Wednesday, April 15, 2009

NZ conference post 2

What are my views about what NZ sector could be doing (and should not be doing) in a combined visitor research program?


  • focus on what you need to know, not what's nice to know
  • always ask – what will I actually do with this data, if the answer is nothing or I don't know then don't do it!
  • a smaller amount of research well, not a large amount superficially
  • develop a couple of really good statements about what people learn/do/attitudes and use them over a time period (ala the Creative NZ model)
  • maybe try self-complete or online surveys to save on costs?
  • a pilot study in year 1 – see where it's taking you
  • think carefully about what you want to get from a non-visitor study – is it worth sampling them? (not really IMHO)
  • embrace the tools of social media – go where the people are (Flickr, blogs, Facebook, YouTube, Twitter etc) as this is where real opinions are expressed, plus it's free!
  • use students (they are great) but think about how will the findings be integrated, accepted and used (this can also be the problem with using consultants – need an internal champion in the institution who will nag staff into using this stuff)
  • ask – what do we want to focus on? Numbers and/or visitor experiences, learning and impact? (probably both)


  • get bogged down in definitions
  • just measure the measurable – find out what's important, then work out how t measure that, it can be done
  • think about visitor research as a cost – think of it as an investment
  • try and be all things to all people – a couple of key indicators in your regular surveys will do
  • use SPSS...or any complex program thingo where you have to rely on someone else to provide the data (unless they're good and there's a genuine atmosphere of team work and sharing)
  • forget the power of qualitative data – this is where you get the rich stuff you can talk to politicians/funders about
  • expect that everyone supports museums – remember that us and our friends are not representative of the population, so what we like/do is not where everyone else is necessarily at (and usually are not!)
  • be boring

Here's some resources for you:


Angelina said...

Sounds like it was a great conference. I like the do's and don'ts. Interesting that there are many synergies between this list and Maxwell Anderson's plenary speech yesterday! One year pilots and clear objectives re: non-visitors very important points!

Lynda Kelly said...

Thanks for this. Are Maxwell's notes posted anywhere? I couldn't find them...

Gillian said...

Great do's and don'ts... you've hit the nail on the head. I'm all for practical and doable stuff that gets used.