This week, after years of thinking about making a career move into museums, and two years of intense graduate study, I begin my museum career. I couldn’t be more excited!
This is an exceptional time to begin working in museums. Our field has recognized that in the 21st century it is the visitor that is at the center of museum activity. However, in many ways museums are still adapting to this shift.
Understanding visitors and meeting their needs is not easy. It’s also work that never ends. As the demographics of our society changes, as new communication methods are created, and as we continue to refine our own practice of serving visitors, we must continually change and adapt.
My museum career begins as a Guest Experience Manager. I’ve noticed that many museums are starting to create roles around the guest or visitor experience, and I think this is an important development. If our field is serious about serving visitors then we need someone in each of our institutions who is responsible for managing and refining the visitor experience.
All museum professionals and staff—guards, curators, educators, directors, human resources managers—should have the visitor experience top of mind. However, putting someone in charge of the visitor experience helps the museum coordinate its efforts and resources to create a seamless experience.
Positive experiences at the museum promote return visits; the cultivation of visitors into members and possibly donors; and encourage positive word-of-mouth marketing. Thanks to the internet, we live in a world in which we can all be reviewers and have the ability to see what other people think of their experience before we try it out ourselves.
Gone are the days when we rely on this information only from family or friends. Before I travel for leisure, I always check websites where people review hotels, restaurants, and places to visit. I don’t know any of the people whose reviews I read and yet I trust their opinion and make choices based off what they’ve said.
We place much trust in those who do not have a stake in the marketing of a service or product because we perceive that the person giving us their opinion is unbiased.
This is ultimately why a visitor or guest experience manager is so important. When people have good experiences at our museums, they will become our advocates and tell others. It helps us advance our mission by giving us the potential to reach more people.
What people are saying about your museum to others is one of the most important indicators of whether or not your museum is successful. A visitor or guest experience manager can focus on creating outstanding experiences and maintaining a high level of visitor satisfaction. This work is bound to have a positive impact on the museum.
What are people saying about the experience at your museum?
Image credit: 212 Media Studios