Browsing Buxton Centre for Contemporary Hospitality by Subjects
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Mobilising the domeMore and more public and private tourism organisations are putting an emphasis on the creation of ‘memorable tourist experiences’ (Bærenholdt and Michael Haldrup, 2004; O’Dell, 2007 and Ennen and Van Maanen, 2013). It is now commonly accepted that technology plays a vital role in communication and interpretation and altogether in achieving this outcome, supporting tourism growth and instigating innovative responses to competition for tourist attraction (Neuhofer, Buhalis and Ladkin, 2012). This paper discusses how technology can be used to mobilise and reconceptualise a contested heritage space, focusing on an ongoing research project aimed at developing audio tours at the Devonshire Dome: a Grade II* listed building and iconic tourism landmark that dominates the Buxton 44 townscape (Sheller and Urry, 2006 and Haldrup and Larsen, 2006). Aimed at first-time visitor to Buxton, the exploration of the Dome encourages visitors to use the building under the terms and conditions of the Heritage Lottery Funds received in 2000. The terms of the HLF grant were that the building be made available to visitors and the community in perpetuity. The audio tours takes the visitors on a journey through time showcasing the building from a grand stable block; to a well-respected ‘hydropathic’ hospital before being given a new lease of life as a University campus. Preliminary findings, collected through a series of qualitative research interventions with visitors to the Dome and University stakeholders highlight the potential technology has to enable three competing heritage narratives of place to coexist simultaneously thus developing and reconfiguring people’s relationship with the place and the range of stakeholders involved in the delivery of the tourism product. The research contributes to the existing body of knowledge that aims to develop a comprehensive understanding of how technology can be used at heritage sites as both a key driver of change in helping to create and develop memorable experiences, redrafting visitor’s relationship with space and maximising effectiveness.