Spend Time Understanding Your Visitors and Visitor Prospects

When it comes to understanding visitors, I concur with these words by B. L. Driver and his associates and quoted by Dr. John Falk in one of his many outstanding books, Identity and the Museum Visitor Experience.

“…The leisure experience should not be viewed merely as an activity, such as hiking, fishing, camping or shopping (museum going) but rather ‘should be conceptualized as a psychological experience that is self- rewarding, occurs during nonobligated free time, and is the result of free choice.”

Here is the starting point for engaging, servicing, and caring about your leisure visitors and those who are prospects for attending.

What do we think of the visitors – those we want to “touch,” “educate,” “enlighten,” and “inspire?”

People visit our museums, gardens, historic homes, science centers, nature centers and other places of informal learning to do something worthwhile – to learn, yes, but also to be social and to have fun. Much research has been done on leisure time activities, including visits to museums, botanical gardens, zoos, and similar sites. Have you taken a look at these?

What is your organization doing to connect to your visitors? How much do you understand them?

I once had a curator accuse me of being too “Madison Avenue.” He said that marketing and visitor research are the “tails wagging the dogs.” And, in the past week, I had an interpreter tell me that “they don’t want to be too Disney.”

If your attendance is not what you want it to be, have you considered the visitor and not only the exhibit or program? Have you learned what is desired, what needs they have and what makes them happy when they experience your destination? (Sometimes a small thing goes a long way.) What is your competition for their time? (You will probably be surprised.)

Marketing starts with a product and in the business world. Few products are launched without knowing the prospective customer. While we can’t be experts on everything related to visitor research, there are many resources that can, at the least, provide input to decision-making. And of course, to build upon that research, you can conduct your own studies with your own customers.

For an objective, informed review of your overall visitor experience and services please give me a call or email me here.

I look forward to speaking with you!

Jan McKay

Tuesday, November 27th, 2018 Uncategorized

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