Visitor Experience

What it means

Visitor experience is the interactions a person has with the museum that form and inform their feelings about it. Visitor experience starts well before a visitor walks into the museum, but once a visitor does walk in, it is the cumulative effect of every interaction from ticketing and security to food offerings and the quality of interpretation. Visitor experience is delivered by the building, its contents, and all of its frontline employees and volunteers. It is also affected by external circumstances, such as the weather or what’s happening in the surrounding community.

While the visitor experience usually applies only to the physical, the same considerations apply to user experience (i.e., any digital experiences that the museum offers).

How it’s used

While visitor experience is highly subjective and individualized, and is affected by some elements that are beyond the control of the museum, it is a critical consideration that should be at the heart of team planning and design for all public-facing aspects of a museum’s offer. It can be measured using tools such as net promoter surveys, spot interviews, observation studies, or even having those normally behind the scenes, such as curators, walk the floor and observe how people take in what is on offer.

Why it matters

An excellent visitor experience is essential for positive word-of-mouth. The enthusiasm of the story a visitor tells after a visit, or how they share the experience with their network, is a key determinant of higher or lower attendance and brand building. Visitation can and should be kickstarted via marketing and communications, but it is visitor experience that determines if the attendance numbers escalate or fall off as an exhibition or program runs its course.


See also Wellness/Well-Being

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