Learning about visitor studies

I am keen to share my thoughts and reflections on an excellent conference I was lucky to attend recently.  This was the Visitor Studies Group event ‘Audience Segmentation: Identifying and understanding your visitors’ at the V&A in London on 29th January.  

I am guessing that many of those reading this are in the business of service provision in some way, just as MGS is.  So why do we tend to shy away from doing some of the things that help us better understand why people do – or don’t – want that service?  Is it a fear of data and statistics? Or is it because the traditional ways of categorising users into types doesn’t translate into anything useable on a day-to-day basis?

 The VSG conference was all about categorising, or ‘segmenting’ audiences based on motivation not typecasting.  I found this both refreshing and completely common sense. 

The conference showcased different theories, methodologies and applications which together made a compelling case for segmenting based on motivation. Case studies from the USA, British Museum, National Trust and BBC demonstrated the methodology isn’t rocket science, it doesn’t have to cost a mint and once armed with these new insights, little things could be changed that had major impacts on service quality and visitors’ overall experience.  What was most heartening is that the examples were all (a) similar to one another (b) easily applied and (c) useful to a wide range of staff.

 Attending the event cost just £180 for fee and advanced train fares. The information I have brought back is of great value to MGS and our members. The lower limit for our small grants is also £150, and it occurred to me that we don’t get a lot of small grant requests from member organisations wanting to send representatives to conferences like this.  So can I suggest to anyone reading this who is either a service manager or interested individual to consider making the case to us?  Our small grants are to improve the quality of museum service provision. 

 Further information on our Small Grants Scheme can be found by clicking here.  I also recommend a visit to the Visitor Studies Group  website.

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