park.
  • What Lynn’s role as Director entails
  • How the park prioritises education through different events and partnerships
  • What the team’s brainstorming process looks like and how they choose ideas
  • How the park uses feedback to improve their offerings
  • The importance of conservation to zoos and aquariums
  • The value of bloggers, vloggers and video content
  • Lynn’s approach to fundraising


Lynn’s view about education and the most important part of what they do: 

“There are so many different ways that we can actually educate. But I think the most important thing is we can actually bring the families and schools together and educate them through fun. They don’t even realise they’re being educated, but they go away with so many little fun facts – it’s just a great way of learning.”

Listen to the podcast here


E2 What makes a successful escape room? We get the inside scoop from CryptX founder, James Ducker

James Ducker is the founder of CryptX Escape Rooms based in Cambridge.

James worked in banking for many years – he was at HBOS during the crash and became a whistleblower when he grew disillusioned with the financial sector.



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What will you learn from this podcast?

  • How James went from banking to escape rooms
  • His process for creating exciting rooms and puzzles
  • What makes a “bad” escape room and practices to avoid
  • The inspiration and history behind his rooms
  • The psychology of why people play escape rooms
  • How he effectively markets his rooms
  • How he defines a target market
  • The pros and cons of the escape room industry as a whole
  • The future of health and safety procedures
  • The importance of customer feedback
  • Top tips for those just starting on their escape room journey

Key takeaways from James in the podcast:

Making a living from one, two or three rooms is difficult. There are bigger rewards if you take the risk and invest in a bigger venue that can hold four plus rooms. Consider the risk before you do it.  James added: “if you are you willing to take the risk, then do it”.

Listen to the podcast here


E3 50,000 visitors within three months of opening? No problem for William’s Den owners, Tor and Christian Carver

Tor Carver and Christian Carver are the founders of William’s Den – a unique adventure attraction in East Yorkshire

Since its opening in 2017, William’s Den has gained plenty of admirers and recognition. They were regional finalists in The Rural Business Awards North – and winners in the Remarkable East Yorkshire Tourism Awards (REYTA) and the RICS Awards (which showcase the most inspirational initiatives and developments in land, real estate, construction and infrastructure).



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What will you learn from this podcast?

  • The inspiration behind William’s Den
  • The importance of play and freedom to children’s development
  • What the team’s creative and research process looks like
  • The team’s main challenges and how they were overcome
  • How to get recruitment right and the value of training employees
  • The importance of sustainable design and how to implement it
  • How the attraction received 50,000 visitors in their first three months of opening
  • Top tips for those who want to build an adventure attraction

Tor and Christian’s advice to those who wanted to open an adventure attraction:

Christian Carver:

“Think about your brand. Think long and hard about your brand and be true to your brand all the way through. If it doesn’t fit with your brand don’t do it.”

Tor Carver:

“My tip would be actually, to be true to yourself and listen to your gut. Your gut tells you an awful lot.”

Listen to the podcast here


E4 The science of creating an incredible visitor experience with Andy White

Andy White is the king of “Themed Experiential Entertainment” – the process of bringing Brands and IP’s to life with big ideas and innovative technology, creating something that customers will enjoy and remember forever.

His agency, Andy White Creative, uses skill and expertise to create entertaining and memorable experiences for all kinds of visitor attractions including; theme parks, resorts and retail destinations. He’s worked on some incredible projects including CBeebies Land Hotel, The Gruffalo River Ride Adventure and Sid’s Arctic Tours Ice Age Adventure.


What will you learn from this podcast?

  • What’s involved in the process of bringing experiences to life – how to turn an intangible idea into a practical reality
  • How creating fantastic experiences translates into increased ticket sales
  • Theme books – what are they and how do they help?
  • How to entertain guests in queues
  • The secret formula to great storytelling

Andy’s secret formula for creating a good experience:

Everything we do is about telling a story – a good story has a beginning, a middle and an end.” So, depending on how long that experience is, you’ve got to have a great start, a great middle, and a great finale. As long as it’s got those things, then you should be onto a winner. 

It is about looking at key areas, working out what the beats are of the story, how long each bit’s going to take, how long are people going to be in there? How long should this effect go on for?”

Listen to the podcast here



E5 Priceless business strategy tips from the ‘Millionaire Clown’ – James Sinclair

We have a fascinating chat with James Sinclair, the entrepreneur who runs 9 indoor leisure units, 3 laser arenas, 5-day nurseries, a water park and a 50-acre farm park attraction that welcomes over 1 million visitors every year.

He’s also a published author whose book “The Millionaire Clown” details his journey from a teenage children’s entertainer to multiple business owners, turning 8 figures and employing over 300 staff.



What will you learn from this podcast?

  • The importance of creating content and building an audience
  • How to build a leisure business that’s not weather dependant
  • James’ five P’s formula for business success
  • The difference between good leadership and good management
  • Why you need to invest in customer service
  • The number 1 driver for creating a great customer experience

Key takeaways from James on the podcast:

On marketing:

Content marketing is absolutely crucial for businesses. If you act like your company is a media company then you’re effectively pulling people towards you, rather than pushing for people.

On leadership:

Employing people with the right cultural fit is more important than employing someone who is highly skilled.

On customer service:

Remove stresses to create the best customer service. Reduce queues from your attraction by using self-serve and make your website as easy as possible to buy tickets.

On innovation:

If businesses don’t innovate, they’re going to evaporate.

Listen to the podcast here



E6 Castle Howard’s love story with China – as told by Abbigail Ollive

Abbigail Ollive, Head of Marketing at Castle Howard. Castle Howard is a stunning stately home in rural North Yorkshire, designed by Sir John Vanbrugh back in 1699 for the third Earl of Carlisle. Since the 50s, Castle Howard has been a visitor attraction, welcoming around 300,000 visitors a year.


Castle Howard

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What will you learn from this podcast?

  • The importance of understanding our audience and catering specifically for their needs
  • If it’s difficult to integrate WeChat and Alipay for Chinese visitors
  • How to create a digital guest experience that’s second to none
  • Why you need to be proactive in changing and adapting your marketing strategy
  • Why you need to work with sector specialists
  • How empowering your front of house team to be super helpful creates the ultimate experience for your guests

Key takeaways from Abbigail on the podcast:

On attracting more Chinese visitors to attractions:

Be authentic. Do not do things for the sake of doing it. 

Telling stories is important and you have to know how to communicate the best.

The best way to communicate some stories is by having a WeChat account and working with a partner to have a Chinese website. 

You have to know what you can offer to your Chinese clients and think about how you can carry it.

Think about the things that are attractive to you and how you can present them to the audience. 

Social media nowadays plays a great role in communication and presentation. 

Listen to the podcast here



E7 Visitors are dead, long live the players! With Alex Book

Alex Book is the Chief Operating Officer of Arcade, a digital practice that connects people to places using augmented reality.

Arcade specialise in using augmented reality (AR) to help visitor attractions engage their audiences more meaningfully. 

They’re experts at creating immersive experiences designed to guide, educate, entertain and, most importantly, connect us more to the world and each other.

Alex is a big believer in “experience is king” which we discuss at length in the interview along with why it might be time to say goodbye to the ‘visitor’.


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What will you learn from this podcast?

  • The importance of using augmented reality with a purpose
  • Thinking of visitors as players, rather than guests
  • How the heritage sector is embracing AR
  • Accessibility considerations with using AR
  • How AR will become a normal way of life
  • The opportunities for museums

Key takeaways from Alex on the podcast:

On Augmented Reality:

Know the technology and how you can utilise it best. 

Experience is king. 

Creating immersive experiences designed to guide, educate, entertain and connect us more to the world and each other.

 Tips to consider in using technology:

Always consider it first from the viewer’s perspective. Thinking about how it can be used best to whoever is using it.

Finding the balance of objectives between starting with the audience’s perspective, creating something that is going to be fit for purpose and can be enjoyed, and balancing that with the interests of the organisation. 

Empowerment is putting the user in control, giving them options to do what they like.

On the benefit of guests’ participation:

Giving people a role to play makes them more participatory. They’re engaged. 

The experience built around them affects their experience of it. It will be interesting if you of the people who have turned up as players.

On technology:

Technology is about trying to understand, learn and work out as an industry and as a society. 

Listen to the podcast here



E8 Creating connections in cultural organisations. With Marge Ainsley

Marge Ainsley, a well-respected arts and heritage consultant, specialising in museum evaluation, audience research and communication for museums, libraries and theatres. 




What will you learn from this podcast?

  • Creating connections
  • Bringing audiences and organisations closer together
  • Helping staff to work more productively
  • Understanding barriers to visiting attractions
  • Breaking down perceptions
  • The value of cultural organisations on health and wellbeing
  • Interviewing 5000 people in one weekend at the Grand Prix

Key takeaways from Marge on the podcast:

On what people want from organisations in the cultural sector:

People want a welcoming space and different things depending on which target audiences.

It’s a place within their community where they can learn, be entertained and take their time out. 

Spaces that the community feels are for them. It’s the sense of community- changing the perception of museums not being stuffy and unwelcoming places.

Listen to the podcast here



E9 How to build ‘digital things’ for GLAMs without a huge budget. With John Sear

John Sear is a Game Designer & Software Developer, Runner of Workshops and Maker of game-like things for public spaces like Museums, Galleries & Festivals.

John builds exciting ‘digital things’ without a huge budget with DIY tutorials for museums.

One of his most impressive projects includes a 500 player, feature-length, collaborative game played using laser pointers, for which he won the Indiecade Developer’s Choice Award (referred to as the Sundance of the Games Industry).




What will you learn from this podcast?

  • Creating games that are fun, educational and true to venues
  • The importance of storytelling
  • How to build ‘digital things’ without a huge budget
  • Collaborative touch table experiences
  • Focusing on fun first, educational after
  • Using your venue for immersive theatre experiences, when it’s usually closed

Key takeaways from John on the podcast:

On the benefit of having some interactive elements in GLAMs (Galleries, Libraries, Archives, Museums):

An enhanced experience with the use of technology. 

The technology makes the game exciting. It does not detract from what is already there which includes museums and galleries and castles and other attractions. Technology magnifies and attracts more people to visit.

People will get immersed in the game, giving them a new experience of fun and thrill.

About the game:

Players are essentially spies. They’re working for a secret organisation and are not supposed to get caught.

Players are supposed to be like a visitor, but secretly, a spy doing interesting things.

Listen to the podcast here

Paul Wright.
Kelly Molson Managing Director

Host of the popular Skip the Queue Podcast, for people working in or working with visitor attractions, she regularly delivers workshops and presentations on the sector at various national conferences and universities including The Visitor Attractions Conference, ASVA and Anglia Ruskin University.

Read more about me

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