Art galleries and museums have historically relied on the quality of their exhibits and collections to attract visitors. But increasingly, more of them are adopting a customer service mindset characteristic of large businesses.
Part of this shift can be seen in the rapid adoption of museum visitor surveys that gather feedback about a visitor’s experience and their demographic characteristics — such as likes, dislikes, age, gender and income. Similar to how businesses use market research to sell a product, museums and galleries now use visitor surveys to improve their exhibits and collections and to strategize their outreach.
At one point in history museums and galleries considered their primary mandate to teach the public what they should know about art, culture and history. Yet today’s economic climate demands that galleries and museums become more responsive to visitor preferences and tastes. This means catering to what the public wants to know.
Below we’ve listed three important reasons why museum visitor surveys are a must-have marketing tool.
1. Capture visitor preferences and demographic data
Museum visitor surveys are a great tool to understand which exhibits and collections are the most popular and to gather demographic data — such as age, gender and income. As the demographics of a city change, so do the visitors of a museum or gallery. If your visitor survey shows there has been an increase in the number of seniors attending your gallery during weekdays, you may decide to showcase specific collections that appeal to people born in that era during weekdays. Or alternately, if your surveys show that most visitors find your main exhibit boring, you’ll likely want to start featuring a different exhibit.
2. Census research is insufficient
Census research conducted by government entities and arts councils won’t give you a clear picture of your visitor preferences. Census research is perfect for providing a snapshot of the overall demographic trends and shifts that are happening in your city or country. Are young people attending museums more often? Why are women choosing certain types of galleries over others?
However, census data lacks qualitative insights. It doesn’t tell you specific information about the likes and dislikes of your visitors. Did your visitors feel welcome from the moment they arrived? Were there specific exhibits they found boring or didn’t get enough information to enjoy? Were they too cold or hot while they walked the museum?
3. Enhance the visitor experience
Your visitor survey should be displayed on tablets to enhance the overall experience of your visitors. Data suggests that when visitors engage with digital technology it improves a museum or gallery’s reputation and increases attendance. You’ll need to invest in an easy in-person survey tool, like QuickTapSurvey.
Also consider having staff members direct visitors to the tablet surveys. Research shows that when visitors interact with staff members it significantly increases their overall satisfaction, improves value perceptions, and contributes to a more meaningful experience. Increasing numbers of museums are hiring staff whose job it is to make sure visitors have a pleasant time. These staff members welcome visitors as they walk in the door and are available to answer questions or provide directions.
Can you think of other reasons why museums and galleries should use visitor surveys? Share them in the comments below. We’d love to hear from you.