The Usefulness of a Map in Your Guest Experiences – Lessons from a Pirate

As navigators on the seas, pirates are adept at using a chart containing a map of the ocean and coastline, usually with a distance scale and other clues on it. Additional information like water depths, location of hidden reefs, and direction of the current is often found on charts.

Then there’s maps – as in treasure maps. As discussed here, a pirate treasure map is often marked with all kinds of clues leading to the buried treasure – marked with an X.


Since a treasure map is very valuable, pirates go to great lengths in making a treasure map and keeping it safe. It’s not good enough to take an old piece of parchment and scribble a rough drawing on it. A treasure map worth its salt takes skill to create.

  • Since the art of drawing a map takes skill – if it’s going to be any use – a smart pirate will find a cartographer to draw up the map. By matching the skill of the cartographer and the cryptic clues that only the pirate can work out, the treasure map will provide the “key” to untold wealth, even long after the treasure has been buried and its location forgotten.
  • Making the map useful to find buried treasure is almost like a puzzle. You need to include enough clues to help you find the treasure, but you don’t want just anyone who might happen across the map to be able to make a beeline for the treasure. Natural (and curious) geographical features come in handy, as do bodies of water. If there are dangers along the path, those can be marked too – but don’t hide them too carefully – they can be used to make it more difficult to find the treasure.
  • Once the map is finished, the problem becomes keeping it hidden from curious eyes, but at the same time remaining relatively nearby, or at least someone easy to retrieve. Sometimes, the best hiding place is in plain sight.
  • Maps come in all shapes and sizes, and can be found on any surface that will allow writing and drawings – even tattoos!

As with many legends and lore about pirates, a treasure map is often a more fanciful part of an active imagination than a reality, but the idea of a map with clues and guidance directing the user along a path that results in finding something of value is instructive for anyone in Guest Experiences.

That’s right – a map can be very useful in Guest Experiences!

Journey maps are documents that visually illustrate the particular range of activities of a Guest over time. They can be simple or extremely detailed. Many journey maps plot the entire course of a Guest’s relationship with a church – all of the steps that Guests take as they discover, evaluate, attend, access, use, get support, and leave – or re-engage – the church. Others zoom in to just one particular part of the journey.

In our Guest Experience work at Auxano, we begin with a version of a simple journey map is called “The Seven Checkpoints.” We believe the first place to start is to imagine seven checkpoints for your guest. Think of the checkpoints as “gates” or even “hurdles” that any first time Guest must navigate to get from their comfy family room to your worship service.

These seven checkpoints can be plotted on a graph that illustrates how your Guest ministry is doing: is it simple, easy and obvious where your hospitality creates a WOW! or is it complex, confusing, and frustrating where your Guests cry out “Someone help me now?”

Here’s one such journey map – designed with a pirate in mind – of course!

At this point, a journey map can transition into an experience map, featuring touchpoints, actions, and processes as seen from primarily from the perspective of the Guest. The experience map helps an organization begin to look into the wide range of thoughts and emotions a Guest brings with them as they begin to interact with the organization.

A variation of a journey map and an experience map combining elements of both is the experience blueprint. Just as a product begins with an engineering blueprint and a building with an architectural blueprint, an experience blueprint provides the framework for working out every detail and nuance of a Guest Experience, including details of human interaction, physical space, wayfinding, encompassing the complete process from beginning to end.

Any particular difficulties created by your location, facility, or process should be viewed as hospitality opportunities. By providing a great solution to an obvious barrier, you enhance the WOW-factor of the hospitality. The use of journey maps, experience maps, and experience blueprints will help you identify, correct, and continually improve your Guest Experience.

Have you ever considered creating something like this for Guests coming to your church?

Previous post: X Marks the Spot – Lessons from a Pirate About Guest eXperience

This post is the third in a series of twelve, making the powerful connection between Guest Experiences and all things Pirates. It may seem a little strange, but I guarantee you won’t see a pirate flag, hear the word “ahoy,” or encounter any like number of references to “pirates” without connecting them to Guest Experiences!

inspired by Walt Disney and his amazing ability to bring a story to life on the screen and in person

brought to life by the Pirate Navigator

Now booking “voyages” to churches like yours! Contact me for more information.

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