The Importance of Visitor Experience Strategy

Why do you need a visitor experience strategy?

Customer Experience is something on which the “for-profit” world focuses real money. After all, there is an obvious return on investment. You get what your customer wants; you give it to them; you make more money.

But, in non-profit, this is a much more challenging equation.  In museums, for example, you provide services for free. Yet, these services cost money. Museums, while charitable, are basically businesses. You raise money to make your mission come to fruition. Funders usually have expectations. The money raised is often predicated on a certain number of people attending.  You still need to give the customer what you want in order to make money, but the money comes from many sources.  In other words, increasing visitor experience will increase money, even if the source of those funds are complicated.

What is a Visitor Experience Strategy?

A visitor experience strategy is an encompassing plan that signals to the whole organization how patrons should experience your space. This plan should serve as a foundation for any part of your organization that touches your visitor (likely all of it).

Where do you start?

With you.  Seems odd, since we are thinking about visitors, I realize. But, in this case, you need to get down some of your own ideas.

  • How often does your organization think about your visitors as a customer?
  • What do you believe your visitor is thinking?
  • What do you think your visitor wants?

Keep these issues in mind. You will want to come back to them later to see if you assumptions hold up.

How do you create a Visitor Experience Strategy?

A strategy is a way of saying that you are creating a plan of action, a road map, and some rules when something confounds your plan or map. Here are some steps to help you form a visitor experience strategy.

  1. Measure Twice, Plan once: You want to understand visitors. But, you need to attack this problem many different ways. Think of it this way. When you really want to learn a subject, you learn by reading, studying, writing, finding new sources…. Surveys are just one way to get to know them. Create a diversified means of getting to know your visitors.
  2. Keep at it: You will want to come back to your plan periodically during your planning period. As you are planning, you should test parts. When things work, note that. But, when they don’t,  adapt your plan.
  3. Make Your Plan Like Bamboo: Chinese scholars are often symbolized by bamboo, flexible to bend but not break in the wind. Keep that image in your mind as you create a plan. Your plan should be able to take some challenges but not break.
  4. Measure the Experience, not just the ideas: Visitors come to museums for experiences. So, focus on that. Think about the experience and the desired outcome for the visitor.
  5. Be about Your Visitors: Really try to imagine the experience from your visitors. Map it out. Become familiar with their current experience, and then develop a plan that moves you to your ideal experience.








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