Skip the Queue Season 2 Episodes 32-43 – What you’ll learn

E32 Applying service design to the visitor journey. With Paul-Jervis Heath

Paul-Jervis Heath, Founding Partner & Chief Creative Officer at Modern Human.

Paul-Jervis Heath is an award-winning product and service designer and renowned design strategist with over 20 years of experience. He is Founding Partner & Chief Creative Officer at Modern Human, a multidisciplinary design practice and innovation consultancy that specialises in imagining disruptive new products, services, experiences and workplaces then making them a reality.

He founded Modern Human to create truly meaningful products, services and experiences that enrich the human experience by empowering and liberating those who use them.


Paul Jervis Heath


What will you learn from this podcast?

  • Service design for attractions
  • How to apply this to the visitor funnel and visitor journey
  • The brilliant work Modern Human carried out for the Ashmolean Museum in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic
  • Why service design is really all about the use of digital touchpoints
  • What are the challenges that the attractions have to think of Service design as a solution
  • Paul’s ​​advice to attractions that are probably planning for reopening

Key takeaways from Paul-Jervis on the podcast:

“It sounds odd when you think of the visitor experience as a service because we’re used to there being some exchange potentially between the service provider and the service user. But I think service design is the perfect set of tools for looking at the visitor journey. It provides a way of thinking about service in a holistic multi-channelled way.”

“Service design is all about those moments where you want to use digital touchpoints because they are cheap, fast, convenient. And then what happens when you perhaps don’t want somebody using an app or that you want to speak to them, and how do you build your value through those interactions.”

“That’s the other thing that service design is very good at. What are the human workarounds that you’ve got to resolve in situations and get that visitor back on track and into your attraction and having a great experience again.”

Listen to the podcast here


E33 How to be a better leader in the attractions industry. With Matt Heller

Matt Heller, Founder of Performance Optimist Consulting and Co-Host of the brilliant AttractionPros podcast

Matt Heller, ICAE, wasn’t planning on getting a summer job at an amusement park when he was in college, but his Mom suggested it because she thought it would be fun. 32 years later, Matt still loves the sound of a carousel organ, the smell of roller coaster grease and the screams of people enjoying a great ride.

Matt is also the author of two books geared specifically to the attractions industry.  The Myth of Employee Burnout tackles the difficult topic of maintaining employee motivation and engagement, while ALL CLEAR! A Practical Guide for First Time Leaders and the People Who Support Them outlines specific strategies both for people who are moving into a leadership role as well as the management teams overseeing the process. 


Matt Heller


What will you learn from this podcast?

  • How Matt has been supporting the industry through the pandemic
  • How to keep your teams motivated
  • Matt’s advice on how to be a better leader in the attractions industry
  •  Strength of a true leader
  • How Matt adapted the drastic changes in the way he work with his clients this pandemic
  • The best thing that Matt has learned from their guests on their own podcast, AttractionPros

Matt’s advice on how to be a better leader in the attractions industry:

“It comes down to communication. It doesn’t mean that you always have to have something to say. Communication is both ways. Treating them like a person and showing them that you care about them is motivating for any human being.”

“I think the other thing is when we talk about employee engagement. The question is, what do they need. That could be someone to listen to them.”

“Allow them to have that connection with people because one of the things that we’re missing most is the connection.”

“I think a lot of people get into leadership roles for that reason because we want to help others. We want to serve others, especially in this business where that’s part of what gets under your skin and gets into your blood, is helping and entertaining other people. So, I say ask that same question of yourself, not what do you want, but what do you need to stay motivated?”

“One of the things that I feel motivates me, and I think it motivates a lot of leaders, is when you can help someone else, when you can be the person that helps somebody else be successful.”

Listen to the podcast here


E34 Co-creating a cutting edge 21st century science and discovery centre. With Michelle Emerson

Michelle Emerson, Marketing and Development Director of Eureka! The National Children’s Museum

Michelle Emerson is a senior leader in development and marketing in the UK visitor attractions and museums sector. Currently Director of Marketing and Development at Eureka! The National Children’s Museum, working with a fabulous team of visitor attraction, audience development, commercial operations and marketing professionals!

Eureka! Science and Discovery Halifax

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What will you learn from this podcast?

  • Co-creating a brand new science & discovery centre
  • Retaining and entertaining their audience through lockdown
  • How has it been for Eureka through the lockdown periods
  • Crocs and socks, together.

Key Takeaways from Michelle on the podcast:

On co-creating and Eureka! Mersey:

“Eureka! Mersey, the 21st century science and discovery centre. We are aiming and on schedule to be opening in Summer 2022. We’re at the point of contracting fabricators and exhibition designers and developers to deliver what the children have come up with to be the content of Eureka! Mersey.”

“We know the themes and the industry in the area and the pathways to work that will be created through engagement with children at that young age that will be beneficial for the region as a whole.”

“We are very lucky in Halifax in that 20% of our audience come from very disadvantaged postcodes, yet they still want to engage with us. We might be the only visitor attraction or museum or cultural engagement that they have in their lives, especially their young lives. And that is something we want to continue to provide with the new Eureka! in Wirral, to make sure we’re reaching the people that can benefit.”

On what to expect:

The experience will be delivered in a very Eureka! way. It’s all fun and humour and surprise and excitement. Children in the age range of six to 14, so older than we engage within Halifax will be exploring.

Climate change is one of the big ones that all kids of that age are really engaged with at the moment.

There are those sorts of things that you’re trying to unravel with children who maybe have very little engagement at school. 

One of the reasons why Eureka! is being located in Wirral, an area with many multiple deprivations in the local communities, is to reach those families. 

Listen to the podcast here



E35 Adapting the Stonehenge experience from international to domestic audiences, with James Rodliff.

James Rodliff, Operations Manager at Stonehenge, part of English Heritage.

James is currently the Operations Manager at Stonehenge, Europe’s most famous prehistoric monument and one of the UK’s busiest visitor attractions. He is responsible for overseeing the day to day running of the large site, leading the operations, admissions, volunteering and education teams in delivering a world class visitor experience.

He is also involved with English Heritage’s brand and training groups. At the end of 2020 James was one of eight individuals chosen as the UK’s ‘unsung heritage champions’, a Heritage Lottery Fund initiative honouring remarkable individuals who have worked tirelessly to keep the UK’s heritage accessible during the pandemic and beyond.



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What will you learn from this podcast?

  • The challenges and positives to come from a change in audience this year – from international to domestic
  • How Stonehenge will maintain a blend of physical and virtual events for the future
  • How to engage with the younger generation
  • How to mak front of line staff feel really safe and secure despite of COVID

Key Takeaways from James on the need to adapt the venue for different audiences:

“I think there are different ways that we can tell stories. That we should always be pushing ourselves to. Just because we’ve done something a certain way for a long time, doesn’t mean we should keep doing it that way. I think we should always keep an eye on whatever tools we can use in our arsenal to make the best possible experience for our guests.”

On ways people can enjoy the Stonehenge:

“Talking about the younger generation is more into the outdoors and nature and fitness and health and wellbeing.”

“Some of that I think is giving space to people to explore it in their way. Give people the space to do it. Some people want to be led. They want to know, “I’m scared of missing something if I don’t follow the exact route.” 

“Some are talking about making memories. They are looking at some cool places we can suggest that are the ultimate selfie spots.”

“We have stone circle experiences where we can host a smaller number of people outside normal opening times, where you can go inside, up close to the stones.”

“We have infrastructure onsite that is dedicated to coach groups. We can better use that to help spread people out, and make it a more comfortable and better experience for them as well”

Listen to the podcast here


E36 I’m A Celebrity, Get Me In Here! Translating big brand IPs into commercial ventures, with James Penfold Controller of Partnerships at ITV

James Penfold, Controller of Partnerships at ITV.

James Penfold is the Controller of Partnerships over at ITV and the name behind some of the prolific IP attraction, tour experiences and event ventures – including Coronation Street The Tour, Emmerdale Village Tour and the brand new (for 2021) I’m A Celebrity Jungle Challenge.

James has garnered an indisputable reputation during his 20+ year career at the forefront of leading British media and entertainment branded content formats.

An instrumental and respected figure within the industry, James has directly influenced some of the most pioneering live events, UK visitor attractions and big-brand agency collaborations of recent times.

His strategic vision, creative energy and unequivocal commercial drive have captured the essence of Intellectual Property (IP) immersive content as he continues to push the boundaries with trailblazing concepts for the biggest players within the media landscape today.



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What will you learn from this podcast?

  • Translating big brand IPs into commercial ventures
  • What the most successful formats are
  • The brand new I’m A Celebrity Jungle Challenge opening later this year
  • How the global pandemic affected his plans and how he overcame them
  • Few little exclusives of what’s next to iTV
  • Has COVID changed they deliver that visitor experience for the attractions

Key takeaways from James on the podcast:

On the most successful format from the telly to real-life experiences:

It’s about Mass Market big entertainment, stuff that appeals to the broadest audience. This lends to scalability, and scalability leads to commercial success, and it leads itself to repetition.

On I’m A Celebrity Jungle Challenge:

“This one is all about the Jungle Challenge and getting stars because, at the heart of the show, you get those stars, and it is for the more physical aspects of it.”

“Climb15-meter rock-faces, zip line across the venue, do a treetop trail. There’s a spy ride, you can strap yourself into and travel 20 miles an hour around the rooftop. There’s Escape the Jungle, which is our variant on Ninja Warrior.”

“The exciting thing is we can look at how we make the tours more accessible? Is there technology that can enhance them? We’ve long resisted audio guides because we love the interpersonal nature of the tour guide, but it can bring sets to life.”

“Completely exclusive to you, we’re building a new building next to Coronation Street in Manchester. What’s it going to serve? It’s multifaceted because it addresses multiple problems. The middle floor will have an exhibition space and the ground floor will have a 70 seat theatre. And we’ll have a café and retail outlet.”

Listen to the podcast here



E37 Opening a brand new attraction in the midst of a global pandemic! With Hannah Monteverde 

Hannah Monteverde, Top Banana, aka Park Manager, at BeWILDerwood in Cheshire.

Hannah Monteverde is the Top Banana (aka Park Manager) of the newly opened BeWILDerwood Cheshire site. A 70 acre WILD woodland home to the literary characters from owner and creator Tom Blofeld’s books, the park centres its offering on nostalgic, technology free play. With slides, treehouses, zip wires and rope bridges, alongside daily interactive storytelling and craft sessions it is a full family day out for families with children between the ages of 2-12. Leading the management team and ensuring that visitors have the best day, along with the commercial success and strategic development of the business are Hannah’s key focuses.

Starting out as a seasonal staff member at BeWILDerwood Norfolk in 2012, Hannah swiftly worked her way up through the organisation taking various operational roles with progressive levels of responsibility to see her become the Deputy General Manager of the BeWILDerwood Norfolk site in 2018. Shortly after this the opportunity arose for Hannah to become Top Banana, relocate to Cheshire and lead the operational setup and opening of the second BeWILDerwood site based in the North West. This has been Hannah’s primary focus for the past 18 months.



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What will you learn from this podcast?

  • How the pandemic impacted the opening of BeWILDerwood Cheshire
  • All of the learnings that have come from that happening
  • Women in attractions
  • Why B*Witched top trumped The Spice Girls

Key takeaways from Hannah on the podcast:

This year has proven that there is so much that can be done remotely. It has also proven that there is so much that can’t be done remotely.

“One thing that I believe in, and I was saying to them (the team) in the weeks before, “Remember when we open to take a step back and just watch and see what people do. And, to take a step back and think about everything that you have done, and just think about that impact that’s had on everyone else.”

“What was lovely is we had a huge percentage of the people that we let go in May came back. We’d recruited a bunch of people who shared the passion for what we were doing. And after everything, for them to say, “I want to come back, I still want to work with you”.

“It’s been phenomenal. To have a week of amazing sunshine and warmish weather was perfect. And then, just to see people in the park, it was the cherry on top of the cake that everybody loved because everybody did love it!”

Listen to the podcast here



E38 Decolonizing of collections and changing the name of the Museum of Us. With James Haddan

James Haddan, Senior Director of Development & External Communications at the Museum of Us in San Diego.

James Haddan has been a resident of San Diego since 1998, and has worked in the museum field for almost two decades. As the Senior Director of Development and External Communications at the Museum of Us (formerly the San Diego Museum of Man), he is responsible for building a community of support for the institution.


Museum of us

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What will you learn from this podcast?

  • The multifaceted process of decolonization
  • The process of changing the museum’s 40-year-old name
  • Why UK bacon rolls are the best in the world
  • Advice to those museums that are considering changing their names

Key takeaways from James on the podcast:

“When I say our decolonising work is a process, it’s a process. And sometimes it’s messy and we make mistakes. But we’re trying to learn how to do it correctly. And so we’re still in that process.”

“They have to understand that this is something that you’re committed to. This is a leadership shift and change that we have.”

“One of the key parts of that is to start having Indigenous and Native American people in the decision making positions on your staff.”

“You have to start making your institution reflective of your community if you expect to be able to have a conversation and work with the community that you need to work with.”

Listen to the podcast here



E39 Developing niche products for your attraction. With Esther Johnson

Esther Johnson, a Freelance Designer and Illustrator specialising in working with heritage sites.

Esther Johnson is working with the leading tourist attractions. Creating contemporary illustrations based on extensive research of each subject for commercial use.


Esther Johnson


What will you learn from this podcast?

  • The importance of having niche products in your gift shop
  • How you can develop these for your attraction
  • What you need to think about before taking on the plunge
  • What’s the ideal brief

Key takeaways from Esther on the podcast:

“People wouldn’t go if it had no memory or meaning to it, they go there because there is a purpose to that place. People are passionate about their history and what they are offering. They are, ultimately, offering a story and a place to go. And, I think that it’s only fair to capture those stories into something that they can take home as a souvenir.”

“I create bespoke-ness because you want something that you can only buy from that place. Well-thought design is important. It’s to make sure that you care about the end product so that your customers know that you’re passionate about the story. You want them to come back, and you want them to remember. It would be a nice gift that they can give to somebody else as well.”

“It’s making that decision easy for a customer to spend their money in a museum and visitor site, rather than somewhere else.”

Listen to the podcast here



E40 The importance of customer experience and fostering a culture of innovation. With Stephen Spencer

Stephen Spencer, Founder of Stephen Spencer + Associates, a collaborative consulting and training organisation.

Stephen Spencer + Associates is a collaborative consulting and training organisation with a simple purpose: to help you extract maximum value from your customers’ experience.


Stephen Spencer


What will you learn from this podcast?

  • Why is customer experience is so important right now
  • How to maximise interactions to drive value
  • What can attractions do to foster a more innovative culture

Key takeaways from Stephen on the podcast:

On what attractions can do to foster a more innovative culture within their organisation:

“I’ve tried to talk about building forward better because it is about true innovation, which is creating something new and different. To do that I think you have to be clear on your purpose, your reason for being and your vision.”

“I’m a great believer in developing customer personas. And, one of my favourite ways to do this working with organisations is, “If this group, or this couple, or this individual was a celebrity, or a band, or a team, or a character in a soap, who would they be?”

“As we know, in visitor attractions, you never quite know what’s going to happen from day to day. If everyone gets stuck in no matter what, it’s more fun, it’s more productive, and it’s better for the customer.”

On the importance of customer experience:

It is important because it has changed so much, and the changes are going to be with us for the foreseeable future. Probably five years of accelerated adoption of online and, as we’re doing now, remote meetings and so on, people shopping from home, in a year or less.

Secondly, there’s still going to be an element of public health and social distancing. There’s going to be a need for businesses to continue to demonstrate that they’re providing a safe, healthy environment for customers, which risks creating an experience that’s compromised. 

There’s probably going to be fewer customers around. There may well be little staff serving them. And, there’s probably going to be less money in the system as well. So, it means we’ve got to do more with less.”

Listen to the podcast here



E41 Developing an augmented reality experience for The National Memorial Arboretum. With Mark Ellis

Mark Ellis, Head of Visitor Experience at The National Memorial Arboretum.

Mark Ellis is the Head of Visitor Experience at the National Memorial Arboretum, in Staffordshire, the UK’s year-round centre of remembrance. He is responsible for the overall visitor experience, including commercial operations and overseeing the 150-acre site’s diverse events programme; frequently over 250 Remembrance Events each year. In the five years since he joined the Arboretum team, he has helped deliver a wide range of new events, activities and commercial opportunities including an immersive World War 1 Trench installation, Summer Proms, an Illuminated Arboretum light trail, and a range of activities to help visitors learn more about the stories behind the memorials.



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What will you learn from this podcast?

  • Their brand new augmented reality experience
  • Tips for other attractions thinking about investing in new technology
  • The Memorial Woodland being created in partnership with The National Forest to commemorate all the lives lost during the pandemic
  • What the results are in using augmented reality to their attraction

Mark’s tips for organisations that are thinking about investing in Augmented Reality technology:

I think it’s knowing what you want to get out of it first. We knew what we wanted to do with it before we went and engaged with something to deliver it. And, that meant that it was a very specific project scope when we went out to tender with it. 

So, I think authentic, know what you want, and explore the financial possibilities. It might be more within reach than perhaps people think it is.

All this technology is becoming more accessible all the time. So, there are opportunities out there.”

On Memorial Woodland:

“The woodland will be very poignant and very special, but we also want it to be a place of joy and hope as well. I’m very hopeful that it will be a woodland where there’ll be the opportunity to enjoy and have fun, and play, and celebrate as well.”

“We created characters and eight locations around the site where there’s a visual thing that you scan with your phone. One, two or three of the characters pop up and ask you to do an activity. Some of those are centred around the woodland. There’s one on wellbeing, like forest bathing and listening to the sounds around you. There’s some very much based on reflections at memorials.”

On Augmented Reality:

 “It’s probably not as expensive as perhaps people think. It didn’t cost much more. It does cost money, but it certainly wasn’t a bank breaker.”

“We’ve had positive feedback. People just saying, “It’s been great, the kids have loved it. It’s given us something to do.”

Listen to the podcast here



E42 What it really takes to launch a podcast. With Kelly Molson and Paul Griffiths

Paul Griffiths, Director of Painshill Park, is interviewing me.

Paul has had an illustrious career in the attraction sector, having been Head of Operations for the Mary Rose Museum, Head of Visitor Operations for the London Historic Properties at English Heritage, and a guest lecturer at Southampton Solent University in Contemporary Tourism.

Kelly Molson is the Co-Founder and Managing Director of Rubber Cheese. She’s the host of the Skip the Queue podcast, a podcast for visitor attractions professionals. She’s a champion of women in digital and is passionate about increasing the number of women agency owners in the UK. She founded Mob Happy, which is a series of not-for-profit events for women agency owners and runs intimate mastermind groups that support existing founders and inspire future leaders.


Kelly and Paul Skip the Queue


What will you learn from this podcast?

  • What it really takes to launch a podcast
  • Why we started Skip The Queue in the first place
  • Our top tips for anyone thinking about starting one
  • How did we come up with Rubber Cheese
  • How was inviting guests on the first few episodes and how it grows drastically to more real industry leaders coming on the show
  • How do you promote and gain more listeners on
  • What’s next with Skip the Queue

Kelly’s key tips  for anyone whose thinking about starting a podcast:

“Think about what your objectives are, who your audience is, where they are, what do they want, what does your audience want to listen to, what is going to be relevant to them right now.” 

“The podcast seemed like a natural way of getting that out to the public when they couldn’t visit the centre. Go right back, and think about what it is that you want to achieve by setting up this podcast.”

“From a marketing perspective, a podcast is a great thing to have, because it can position you right in the centre of that industry that you want to be part of.”

“We wanted to make the podcast as accessible as possible to everyone. Not everyone can listen to a podcast so we make sure that it’s transcribed so that people can read the podcast if they want to.”

Listen to the podcast here



E43 Season finale, with Bernard Donoghue!

Bernard Donoghue, CEO of ALVA. 

Bernard Donoghue is the Chief Executive of the Association of Leading Visitor Attractions (ALVA), the umbrella body for the UK’s most popular, important and iconic palaces, castles, museums, galleries, heritage sites, stately homes, cathedrals, churches, gardens, zoos and leisure attractions. 

ALVA is a powerful advocate for the sector to Government, the media and business; it organises events, benchmarking, training, commissions research and the sharing of best practices for members across marketing, visitor experience, fundraising, public engagement, security, education, retail and a variety of other areas.


ALVA Bernard Donoghue

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What will you learn from this podcast?

  • What the fast-approaching end of restrictions mean for attractions
  • How to balance digital engagement with an overseas audience
  • What these past 15 months have really been like for Bernard personally
  • How you can embrace and foster creative partnerships with different sectors

Key takeaways from Bernard on the podcast:

On what this fast-approaching end to restrictions mean for attractions:

“The longer we have social distancing measures and face mask use and mitigation measures in place, the longer it will take for the sector to recover. When we have businesses opening up one-third capacity, none of them is making a profit.”

“One of the great achievements of last year was the explosion in digital content and not just the amount of it but the diversity and the brilliance and the innovative use of digital. It’s just liberated a lot of organisations to take risks with their programming and their content and their decision making.” 

Bernard’s advice to visitor attractions:

“You and your visitors have to be the ultimate arbiter of the visitor experience. Take your lead from the public because they’re going to be the ultimate arbiters.”

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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