An inspiring new visitor centre has opened in the Barossa Valley, providing a welcoming and informative introduction to the region that embodies the Barossa spirit.
The Barossa Council initiated the redevelopment of its existing centre in Tanunda with funding support from the Australian Government’s International Wine Tourism Competitive Grants Program, Barossa Grape and Wine Association and Tourism Barossa. The new centre is designed to be a place that inspires people to see and do more; builds curiosity and connections with the region; and services the needs of visitors today and in the future.
The new centre reflects the evolving role of visitor information centres in showcasing the character of a place, delivering information through storytelling and personal interactions, and acting as a bridge between visitors and the local community. It recognises the need for visitor centres to be more financially sustainable and to support the local business community in more innovative and beneficial ways.
Council’s Mayor, Bim Lange, said both the design and function of new centre will elevate the customer experience.
While the Barossa Visitor Centre is recognised as one of the best in the Australia, we want to keep evolving our offer. Our mission is to inspire our guests to stay longer, participate in more activities and invest more into our local region. The redevelopment has allowed us to create a more engaging and interactive visitor experience. – Mayor Lange
Wine Australia Grant
The grant provided strict parameters around deliverables and tight time frames. Studio S2 Architects worked closely with the Tourism Services Manager to ensure all targets were met and deliverables achieved.
Heritage Street Frontage
The importance of a good entrance to a tourism space cannot be underestimated. One of the most significant improvements to the space was to reengage the disused shop front entrance. Although this created a space with two entrances, and there can be security issues with stock in those situations, the second entrance proved to be an asset – providing the vital wheelchair access compliance, and provided options and better engagement with the Tanunda towns quare.
Signage can also be an issue with heritage buildings. In this case we worked with Barossa Council to understand the drivers behind the heritage listing and proposed a signage solution that both met the brief and heritage requirements.
One of the first VICs to harness change
VICs are increasingly under pressure to prove their relevance, and Barossa was one of the first to choose to take action. Removing traditional service points, and integrating brochure beside retail stock was a challenge for the client to grapple with.
The complexity of the situation was such that Barossa Council engaged Kiikstart, specialist VIC learning and development specialist.
Kiikstart had created strategy and support to re-think the visitor centre’s operations and approach to the customer experience. Their insights and forward thinking regarding customer service paved the way for this ground breaking change of approach for visitor servicing.
Visitor information centres are under pressure to evolve as information is increasingly obtained in digital format, but tourism is and always will be about bringing people to a place. The new Barossa Visitor Centre leaves visitors feeling more connected, with a desire and curiosity to visit other regional offerings – Director of Kiikstart, Ali Uren
Converting the street entrance into a successful shop front.
The shop front windows have also been fully utilised, providing an engaging and interesting face to the street as well as merchandising opportunities. The change of face also brings more locals through the door, as the space now has a distinctly retail essence, without being overtly ‘shop like’ or competing with the other retailers in the street.
Connecting with the Town Square
An old access point was identified in the existing building that had been built over in years past. We proposed openning up of the wall to discover that the old door was in excellent condition, and could be used as a level of security. Glazing and folding windows were also installed into the opening, and the space has allowed the VIC to run tastings and maker sessions from within the space into the town square.
Key features of the new centre include a video wall and lounge displaying new regional promotional footage; Barossa Makers Table to showcase pop-up winemakers, producers, artists and craftspeople; Barossa Wine Stories Room with touchscreen and displays; booking pods; ‘Barossa Made’ gift shop; 24/7 mobile device charge up facility; and improved flow and access.
The new spaces have been designed to create a welcoming place where visitors and locals want to spend time exploring and making unexpected discoveries. The focus was on representing the authentic Barossa spirit – warm and understated, historic and evolving, unexpected and extraordinary, and to immerse visitors in this throughout every aspect of their experience at the centre. It is now approachable and readable, it connects with the town square and provides opportunities for out-of-hours use, and is more accessible from the main street footpath.
After 3 months, the statistics tell the story:
• Sales results – in comparison to the previous year
August sales up 9%
September sales up 32%
October sales up 40%
Nov sales up 34%
• Increase in visitation to the centre
Aug enq down by 13% (August was very quiet in Barossa)
Sept Enq up by 41%
Oct Enq up by 11%
Nov Enq up by 30%
“The feedback we’ve received has been tremendously positive,” said Council’s Manager Tourism Services, Jo Seabrook. “Visitors are feeling a genuine connection with our region because of the way the centre has been designed.”