Creating a Signature Experience in Your Tourism Business: The Role of Building Design

Creating a signature experience is essential for distinguishing your business and leaving a lasting impression on your guests. A signature experience is more than just a service; it’s a unique and memorable aspect that defines your brand and resonates deeply with visitors. One of the critical elements in crafting such an experience is the design of your buildings, which plays a pivotal role in setting the stage for an unforgettable visit.

Fit for Purpose

Every building within your tourism business must serve its intended function effectively. This means that accommodations should provide comfort and convenience, dining areas should facilitate a pleasant culinary experience, and any other facilities should enhance the overall stay of your guests. The functionality of these spaces is paramount, as it directly impacts the satisfaction and comfort of your visitors.

First Impressions Matter

The exterior and entryway of your buildings are the first points of contact with your guests. They set the expectations for the quality and style of the experience to come. An accessible and welcoming entryway not only ensures compliance with regulations but also conveys a sense of openness and hospitality. The architecture and landscaping should reflect the unique character of your business and invite guests to step into a world that promises an experience that is aligned with your brand.

Branded Interiors

Once inside, the interior design becomes the silent ambassador of your brand. It should tell a story that aligns with your business’s theme and values. From the colour palette to the furniture selection, every detail contributes to the narrative you want to convey. A branded interior creates a cohesive experience that can reinforce your business’s identity and leave a strong, memorable impression.

Sustainable and Inclusive Design

Incorporating sustainable practices into building design is not only environmentally responsible but also increasingly important to today’s eco-conscious travellers. Additionally, ensuring that your facilities are inclusive and accessible to all guests, regardless of physical ability, is not just a legal imperative but a moral one as well, reflecting the inclusive nature of your brand.

Tell a Unique Story

Firstly, identify what makes your tourism business unique. What can you offer that no one else can? What are your stories? These could be a particular aspect of your location, local culture, or a unique way of exploring the area. It could also be a unique aspect to your business or brand such as a distinctive creative or manufacturing process, or your company history.

Leveraging a compelling story can turn a simple activity into a signature experience. Share the history, myths, or legends associated with your location. Engage your guests with storytelling that connects them emotionally to the place and the experience.

Set the scene by putting guests into an environment that stimulates their imagination and captures the essence of your story. Telling a story about the struggles overcome in the history of your business or place from an underground cellar or the ruin of an original homestead has a quite different impact when compared with telling it inside a modern environment.

Black Elephant Vintners in South Africa have one of the most memorable storytelling experiences we have come across. Check out their music and wine pairing events for inspiration.

Another great example is the Sovreign Hill Aura and Light Spectacular, where light and sound is embedded on the gold fields of Ballarat.

Tourism Australia’s Signature Experiences program showcases world-class Australian tourism experiences that cater to specific interests, such as wineries, luxury lodges, and Aboriginal guided experiences. These examples could serve as a starting point to your thinking, but we suggest you look outside the box and get clear on what makes you ‘you’, so that the experience you create is truly signature and unique.

Design with the Customer in Mind

Experience design is all about creating an offering that not only meets but exceeds the expectations of your guests. For your target market, think about their physical needs such as access, comfort and safety as these things can be easily accommodated in a purposefully designed building. Also consider the kinds of experiences that resonate with their needs on an emotional, spiritual and values level and the reasons for why they are travelling – what facilities and services could you provide for wellness travel, how could a family tracing its lineage feel engaged and connected with your place?

Consider the transformational travel trend, where travellers seek experiences that enrich and transform them. Tourism and Events Queensland provides resources like the Ultimate Transformational Experience Guide to help businesses design experiences that resonate with today’s consumers.

Ensure Exclusivity and Personalisation

Signature experiences often involve exclusivity and a personal touch. They are typically tailored to a small group of travellers to ensure a more intimate experience. This could mean private tours, personalised itineraries, or exclusive access to certain areas or events.

Exclusivity means being deliberate with your spaces. Intimacy is balanced with generosity of space. Reserved access to certain areas means thinking through commercial, staffing and safety realities of those areas.


The design of your buildings is a crucial component of your signature experience. It’s an investment that goes beyond aesthetics, encompassing functionality, sustainability, and inclusivity. By focusing on these aspects, you can create spaces that not only meet the needs of your guests but also exceed their expectations, making your tourism business a destination of choice for discerning travellers seeking unique and authentic experiences. Remember, in the realm of tourism, the space you create is the experience you offer.

Looking for inspiration, and ideas for what would be a natural extension of what you do? Chat with our team about how our design process can help you uncover your uniqueness and establish decision making priorities for a successful building design that helps you create your signature experience.


For most tourism businesses, working on your buildings and grounds is a big deal. There is a lot of money and time at stake and can be difficult to know where to start. So let’s just start with a coffee.