Jacqueline L. Evans
Signs play an important part in our everyday lives, but they also play an important role in the development of a good heritage tourism profile which is often overlooked. Heritage Tourism Development by QUIE© recommends signage in four general categories and each has equal importance: Directional Signage©, Interpretational Signage©, Progressional Signage© and Apologetic Signage©.
Let’s talk about Progressional Signage©:
One of the most negative things a community can do to is to allow the ugliness of renovation or construction to be seen. For all visitors know, it’s a site that has been forgotten or neglected.
Locals residents usually know what is taking place in their community and how long they will have to endure it by information in the local newspaper or word of mouth but visitors are not usually privy to these things and must form opinions based on what they see – which is often negative.
Every day, money is spent repairing and renovating sites but very little is spent removing the debris of leftover construction materials. Construction companies do not view their projects as visitors do because their goal is only to build and complete the project. Tourists, on the other hand, clearly see the very ugly - all day, every day while the project is in progress.
But wait! There is a solution. One of most positive ways a community can soften the ugliness and market construction and/or renovation projects is with Progressional Signage©.
Rather than allow eyesores be eye catchers, Progressional Signage© can create eye pleasers by turning unsightly areas into positive images with information and timelines explaining what is taking place and the stages of progression. Contractors can work hand in hand with the community to soften rough images with Progressional Signage©.
So, what are we talking about and who should be responsible?
Communities should begin protecting their turf by determining a benchmark of what is visually acceptable and what is not when sites are under construction.
For example, you’ve seen convenience stores build generic structures in many communities but are requested to be architecturally compliant when building in a visually-protected district. Guess what? They comply and you have every right to expect the same. You must declare ownership of your visual image and establish a benchmark protecting your image.
As part of the construction process, developers and preservationists should develop a mandate requiring two very quick and economical methods to soften the view of construction sites as the project progresses.
The first step is to erect decorative fencing serving as a visual barrier between the debris and tourist. I repeat: decorative – not a flat 1x12 out of plywood braced up by posts.
It is not practical, or even necessary, to expect the debris to be completely concealed from view since it’s no surprise that construction is taking place. But by creating partial fencing, a visual and psychological barrier can take an eyesore and turn it into an experience - an informational experience.
A brief explanation of what is taking place and the timeframe for completion can quickly turn a negative image into a positive picture or visitors. Such information not only creates excitement within the community but lures visitors back to see each stage of progress.
Besides generating lucrative revenue from visitors, there are other positive benefits for the community. Progressional Signage© helps keep projects on task by keeping the timeline in front of the community, rewards and encourages tax-payer support and creates goodwill and pride in the community. A project under construction WITH Progressional Signage© will become a positive community attraction and conversation piece rather than a negative construction eyesore. Tourists see many deteriorating historic districts across the US and always appreciate a progressive community making strides to improve its image.
What can you do to turn YOUR eyesores into eye pleasers?
Change the tourists’ visual perception of your community with these very simple benchmarks.
Who is going to establish these guidelines to protect your image – historic or otherwise?
Every generation needs a hero in community pride. Let it be you. You’ll be surprised to find how exciting and contagious it can be.
We’ve all toured guests around our communities highlighting progress made,
and it’s not unusual for visitors to yearn for the same and become citizens.