First Annual VisitorVerdict Members Forum This July

The first annual VisitorVerdict Members Forum will take place on 11 July at BMA House, Tavistock Square in London and will celebrate the widespread commitment to measuring and benchmarking museum visitor experience. The Members Forum offers subscribing museums the opportunity to ensure they get the most from the service.  BDRC, with the support of the Association of Independent Museums (AIM), are hosting the event which will include a mixture of talks, tutorials, insights and networking.

Attendees can expect a productive day learning and sharing best practice for data collection and analysis. Insights and issues will be brought to life with stories from fellow member museums, AIM staff, regional museum development officers and the VisitorVerdict team. “Too often museums conduct the hard work of collecting visitor research and analysis in isolation,” explained Max Clapham, the Client Services Director at BDRC Conteminetal. “The member’s forum is a unique platform for staff and volunteers with a common bond and shared experience to promote the evaluation they do and get real practical help that supports them on their journey.”

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The event will celebrate the widespread commitment to measuring and benchmarking museum visitor experience

VisitorVerdict Awards will be also announced over lunch to recognise some of the great work happening country-wide. This is an invitation only event for current VisitorVerdict subscribers, but museums signing up to the service between now and early July will also have the opportunity to attend for free. VisitorVerdict is now the UK’s foremost visitor survey and benchmarking service for small/medium sized visitor attractions and museums are using VisitorVerdict to prioritise investment, improve visitor experience, inform marketing messages and media, for staff and volunteer training, contractor briefing and to attract and retain sponsors and investors.

Find out more about the service at



Insight Goes Live

The innovative digital research project, Insight has gone live and the project managers are inviting all museums and heritage sites in the UK to join trial participants and receive a free report detailing what factors most greatly influence visitor spend for their site.

The first trial of its kind in the sector, Insight combines information submitted by museums and heritage sites with wider ‘Big Data’ sets and uses predictive analytic techniques to provide a new approach to benchmarking. Project Manager Peter Collins explains “This type of analysis has not been available to the sector before now. In a time where most organisations are focusing on resilience, this interface is tailored specifically towards improving commercial income.”

Dr Joe Collins, Software Developer at Ryan O’Neil Partnership says, “We are collecting information across a wide range of parameters to explore what the key drivers may be that encourage, or discourage visitor spend.”

Laing Art Gallery Café - Tyne & Wear Archives and Museums

Laing Art Gallery Café – Tyne & Wear Archives and Museums

Participating organisations can expect to see a personalised online analysis platform and planning tools using benchmarking data that has been collected from participating organisations throughout the UK.

Supported by the Digital R&D Fund for the Arts – Nesta, Arts & Humanities Research Council and public funding by the National Lottery through Arts Council England – Insight is being delivered by three project partners; enterprise experts and cultural sector consultants Black Radley, software developers Ryan O’Neill Partnership and researchers from Bath Spa University’s Centre for Creative Computing.

Museums, art galleries, historic sites and houses, and other cultural attractions interested in taking part can find out more or sign up for the free no obligation trial at

For more information please contact Peter Collins, Enterprise and Culture Executive, on or 07896799748.

Visitor Verdict – Top Tips for Collecting Email Addresses

With over 200 museums now taking part in AIM Visitor Verdict – a free visitor research and benchmarking programme – we thought now would be a good time to share some top tips for making collecting visitors’ email addresses as easy as possible.

1.    The best time

You don’t have to bring up the survey at the beginning of a visit, when you probably have a lot of other things to say. Visitors tend to be more relaxed later on in their visit so this could be a good time to ask.

2.    The best place

Pick a point where the majority of your visitors will pass.

3.     Keep it varied

Approach visitors on different days of the week and at different times throughout the day. Include school holidays and term-time and both normal opening and event days.

4.     Only one e-mail per visitor party

You only need to collect one e-mail per group of people visiting together (remember this person must be 16yrs+).

5.    The more the better!

Most visitors are pleased to give feedback and are used to giving out their e-mail addresses so be confident in asking. The more feedback you get, the more confident you can be in your results.

6.     Smile

Ask visitors whether they’ve had a good visit when you approach them to participate in the survey, their experience of being asked is all part of their visit!

7.     Accuracy

E-mail addresses are easy to get wrong. Don’t waste your efforts: be sure to record e-mails carefully.

8.     Reduce workload

Enter e-mails directly into the system. Use the ‘Add a Visit’ tool to add them one-by-one or collect them electronically in a spreadsheet and upload them all in one go using the ‘Upload Tool’.

9.    Engage your team

Help staff and volunteers to understand why the research is important and how it’s helping. This should make them feel happier asking visitors to take part. Share results with your team and keep them updated on how things are going.

10.  Support your team

  • Ask staff/volunteers what would make collecting e-mails easier for them
  • Give them confidence to approach visitors by supplying them with the Visitor Verdict Certificate
  • Set a weekly target of e-mails to collect; work together and celebrate with a treat if you reach it
  • Run a competition with a small prize for whoever collects the most e-mail addresses
  • Click here to download a one-page leaflet to help staff and volunteers understand their task

These tips have been compiled with suggestions and feedback from our recent workshop with AIM Visitor Verdict members.

For more tips from the workshop click here.

For any queries please contact Amy Randle, AIM Visitor Verdict Manager on: tel; 0207 400 0382 / email;

Free Visitor Verdict Webinar 8th October – how to use your results

You’re invited to attend the
AIM Visitor Verdict Reporting Uses Webinar
11am-noon Wednesday 8th October 2014
Join the AIM Visitor Verdict team for an online presentation to show you how the wealth of information that is available in the AIM Visitor Verdict reporting pages could help your museum.The session will look at real data Didcot Railway Centre have collected from their visitors to demonstrate how AIM Visitor Verdict can help with:

·     Improving the visitor experience

·     Audience development work

·     Applications for funding

There will be an opportunity to ask questions to the team at the end of the session too.

* Register Here >>For any queries please contact Amy Randle, AIM Visitor Verdict Manager on:
tel: 0207 400 0382 / email:

How Visitor Verdict helps – income, marketing, fundraising and visitor experience

A Visitor Verdict Results Workshop was held recently to help museums and heritage sites get even more out of their membership of the free, AIM Visitor Verdict benchmarking and visitor research programme.

During the session Steve Mills of BDRC Continental explained about four areas where Visitor Verdict can help museums and the workshop participants then used the data from their own sites to explore further how Visitor Verdict can help them improve their offer to visitors and be more profitable, with Steve and his team on hand to provide expert guidance. To find out more about the workshop click here.

Here is some of what they learnt:

  1. Income Generation

The key Visitor Verdict reports here are the financial benchmarks for ticket pricing, catering and retail spending. It was useful to look at the benchmarks compared to similar types of museums and also your own museum’s value for money scores, compared to benchmarks in looking at whether there was flexibitily to increase prices. Either indicator on its own doesn’t tell you much but together they provide useful insight. If your current prices are lower than similar museums and your value for money scores are higher than similar museums, then there may be flexibility to increase prices.

The retail and catering spends are supported by details about how visitors find the quality, range of products and value for money, which can help pinpoint areas to be addressed. It also identifies the percentage of visitors who don’t visit retail, who browse but don’t buy and who make a purchase.

My looking at the results by types of visitor or by their motivation for visiting, it was possible to see that in some cases the retail offer was appealing to those with a strong interest in the subject of the museum but not to those who came for more general interest reasons, for instance.

  1. Marketing and Communications

There were lots of Visitor Verdict reports which helped museums understand how they could make their marketing and communications messages more effective including demographic information about visitors, understanding the motivations for their visits and therefore thinking about whether marketing messages are appealing to those motivations, the communications channels which have been most effective in triggering a visit, spend on marketing and use of social media and websites. All of these indicators are much more powerful because of the benchmarking element.

Steve emphasised the important difference between motivations for visiting (e.g. child engagement, topic interest, broadening horizons – some of the Visitor Verdict motivational segments) and triggers for a specific visit (the marketing channel which prompted a visit, e.g. leaflet, advertising, word of mouth recommendation).

  1. Improving the visitor experience

Visitor Verdict has 24 measures for visitor experience divided into three sections: service delivery (or customer service), content (linked to your interpretation) and emotional (how visitors feel about your museum and their visit). By looking at the content (interpretation) scores for different visitor  segments, you can see whether you are meeting the needs of all types of visitor and this can indicate where you might be able to adapt your content to meet the requirements of a wider range of people.

For instance visitors whose motivation is ‘topic interest’ (interest in the particular subject of your museum) may want quite detailed content, but this detailed content won’t appeal so much to those who are ‘tick box’ visitors (those visiting because they see your museum as a ‘must-see’ destination). Those whose motivation is ‘child engagment’ will be interested in how child-friendly your content is and may rate their experience very differently from those with ‘topic interest’ because of their different reason for visiting. Visitor Verdict also measures how well your museum or site delivers against different visitors’ primary motive for visiting, which also helps identify areas for improvement, for different types of visitors that you may wish to target.

  1. Funding

By understanding and being able to evidence in more detail how your interpretation could be improved to meet the needs of wider audiences or new types of visitors, you can make a better case to funders like the Heritage Lottery Fund about why investment is needed and the benefits it could bring. It can also underpin your evaluation strategy to show funders how their grants have made a difference. The information in Visitor Verdict gives you the information you need to answer the HLF application questions (and Activity Plan section) about who your visitors are, why they visit and what they gain from visiting. You can then track this over time to see the impact of the improvements made through a grant.

Visitor Verdict can also help you prove who is visiting and who is not visiting, how broad a socio-demographic profile you are reaching and how this compares to other similar museums, which can be useful for advocacy.  It can help you identify areas for large of small investments such as an under-performing shop or café.

The team at BDRC are always happy to answer any questions about getting set up with Visitor Verdict or about what results mean. Contact

Please also email Amy if you would be interested in attending a future Visitor Verdict Workshop, if you’d like to host one in your area or if you would be interested in joining a webinar.

If you haven’t signed up for Visitor Verdict yet, you still can – go to

If you aren’t a member of AIM it costs between £40 and £95 depending on the size of your museum, and Visitor Verdict is then free to use. Joining information can be found on

Tips from the first AIM Visitor Verdict Results Workshop

“I wish I’d collected more email addresses” was the overwhelming response from the 14 representatives of museums and heritage sites who attended the first AIM Visitor Verdict Results workshop, as they discovered the huge range of insights that Visitor Verdict can give into every element of the visitor experience.

Sites with larger numbers of completed surveys were able to look at their results in even more detail, identifying the differences in visitors’ experience depending on their motivation to visit, whether they had children in their party or whether this was their first visit, for instance.

AIM Visitor Verdict is an online visitor research and benchmarking tool, which is free for all AIM members to use. Museums collect email addresses from visitors who are then sent an online survey. The museum can log into the results website and see their data benchmarked against other similar types of museums as well as trends over time.

Visitor Verdict’s particular strengths are:

  • The low burden on the museum in participating with little time required and no cost
  • The benchmarking which makes it clear which elements of your results are significant

The workshop was organised by BDRC Continental and AIM to help sites in the early stages of using Visitor Verdict understand more about how it can help them, as well as to address any questions or problems on the practical elements of collecting email addresses and using the system.

Steve Mills of BDRC shared some of the ways that Visitor Verdict can help museums focusing on four areas:

  1. How to generate more income
  2. Marketing and communications
  3. Improving the visitor experience
  4. Fundraising, investment and advocacy

Click here for more details about how Visitor Verdict helped in these four areas.

The museums then worked in groups to look at how they could use their own data to explore some of these issues. The AIM and BDRC team were on hand to help with tips and guidance.

Some overall things that the museums took away from the workshop were:

  • Keep collecting the email addresses – Visitor Verdict can tell you so much more if you have a good sample size of completed surveys.
  • Use the benchmarking section first to highlight areas of concern compared to similar museums.
  • Use the filters to further analyse problem areas to see if the results change by type of visitor, when they visit or for other reasons.
  • Share what you’re learning with other staff and volunteers so they can see how the email addresses are helping and feel even more motivated to keep collecting them.
  • Try collecting email addresses during the visit or at the end of a visit rather than on arrival when there’s already lots to tell visitors.

The team at BDRC are always happy to answer any questions about getting set up with Visitor Verdict or about what results mean. Contact

Please also email Amy if you would be interested in attending a future Visitor Verdict Workshop, if you’d like to host one in your area or if you would be interested in joining a webinar.

If you haven’t signed up for Visitor Verdict yet, you still can – go to

If you aren’t a member of AIM it costs between £40 and £95 depending on the size of your museum, and Visitor Verdict is then free to use. Joining information can be found on

Free workshop to learn more about how to use #VisitorVerdict – sign up now

If you’ve already signed up for AIM Visitor Verdict, we’d like to invite you to attend a free Visitor Verdict workshop on Monday 14th July 2014 to help you get even more out of it.

What will you get from attending?

  • Examples of how Visitor Verdict can help your museum
    e.g. increasing visitor numbers; improving the visitor experience; fundraising; growing secondary spend
  • Explore how Visitor Verdict can help address problems and achieve goals for your museum
  • Hands on session developing reports that meet your needs
  • If you have 25+ completed surveys, the chance to use and explore your own results during the workshop
  • Expert guidance on all aspects of the service
    Including: collecting visitor’s details; using the online system; interpreting results & using benchmarking
  • Top tips to make running Visitor Verdict easy to manage
  • Sharing experiences so far and the opportunity to suggest improvements
When:    Monday 14th July 2014, 11am until 4pm – lunch and refreshments will be provided
Where:   Close by Holborn underground station, Central LondonBook your free place on this workshop 
There are limited places available so we recommend registering early.

If you are unable to attend, someone else in your organisation who
uses Visitor Verdict would be very welcome to register in your place.

When you register there will be the opportunity to share examples of current challenges facing your museum.  During the workshop we will explore some of these and show you how visitor research and benchmarking can help.

If you have any questions/problems please get in touch:
Tamalie Newbery, AIM Executive Director  0777 333 6164
Amy Randle, BDRC Continental Research Manager 0207 400 0382

We will both be available to talk to in person on the day of the workshop too.

AIM Visitor Verdict announces 80 new places and opens to museums across UK

Visitor Verdict, the Association of Independent Museum’s visitor research and benchmarking tool for museums, has been going from strength to strength. AIM and partner BDRC-Continental, have just announced a further 80 museums can join, after all the places offered last year have been filled.

For the first time, these can be taken up by museums in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, as well as England. Independent, local authority and other types of museums are all eligible, if they are members of AIM.

Visitor Verdict is an industry-leading and powerful visitor-research tool. Its strength is the low burden it places on the museums participating in it: only visitor email addresses have to be collected by the museum and then the online system sends out personalised email surveys and collates and analyses visitors’ responses. Museums log into the Visitor Verdict website to see their results.

The other feature of great benefit is the ability to compare the museum’s own results with the anonymised results of other similar groups of museums, by size, subject, location and other variables. This ability to benchmark performance in every area from spends per head to the quality of the visitor experience makes the insights gained much more useful.

Visitor Verdict is funded by Arts Council England until September 2015, but additional places have now been agreed for those outside England. Participation is free until then for all AIM members. Membership of AIM starts from as little as £40 a year and is open to all museums, galleries and heritage attractions, including local authority museums. As well as access to Visitor Verdict, those who join will also get all the other benefits of AIM’s advice and support on income generation, volunteering and many other areas. More information is available on AIM’s website Visitor Verdict has its own website,  or contact AIM’s Executive Director, Tamalie Newbery

Diane Clements, Director at the Library and Museum of Freemasonry, explains how she’s using this new insight resource in many different ways. She shares the overall enjoyment score with staff “as it’s a concept that they can take on board and work to improve.” The insights also helped her understand the main motivation of different visitors and their demographic profile. Of particular benefit was the revelation that 40% of visitors were not even looking in the shop, a higher figure than for similar museums. She explains, “Our shop is an important source of funding. This is useful for us to make sure we tell visitors about the shop and food for thought for the Shop Manager.”

Bring on the feedback: why you need visitor reviews

Martin Baker suggests that when cultural organisations don’t encourage their visitors to give online reviews, they are missing out on a free form of publicity which carries enormous weight with potential visitors.

In an article published by Arts Professional he discusses why cultural organisations might be reluctant to request reviews from the public, but what they are missing out on when they don’t. Although the article talks about the arts, it is just as applicable to museums.

The article also includes a useful summary of dos and don’ts when collecting visitor opinions.

The AIM benchmarking tool, Visitor Verdict, can help collect some of the information which Baker discusses, though in the case of Visitor Verdict this is not published publicly, but does have the added advantage that your museum’s performance can be compared with other similar organisations’.

Read the full article on Arts Professional’s website here.