Museums are always popular destinations, promising to usher visitors into new, enriching, and novel experiences. But while you may be focused on installing the latest technologies to keep visitor numbers up at your museum — and that certainly has its place — there’s really one simple approach to improve the museum visitor experience across the board: using people counting systems to understand visitor behavior and make improvements where necessary.
Who Are Your Visitors? Knowledge Is Everything
Do you know the types of visitors coming through your museums doors? While it might be easy to assume that all visitors have the same objectives for their trip to the museum, it’s important to realize that different visitors have different motivations. According to Dr. John H. Falk’s, “Understanding Museum Visitors’ Motivations and Learning,” there are five kinds of museum visitors.
- Explorers: These visitors are curious first and foremost, seeking to find just the right content to catch their interest and unlock their thirst for learning.
- Facilitators: As the name implies, this group tends to enable the museum visitor experience for others, e.g., a teacher leading a classroom of students or a father shepherding his children.
- Professional/hobbyists: Already well versed on a particular topic, these visitors are seeking to deepen their knowledge in an area of prime interest, such as a history teacher researching an ancient civilization.
- Experience seekers: These visitors are “destination-driven,” keenly aware of your museum as an experience to cross off their lists of important things to do.
- Rechargers: Seeking a sanctuary from the busyness of modern life, these visitors are looking for a quiet reprieve from their hectic schedules.
People counting systems can help you gain a deeper understanding of who your visitors are by their behaviors. Are large groups moving from exhibit to exhibit together? Are individuals heading to particular areas and lingering there for research? This data can help you create the museum visitor experiences they are looking for.
Winning Exhibitions: Identifying What Works and Where You Can Improve
How do you know if an exhibition was a smashing success or a disappointing dud? People counting systems can tally your visitors so you know how much traffic each of your exhibitions, and especially your special or visiting exhibitions, draws. People counters are more reliable than manual counts and can help you to plan future exhibitions by looking at concrete data on the types of exhibitions that have attracted large crowds in the past, improving the museum visitor experience for your regulars as well as your casual attenders.
Go With the Flow
Once through your doors, where do your visitors go? People counters deliver valuable insights about which areas of your museum feature the highest and lowest traffic, enabling you to re-envision your building and exhibition layout if necessary. Consider ways to redirect attendees so that traffic flows smoothly and perhaps even guide individuals to underexposed areas of your facility, ensuring a better museum visitor experience for all.
Eliminate under- and overstaffing with data gleaned from your people counting system. Provide a stellar museum visitor experience for all of your guests by having just the right number of staff, security guards, and docents on hand to serve during your busiest and slowest periods. With people counting data, you can anticipate future demand as well. For example, if your exhibition on rare jewels last summer drew blockbuster crowds, you might want to have extra staff manning the museum for the temporary exhibition of South American gold treasures you’re launching this weekend.
What makes a great museum experience? Ask your visitors that question, and they’ll probably rattle off any number of neat things they learned, saw, or experienced within your four walls. Keep them focused on those awe-inspiring moments by doing your part behind the scenes: leveraging people counting data to elevate the museum visitor experience.