World Premiere Movie: The 2014 IAAPA Expo...In Two Minutes or Less!

November 26, 2014

This year's International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions Expo welcomed 30,500 attendees, making it the largest Expo in 17 years and the third largest in IAAPA's history.

To celebrate, we produced "The 2014 IAAPA...Expo in Two Minutes or Less," a raw, light-hearted look at the spirit of the Expo - one of our favorite weeks of the year.  We aspire to create this whimsical video annually, and hope you enjoy this world premiere (including a few cameos)!

From all of us to all celebrating, we wish you a very Happy Thanksgiving. 

Tags: JRA Journeys , JRA Team , Project Spotlight

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Conference World Tour 2014: Thinking BIG at IAAPA

November 13, 2014

Next week, over 27,000 industry professionals will converge at Orlando, Florida’s Orange County Convention Center (OCCC) for the 96th Annual International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions (IAAPA) Expo. Over five days, attendees from 40 countries will stroll nine miles of expo floor aisles (540,000 square feet of space), attend 80 educational sessions and 23 exclusive tours, and enjoy networking mixers at the OCCC, Walt Disney World Resort and Universal Orlando. This year’s theme is “Big Starts Here”, an appropriate moniker given the gradual rebound of the industry following the Great Recession and the current trend toward re-investment and re-invigoration in both attractions and cultural facilities.

JRA team members will be sharing big ideas with IAAPA participants throughout the Expo via two separate panel sesssions. The week begins with IAAPA’s annual Museum Day, which offers a day of presentations particularly relevant to museums and science centers, followed by an evening networking reception. For the third year in a row, JRA’s Shawn McCoy will present on the latest visitor experience trends and how the cultural sector can benefit from them. This year, Shawn will explore how today’s museums can better connect with their audience by breaking down barriers. Through a series of fast-paced case studies, Shawn will provide examples of how new exhibits, programs and technologies are being used to blur the lines between curators and the public, are redefining the space in which museums live and are helping foster deeper communication between cultural institutions and underserved audiences.

Shawn McCoy speaking at the 2014 Asian Attractions Show.  Image Courtesy Blooloop.

On Thursday, JRA’s Clara Rice will participate on the panel “TEA Presents Future Legends: Transforming Experience”, alongside Nickelodeon’s John Paul Guerts, Rhetroactive’s Steve Trowbridge, and BRC Imagination Arts’ Christian Lachel. Panelists will explore topics such as wearable technology, 3D printed worlds, and how the very nature of design is changing to meet the desires of a new generation of visitors. Each panelist will have three-and-a-half minutes to speak on each of three topics, and Rice will be exploring the future of interactive media, the rise of the telepresence robot, and the growing demand for ultra-luxe VIP theme park experiences. Through these rapid-fire mini-presentations, audiences will discover how the attractions industry is responding to the challenges and opportunities of the latest technologies and trends.

Clara Rice speaking at Carnegie Mellon's Entertainment Technology Center.

Of course, you can also visit the JRA team at Booth 1354, and, as always, JRA will have seemingly round-the-clock coverage of IAAPA on the JRA+blog, our Facebook and LinkedIn pages, and our Twitter feed. We’ll also have a special surprise for our readers the Tuesday following IAAPA, so be sure to stay tuned, and we’ll see you in Orlando!

Tags: JRA Journeys , JRA Team , Outside the Studio

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Conference World Tour 2014: Retail on the Riviera

November 05, 2014

Image courtesy MAPIC

Image courtesy MAPIC

From November 19-21, international retailers, property developers and consultants will converge in picturesque Cannes, France for at the 20th annual MAPIC conference. MAPIC, which, for those up on their French, stands for Le marché international professionnel de l’implantation commerciale et de la distribution, is dubbed the “world’s leading retail real estate market”. Over three days, participants will enjoy an exhibition hall in Cannes’ Palais des Festivals, over 25 conference sessions and a variety of networking events.

MAPIC was originally launched in Cannes in 1995 by Reed MIDEM, a global leader in the organization of international professional conferences and events. That first conference welcomed 1,064 participants, 221 retailers and 3,600 companies from 69 countries. This year’s Cannes edition will welcome over 8,300 participants, including 2,300 developers, 2,400 retailers and 1,400 represented brands, from Apple to Gap to Marks and Spencer. These attendees will arrive from 67 countries covering five continents to identify new trends, new products and new partnerships.

Educational opportunities will abound at MAPIC. They include an Innovation Forum, where participants learn best practices for their retail spaces, and a Digital Summit, where 60 industry thought leaders will discuss the rapidly growing arena of digital commerce. Conference sessions will cover such topics as doing business in the emerging markets of Russia, Turkey and Africa; creating partnerships with chambers of commerce; pitching shopping center projects and retail concepts; navigating e-commerce; and leveraging analytics. One area of the exhibit hall will offer a dedicated “retailtainment” zone, where experts will discuss the emergence of this dynamic fusion of shopping and entertainment, while developers pitch their latest retail-based attractions.

In addition to the exhibition hall and conference sessions, MAPIC offers an array of dynamic matchmaking and networking events. In “Speed Matchings”, developers, retailers, franchisees and investors engage in a series of ten specially tailored, three-minute face-to-face meetings, structured to provide rapid-fire connectivity and promote deal making. At the pitching sessions, five different retailers and developers each have seven minutes to pitch their product or opportunity to the audience, showcasing their work in front of potential investors. But the activity doesn’t end when the sun goes down. MAPIC kicks off with a high-profile cocktail reception at the Majestic Hotel and closes with a special 20th anniversary fireworks display over Cannes’ famous Boulevard de la Croisette, followed by the MAPIC Party, a high-energy social and networking event. Whether in the Palais exhibit hall or over cocktails at the Majestic, retailers from all over the world will have ample opportunities to meet and greet.

And JRA is excited to be meeting and greeting at MAPIC for the first time! Team members Rob Morgan and Dana Everhart will be covering the event for the JRA+blog, so stay tuned later this month for their full report. In the meantime, check out the MAPIC preview video below, as well as this article from our friends at Blooloop.

Tags: JRA Journeys

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Fun Foto Friday: Happy Halloween from JRA!

October 31, 2014

From everyone at JRA, we wish you a boo-tiful and spooktacular Halloween!

L to R - Clara Rice (aka Bruce Jenner), Dan Schultz, Chloe Hausfeld, Colin Cronin, Dana Everhart, Teresa Johns, Irene Musgrive and Josh Schwartz



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Learning Through Side Doors: Redefining the Transit Experience

October 29, 2014

Design of Cincinnati streetcar vehicle.  The streetcar will begin operating in 2016 and will stop less than a block from JRA's offices.

Design of Cincinnati streetcar vehicle. The streetcar will begin operating in 2016 and will stop less than a block from JRA's offices.

Welcome to Part Two of our "Learning Through Side Doors" blog series, in which we investigate experiential design outside of "themed entertainment".  Today, we're discussing public transit experiences with local Cincinnati transit enthusiasts, John Schneider and Bradley Thomas.  John is a local property developer and considered the father of the Cincinnati streetcar project He has led various civic and political leaders on 32 separate tours of Portland, Oregon's expansive bus/rail transit system. Brad is a practicing attorney and a member of the Board of Trustees of the Southwest Ohio Regional Transit Authority (SORTA).

CR: What constitutes a good guest experience from a transit perspective?

BT: A good guest experience is one where the trip is seamless. They know where they are going and how to get there, and everything from buying the ticket or knowing where to board is obvious or intuitive. Good station design, way-finding and reliable service all contribute to a great guest experience. Reliable service is critical. If a trip is late, the guest may be late to work or miss a connection.

JS: On the bus or train, there needs to be common courtesy for everyone to have the best esperience - yield your seat to someone who is less able, don't put your wet umbrella on the seat, never, ever eat anything and only drink if you're on the smoothest-running train so you don't spill on your seat mate. The transit agency and its customers are in this together.

Cincinnati's new Metro Plus line connects major entertainment, employment and education zones. Photo:

 CR: How does technology play into that overall experience, extending the experience to the time the person buys a ticket to after they step off at their destination?

BT: Technology is great for attracting new riders to the system. Bus schedules can be confusing and if your system doesn't offer service that's so frequent you never need a schedule (i.e. NYC subway); then you will need to easily communicate how to get from point A to point B. Google Maps, and many other apps, go a great job of letting you point to a spot on the map and showing a variety of transit options to get there. Some even let you prioritize different elements of the trip--speed, cost, least amount of walking.

New Orleans transit app. Source: Silicon Bayou News

JS: Several ways, starting with trip planning. Some of the more developed U.S. transit systems have apps that work like other travel apps - put in your origin and destination and day and time of travel and let it plot a route for you. The best of them give you real-time departure and arrival information including advisories such as accidents that may slow the journey.

Real-time bus or train arrival at stops is gradually being adopted, but it is very expensive (even a medium-size city like Cincinnati has thousands of bus stops). This values the time of the customer rather than just making the customer think, "Hey, when we get there, you'll know." If your bus or train is running late, and you are so informed, you may be able to use the otherwise wasted time to get a cup of coffeer, open a spreadsheet or return a library book. Announcement of stops and intersecting transit lines is also very important, especially to the novice.

Being able to pay without cash is important, and just about every major transit system offers this now. Many now have stored-value cards, which don't require you to send-away or appear in person to buy a pass - you just load like you'd load a debit card. Some of these can be deployed across the board for all kinds of personal mobility. Some of the dreamers in the business would like to extend these cashless payment systems to bike rentals, Uber, even taxis.

CR: To what degree does the route play a part? In Cincinnati, streetcar developers chose to place the line in an under-developed area to boost development, but other cities have chosen to place rail or bus lines where there is already high demand. What are the pros and cons of each from an experience perspective?

BT: You want a mixture of both existing demand and development opportunity. An ideal route would link a demand driver on each end with underutilized land in between.

JS: It depends what the objective is. If it's repopulation, then you probably want the route to connect important destinations such as employment centers, entertainment, and shopping with underdeveloped areas. In cities trying to rejuvenate their cores - cities like Detroit, Cincinnati and Kansas City - this is objective, and these cities are going the modern streetcar route.

If you have a well-developed and highly congested city - Los Angeles, Washington and Seattle come to mind here - you're probably less concerned with attracting new residents than with moving the ones who are already there. These cities are opting for rail systems that run in separate lanes, have higher speeds and high-capacity trains. But on a micro-scale, each of these cities is also building streetcars in opportunity-rich neighborhoods.


Cincinnati Streetcar route. Source: City of Cincinnati

CR: In your travels, what have been some of the best transit experiences you've had and why?

JS: I was in Minneapolis/St. Paul recently, and I was blown-away by how excellent its system is. There are two light rail lines, one of them connecting the airport with downtown Minneapolis. This line shares a short section of track with another line that connects Minneapolis with St. Paul. And each of these lines will be extended, giving the Twin Cities two long routes that essentially criss-cross the region.

MSP light rail is extremely easy to use, and the vehicles are immaculate. They call out the intersecting bus lines at each rail stop. And the line to the airport is pretty fast, probably faster than driving and parking. And certainly cheaper.

But MSP is not stopping with light rail and buses. They are planning a modern streetcar on Nicollet Avenue, the retail/office/hotel spine of the city, and the bike share program is region-wide. Minneapolis has many bike trails that are separated from traffic, and it is regarded as one of the best biking cities in the nation with a high percentage of bike commuters - yes, even in below-zero weather. No hills, though.


Minneapolis Light Rail. Photo:

CR: What are the challenges to creating a great transit experience?

JS: One - customer familiarity with really excellent public transportation in benchmark cities they visit, which leads to ...

Two - taxpayers' willingness to pay the cost of building and maintaining great public transportation.

Three: political leadership that is willing to set in motion plans for best-in-class public transportation which probably won't start operating until they leave office - hence, high political cost, little political benefit. That is why you need great champions and why the United States trails much of the world in having these systems.

BT: The biggest problems are bureaucratic inertia (we've always done it this way so we'll keep doing it this way) and funding. The fundamental issue is that transit creates positive externalities, but can't recapture their value; while cars create negative externalities but the drivers don't have to pay for them. If automobiles were forced to pay the true cost of air pollution, roadway maintenance, and congestion, there'd be a lot more transit users and healthier communities. 

A rider checks out "Cincy Red Bike", Cincinnati's new bike share program. Photo: CityBeat

Tags: Blog N Learn

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