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:
- Measuring impact – some online resources
- What do visitors want when visiting a museum?
- What do visitors do when visiting a museum?
- Museums galleries NSW Audience Development Study and Australia Council reference
- Evaluation and Visitor Research Special Interest group Profiling Your Visitors project
- Australian Museum's All About Evil exhibition blog and Facebook – an example of innovative (and cheap!) audience research
- Museum 3.0 – a social network of museum professionals and a great resource for information and networking. Please join us...