Village News (October 26, 2017)
By Matt Wieler, Board Member
Within the last ten to fifteen years, the internet has created a revolutionary public service: Online reviews. Individuals are encouraged to evaluate a product, service, or venue which they have personally experienced and then share their evaluation for the benefit of other potential consumers. Today, people are craving authentic, unbiased and non-commercialized input from their peers.
For this article, I will specifically address venue reviews. Visitors to any venue want to find the best experience possible, and they want to visit “cool” places or experience “cool” things. Visitors want to know what to expect and how to enhance their experience, based on the information others have reported after attending. Comments sometimes include things the reviewer wished they had done when they were experiencing the venue, or how their experience could have been better while they were there.
Some established organizations see online reviews as an extremely scary situation, due to their inability to influence the content of what people are saying about their venue online. The fear of being vulnerable, by allowing people to judge you openly, isn’t a comfortable feeling to most of us.
But fear not; the formula is simple. If you are truly an attractive organization, people will leave commentary stating that, and you will continue attracting people. If you are not attractive, people will be very quick to critically state your shortfalls. So organizations are left with a choice: Become vulnerable to constructive criticism and use it to enhance and grow your organization, or reject it and press the mute button and bury your head in the sand.
I’m pleased to see our Mennonite Heritage Village (MHV) staff embracing reviews, allowing our visitors to speak about MHV from their personal perspective and to share their experience with others. You can find these reviews online, primarily in these mainstream media: TripAdvisor, Facebook, and Google Reviews. Here are a few samples:
TripAdvisor: (101 Reviews) MHV scores 4.5 out of 5.
MHV is ranked the #1 “thing to do” in Steinbach & regionally. Not surprising. But when the review scope is expanded to see Manitoba’s top “things to do” provincially, it is startling to see that MHV is ranked #22, ahead of the Bell MTS Centre (#27) and Manitoba Children’s Museum (#32). (Personally I would have expected to see the Winnipeg Jets experience ranked higher.)
Reviewer – Amanda R (July 2017) rates MHV 5 out of 5.
“Great day trip for families. We were very impressed with how the village was organized and thought it was very well kept. People are very friendly and helpful. Great day trip with our toddler who loved running around and exploring.
Facebook: (138 Reviews) MHV scores 4.5 out of 5.
Irene Stadke (July 2017) rated MHV 5 out of 5.
We are glad we decided to stop by here on our way out of Canada. Great village, museum and restaurant. Interesting history to learn about. I highly recommend this place.
Google Reviews: (76 Reviews) MHV scores 4.4 out of 5.
Scott (Oct 2017) rated MHV 5 out of 5.
“I have always wanted to live history ever since I was a kid. I had gone here on a whim in the summer of 2017 and it was just like I remember it as a kid! I loved it so much I offered to volunteer. They put me in the printing press and I spent the day operating a 100 year old cast iron printer.
“The best part about the village is that they actually use and maintain the machines for demonstration! Much better than seeing them in a building behind glass.”
I encourage you to go online and read for yourself what people have been saying about MHV, and maybe even leave your own review while you’re reading others’. I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised by the outside perspective of a brand-new visitor experiencing us for the first time.