Consultant/s Sought For Groundbreaking Diversifying Museum Visitors Project

Increasing the diversity of their visitors is one of the aims of many museums. It directly relates to the core purpose of museums, as well as offering the opportunity to support museums’ sustainability. Whilst there have been previous studies in the museum and related sectors, progress towards this goal has been limited for the majority of museums.

We are seeking a consultant or consultants to undertake a UK-wide project, the purpose of which is to help museums to increase the diversity of their core visitors. The key focus of the project is on providing tools and guidance to help museums make long-term change in their organisations to achieve this.


We expect the project to include a review of existing literature, examination of case studies and production of guidance, toolkits, frameworks or other types of support, which should be co-produced with a range of different types of museums. Consultants are also asked to make recommendations about actions that sector support organisations should take and about rolling out the outcomes of this project, as well as long-term evaluation.

The project is led by the Association of Independent Museums, in partnership with Arts Council England, Museums Association, Museums Galleries Scotland, National Museums Northern Ireland and Welsh Government. There is a budget of up to £25,000. The work is to be completed by Autumn 2017.

Consultants or consortia interested in applying should download the Invitation to Tender below:

Invitation to Tender Diversifying Museum Visitors

Proposals should be submitted to by 5pm on 16 Feb 2017


The Welsh VisitorVerdict Forum Fforwm VisitorVerdict Cymru

This is a bilingual message / Neges ddwyieithog yw hon

Customer feedback is vital for museums, heritage sites and visitor attractions as it enables them to improve the visitor experience, grow audiences and boost income streams. But gaining important visitor feedback on tight budgets and with limited time and resources can be tricky: this is where VisitorVerdict can help Welsh museums and visitor attractions.

In partnership with the Association of Independent Museums (AIM) and Welsh Government, VisitorVerdict will be hosting an inaugural forum for all Welsh visitor attractions on Wednesday 16th November at Wrexham Museum. The event will bring alive the world of visitor research and benchmark evaluation, inspiring you to weave it into the heart of your operation.

VisitorVerdict can support Welsh museums and heritage sites by informing them about their audiences and can help to address the lack of data about museum audiences as highlighted in the ‘Expert Review of Local Museum Provision in Wales 2015’. VisitorVerdict provides information about who visits, why they are there, what they do on their visit and how many local residents, schools and groups visit. Visitor attractions outside of the heritage sector are also able to access the bilingual VisitorVerdict benchmarking service and are welcome to attend this event.

In addition, Welsh Government have provided funding of £150 for the each of the first ten newly signed up Welsh museums that reach one hundred completed VisitorVerdict surveys. Your museum must be a member of AIM to be eligible and accredited or registered with the Welsh Government as being eligible to apply for accreditation.

Attend the event for:

*Analysis of 2016 visitor trends

*Top tips for data collection

*Live interaction with the web reporting

*Feedback from other attractions that use the service

Attendance includes a free lunch. Invitations are for maximum of two people per organisation.

“VisitorVerdict has been a bit of an eye opener. We have begun to really appreciate the depth built into the system that allows us to address our visitor challenges and experiences from a range of angles and perspectives.” Lucinda Middleton, Richard and Ann Mayou – Fund Curator at MOMA MACHYNLLETH

Further information and how to book: The Welsh VisitorVerdict Forum


 Fforwm VisitorVerdict Cymru

Mae adborth cwsmeriaid yn hanfodol i amgueddfeydd, safleoedd treftadaeth ac atyniadau ymwelwyr gan ei fod yn eu galluogi i wella profiad yr ymwelydd, tyfu cynulleidfaoedd a chynyddu ffrydau incwm. Ond gall gasglu adborth pwysig gan ymwelwyr gyda chyllidebau tynn a gydag amser ac adnoddau cyfyngedig fod yn anodd: dyma pryd y gall VisitorVerdict fod o gymorth i amgueddfeydd Cymru ac atyniadau ymwelwyr.

Mewn partneriaeth â Chymdeithas yr Amgueddfeydd Annibynnol (AIM) a Llywodraeth Cymru, bydd VisitorVerdict yn cynnal fforwm cychwynnol i atyniadau ymwelwyr Cymru i gyd ar Ddydd Mercher 16eg Tachwedd yn Amgueddfa Wrecsam. Bydd y digwyddiad yn dod â’r byd ymchwil ymwelwyr a gwerthuso meincnodi yn fyw, gan eich ysbrydoli i’w plethu i galon eich gweithrediad.

Gall Visitor Verdict fod o gymorth i amgueddfeydd a safloedd treftadaeth Cymru drwy eu hysbysu am eu cynulleidfaoedd, a helpu i fynd i’r afael â’r diffyg data am gynulleidfaoedd amgueddfa fel a amlygir yn ‘Yr Adolygiad Arbenigol o Ddarpariaeth Amgueddfeydd Lleol yn Nghymru 2015’.

Mae Visitor Verdict yn darparu gwybodaeth am bwy sydd yn ymweld, pam eu bod yno, beth maent yn ei wneud yn ystod eu hymweliad a faint o breswylwyr, ysgolion a grwpiau lleol sydd yn ymweld. Mae atyniadau ymwelwyr y tu allan i’r sector treftadaeth hefyd yn gallu cael mynediad i’r gwasanaeth meincnodi dwyieithog Visitor Verdict, ac mae croeso iddynt fynychu’r digwyddiad hwn.

Yn ogystal, mae Llywodraeth Cymru wedi darparu cyllid o £150 i bob un o’r deg amgueddfa cyntaf yng Nghymru i arwyddo i fyny o’r newydd, sydd yn llwyddo cyrraedd cant o arolygon Visitor Verdict wedi eu cwblhau. Rhaid i’ch amgueddfa fod yn aelod o AIM i fod yn gymwys ac wedi’i hachredu neu ei chofrestu gyda Llywodraeth Cymru fel bod yn gymwys ar gyfer achrediad.  Mynychwch y digwyddiad ar gyfer:

*Dadansoddiad o dueddiadau ymwelwd 2016

*Sïon sicr ar gyfer casglu data

*Rhyngweithio byw gydag adrodd ar y we

*Adborth gan atyniadau eraill sydd yn defnyddio’r gwasanaeth

Mae mynychu yn cynnwys cinio di-dâl. Mae’r gwahoddiadau ar gyfer dau berson ar y mwyaf o bob sefydliad.

“Mae VisitorVerdict yn agor eich llygaid. Rydym wedi dechrau gwerthfawrogi dyfnder y system sydd yn ein caniatau i fynd i’r afael â heriau a phrofiadau ein ymwelwyr o amrywiaeth o onglau a safbwyntiau.” Lucinda Middleton, Richard ac Ann Mayou – Curadur Cronfa Amgueddfa Gelf Fodern MACHYNLLETH

Rhagor o wybodaeth a sut i archebu lle: Fforwm VisitorVerdict Cymru



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



Reimagining the Visitor Experience with Museum Hack

If you keep an eye on what’s happening in the USA Museum sector, you will have noticed Museum Hack. This dynamic organisation was created by CEO, Nick Gray, after he decided he wanted to reimagine the adult museum experience – especially for millennial audiences. Museum Hack provides an engaging and hands on approach to museum tours and was developed to offer new access points for people who think they don’t like museums and who crave a different option. The team now run hundreds of tours each year in museums in several states alongside consulting services to start-ups, museums, universities and visitor attractions.

The whole ethos of the organisation is slightly rock n roll, daring, social and ‘reverently irreverent’ and the team take pride in offering story based tours that are exhilarating and unique. AIM talked to Ethan Angelica, a Tour Guide with Museum Hack, to find out more about the organisation and how UK independent museums can transform their visitor experiences using Museum Hack principles. Charming, passionate and a lot of fun (he was dressed as a penguin when he gave Hollywood actor Hugh Jackman a tour) Ethan also provided some Museum Hack top tips that UK independent museums can put into practice.

The American Wing of the Metropolitan Museum of Art is one of the best places to take pictures in the Museum!

Museum Hack tours are anything but boring! (Photo credit: Museum Hack & Winston Struye)

AIM: Hi Ethan. Many thanks for this interview – can we start by asking you what impact has Museum Hack has had on the American museum sector?

EA: In many ways, I feel that we are pushing many museums to re-evaluate how they view and connect with their audiences. As part of my job, I get to speak with museum professionals around the world and hear their concerns. And it is often very much the same thing: we know we need to innovate, but we’re nervous about what that means. By showing that, as outsiders, we can build a sustainable audience, create jobs around the museum field, and develop programming that is attractive to a wide swathe of folks who aren’t necessarily coming to museums on their own, we’ve given traditionalists pause to think about how they might innovate and use elements of our reverent-irreverence, storytelling skills and passion-based discovery in their own work.

AIM:  What could UK independent museums do to become more accessible to their visitors?

EA: Listen to your audience, and then meet them where they are. The traditional museum experience will always have a place for sure, but it is not always the best way in for new folks. What happens if you ask people to use their smartphones to do informal research, play games or even take a selfie, since that’s what many visitors do in their daily lives? What if you scrapped the idea of a script and encouraged every guide, educator and staff member to do their own research and only speak about the objects that they are head-over-heels in love with, because we know visitors respond more to passionate storytelling than recited scripts? What if, as guides, we were just as opinionated as our guests? All of these are techniques Museum Hack has applied and shown to be effective. They are what our audience asks for, and we meet them there.

We are pro selfies, because you look good in a museum! Especially on a sunny day in the American Wing of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

What happens if you ask people to use their smartphones to do informal research, play games or even take a selfie? (Photo credit: Museum Hack & Winston Struye)

AIM: That’s good advice Ethan and worth applying – or at least trying – but why is listening to visitor feedback so important do you think?

EA: Visitors hold the key to unlocking their desired experience. All we have to do is ask. As museum professionals, we already know why we love museums, so we are not necessarily our target demographic. If the goal is to engage new and changing audiences, hearing them out and finding ways to meet their needs is essential. Yes…sometimes it is uncomfortable to learn that the way you talk about your favourite object is the part people consider the most boring bit of the experience. Yes, sometimes their feedback pushes us outside of our comfort zones. Yes…sometimes what guests are asking for can seem downright silly. But, what is the goal here? I believe that our job is to serve the public by giving them a way in to the incredible objects in our charge – if we don’t listen to what people want and give it to them, how can we be relevant?

AIM:  What would you say to encourage UK independent museums to try more adventurous methods of engaging visitors?

EA: Don’t be afraid to fail. If you are going to innovate, that fear is the first thing that needs to go out the window. Ask yourself what you believe you will never be able to do in a museum, and then figure out how to do it. I often hear traditional museum professionals meet some suggestions with the phrase, “Oh, we could never do that.” Are you sure? Have you tried? At Museum Hack, we ask guides to do “beta test” tours to ensure that they are constantly innovating.

AIM: Sounds good – what’s it like running a beta test tour?

EA: It’s terrific! You call up your friends, try out some new stuff, get feedback and keep the stuff that doesn’t suck. And sometimes it all sucks. And that’s OK. The real reason to do this is to make sure that you’re always pushing yourself to try new things. And, sometimes, you strike real gold. Through my beta test tours, I’ve figured out how to get visitors excited about Rothko via attempts at synaesthesia, helped remix the audio tour experience and learned that saying “Renoir sucks at painting” too loudly can get you in some serious trouble!

boring! Proof from one of our American Museum of Natural History Tours.

Visitors hold the key to unlocking their desired experience (Photo credit: Museum Hack & Winston Struye)

AIM: Ethan, do you have any advice for persuading boards of trustees to become more engaged in the visitor experience at their museum?

EA: Have them co-lead tours. Seriously. Every staff member at Museum Hack is required to be able to give a tour, regardless of whether they are regularly asked to do so. Why? Because now they get it. Now they see what’s happening on the ground, they understand what guests want, they’ve had to intimately explore engagement techniques themselves, and are now deeply into the mission. Who knows? Maybe they’ll give you some amazing ideas!

AIM: When you visit a museum as a visitor – what do you hope and expect from your visit Ethan?

EA: When I visit a museum, I want to have a dynamic experience. I want to have transporting, magical “aha” moments (little hits of dopamine, for the scientifically-inclined), and I want to feel like I can be myself. I want to feel comfortable enough that I can ask a question, and trust that it will be answered like I’m chatting with a super-smart friend. I want to feel like it’s OK to laugh, and it’s OK to be silent. It’s OK to snap a selfie, and it’s OK to stand in awe-struck reverence. In short, I want the museum to be open to allowing me to experience it on my terms, whatever those terms may be. And I suspect that those terms are a little different for everyone.

AIM: Thanks Ethan and Museum Hack for your time, is there anything else you would like to add?

EA: Visitors respond to passion and storytelling. It’s magical how effective this can be. Well-crafted stories and interactions – with solid narrative structure, just the right amount of information, excellent humour and good energy cause real, chemical changes in the brain that make the listener feel more connected to objects, people and places. That result is what visitors want, and what museums want. I believe that the better we can become at this, the better the visitor experience will be.

doesn’t have to be boring. We encourage businesses to get outside the office and come to the museum for one of our customized Corporate tours.

Passion and storytelling are what visitors respond to (Photo credit: Museum Hack & Winston Struye)


Museum Hack: Top Five Tips For An Exciting Visitor Experience

1: Figure out how to do the thing you’ve always wanted to do in a museum, but thought you couldn’t.

2: Banish the script and speak from the heart.

3: Keep trying new stuff, and don’t be afraid to fail.

4: Listen to your audience, and meet them where they are.

5: Have fun, and make sure your guests are too.

Don’t be afraid to fail. If you are going to innovate, that fear is the first thing that needs to go (Photo credit: Museum Hack & Winston Struye)


AIM would like to thank Nick Gray, Ethan Angelica and the Museum Hack team for their support.

You can find out more about Museum Hack here:

Museum Hack Website

Museum Hack Twitter @MuseumHack

Nick Gray Website 

Want to understand your visitor experience better? AIM members can take part in VisitorVerdict at discounted rates: AIM VisitorVerdict

A video by Museum Hack CEO, Nick Gray – well worth watching!

ACE Convention 2015

The annual ACE Convention & Trade Show will take place on Tuesday 3rd & Wednesday 4th March 2015 at the Bournemouth International Centre (BIC) in Bournemouth, Dorset.

ACE (Association for Cultural Enterprises) have lined up a programme of speaker sessions and topical keynotes, and a bigger trade show than ever with over 80 stands this year.


Tamalie Newbery (Executive Director of AIM) and Steve Mills (Director, BDRC Continental) will be giving a talk at this event on ‘Benchmarking the Visitor Experience to Improve Resilience’.

Full Information can be found here: ACE Convention 2015

Download the programme: ACE Convention 2015


AIM National Conference 2015

AIM National Conference  18 – 20 June 2015

‘The Hallmarks of Prospering Museums’

This year, the AIM National Conference will be held at the award-winning Brunel’s ss Great Britain in Bristol, with an exciting new conference format that develops the new AIM Hallmarks through three themes: Leadership, Purpose and Governance; Innovation in Visitor Experience and Entrepreneurialism and Income Generation.

The conference will feature 30 guest speakers, 12 breakout sessions, new surgery sessions and keynote speeches from some of the UK’s leading cultural experts including the Chairs, Directors or CEOs of: ss Great Britain, London Transport Museum, ALVA, HLF, Battersea Arts Centre, Development Partners, Imperial War Museum, Derby Silk Museum, Creative United, Tiverton Museum, Museum of Dartmoor Life, Gordon Highlanders Museum, Royal West of England Academy, Bexley Heritage Trust, Birmingham Conservation Trust, Association of Cultural Enterprises, Luton Museums and National Football Museum.

Front Page

NEW for this year will also be a ‘Question Time Debate’ with a guest panel, Chaired by Matthew Tanner.

The Panel:

Richard Evans (Director, Beamish, The Living Museum of the North)

Diane Lees (Director-General, Imperial War Museum)

Judy Niner (Director of Development Partners and Chair of Cogges Manor Farm)

John Orna-Ornstein (Director of Museums, Arts Council England)

Evening social events, industry exhibitors and a Saturday Study Tour that will visit three of Bristol’s most historic locations means that the AIM National Conference 2015 is ideal for anyone connected to the UK’s heritage sector.

With more speakers and relevant topics than ever before, plus plenty of networking and idea sharing opportunities, by attending AIM conference you will discover a range of practical approaches to help your museum or heritage organisation prosper.

Image courtesy of ss Great Britain

Image courtesy of ss Great Britain

Our special Early Bird booking rate starts at just £45 per day for AIM members and runs until April 17th.

Download the AIM National Conference Brochure: conference 2015 booklet WEB

For how to book, prices and a conference schedule, please visit the AIM website and view ‘EVENTS’ tab at:


Follow all conference updates on Twitter @AIMuseums #2015AIM

AIM would like to thank Brunel’s ss Great Britain and our conference sponsors Development Partners


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“It was just stuff in glass cages” – The importance of ‘Things To Do’ at attractions

Our colleagues at BDRC (who many will know as AIM’s partner in delivering Visitor Verdict) have been working on a challenge for 2014 – trying to visit 100 attractions and tweet and blog about their experiences.

They have given us permission to share their latest blog with you. You can read more of their insights on their blog, BDRC Stories. This article is packed full of the different ways that museums provide visitors with ‘Things To Do’ (not just for children!) and why it’s so important.

“It was just stuff in glass cages” – The importance of Things To Do at attractions.

By Jon Young.
Tourism, Travel & Leisure team Associate Director at BDRC Continental.

'Things to do' at National Trust's Baddesley Clinton

In April this year, we embarked on the #visit100 challenge – a quest to visit 100 unique venues, exhibitions and events across the UK, taking a flattering selfie at each. Aside from perfecting the selfie (a skill few of us have managed), the main aim of #visit100 is to add granularity to our findings from the ALVA Visitor Experience Benchmarking Survey.

A consistent driver of a positive experience in our ALVA work is ‘what there is to do’ at a venue. The presentation of objects with written interpretation is sufficient for specialists (the ALVA [and Visitor Verdict] ‘topic interest’ segment), but expectations are much higher for ‘tick box’ or ‘broadening horizons’ visitors, particularly those who are new to the subject area.

The desire for ‘things to do’ is in part driven by the availability or ‘democratisation’ of knowledge via the internet and the technology that supports it. Cultural venues are no longer the main custodians of the information they exhibit. One of my first #visit100 trips was to Flamsteed House in Royal Observatory Greenwich. Between Herons Quay and Mudchute on the DLR, I had processed (although not remembered) enough information about Sir Christopher Wren to use it as a specialist subject on Mastermind. Wind back ten years, and this would not have been possible. Modern-day visitor are equipped with far more knowledge, or at the very least know that they can easily access it should they want to.

The internet – via the rise of social media – has also acted as a catalyst for FOMO (Fear of Missing Out). Facebook check-ins and photo uploads allow us to shape how we are seen (our personal brand), and create a desire for our friends or followers to be seen similarly. Through creating and promoting tick-box experiences, attractions are in a great position to harness FOMO. You only need to look at the queue of people waiting by the Meridian Line (even though the actual line extends into the park below) to see FOMO’s power.

The recession has also played a part in driving this shift. VisitEngland’s report on domestic leisure trends for the next decade talks about Cultural Capital – a movement away from transactional experiences to learning new skills. Trendswatch by the American Alliance of Museums makes a similar point.

Venues continue to be presented in multi-sensory ways, opening the door to a more immersive experience. ‘The Rain Room’ at the Barbican and ‘David Bowie is’ at the V&A are great examples of how this can be done using technology. Sensing Spaces at the Royal Academy demonstrated how it can be done using the sights and smells of nature.

Our #visit100 experiences have revealed lots of good examples of ‘things to do’. At National Trust’s Baddesley Clinton, our director’s children got dressed up in period clothes (although he didn’t). At Thinktank Birmingham, the Science Garden taught me about science in hands-on ways that school failed to and the internet never could.

But ‘things to do’ isn’t just for children, and it doesn’t have to be too interactive. The British Library’s Comics Unmasked exhibition invited visitors to sketch their own comics, and entries were put on the wall. Down the road, The Wellcome Collection’s A to Z of the Human Condition sought entries for each letter of the alphabet – onsite and online. Another installation in Sensing Spaces was made solely of plastic piping that visitors had created themselves. At the National Gallery, visitors are invited to take a photo mimicking the subjects of the artwork they are standing next to.

So should all venues be packed with things to do? Well, given their importance in driving a positive visit, it’s a good place to start. But ‘things to do’ is just one way of generating deeper engagement. During my #visit100 travels, two guided tours developed my understanding of impressionism (at National Gallery) and encouraged me to buy a print (at Tate). Staff interaction taught me what fur is on the Queen’s crown at the Tower of London (it’s stoat) and the whole of Queen Victoria’s family tree at Kensington Palace.

The key challenge is to get people to think about objects or exhibits, to help them understand their context. It’s about telling stories, taking visitors back in time, delving beyond the case (or ‘cage’ as one focus group respondent put it) that they are stored in.

A small selection of our recent #Visit100 selfies.

BDRC’s Tourism, Culture and Leisure sector research team have been taking selfies on their travels to visitor attractions in 2014 – view them all here #Visit100.

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 AIM Talks at Museums + Heritage Show 15th May 2014


AIM is delighted to announce that we will be providing a series of free talks on trade, enterprise and funding at the Museum + Heritage Show in London on 15th May 2014. We hope you will come along to enjoy the talks and visit us on our stand.

We will also be signing up new participants for AIM’s visitor research and benchmarking scheme, Visitor Verdict and announcing a new scheme to help members save money on their energy bills. The AIM sponsored Winstan Bond Trophy for Trading and Enterprise will be announced at the M+H Awards Dinner on 14th May.

The AIM strand of talks will feature on Thursday 15th May and include some excellent speakers from Leeds Castle, ss Great Britain, London Transport Museum, Kelvingrove, AIM and Arts Council England. AIM’s partner BDRC Continental will also be speaking about visitor research, including Visitor Verdict, on Wednesday 14th May.

10.25 – 11.05

Great products = successful shop

Michael Walton is Head of Trading at London Transport Museum, with its extremely successful museum shop and online retail. He has recently contributed to the 2nd edition of “Successful Retailing in Museums”. Michael will talk about how the right products are fundamental to increasing turnover and profitability and will share his top tips for sourcing exciting and relevant products for your shop. Michael Walton, Head of Trading, London Transport Museum

11.35 – 12.15

A world of opportunities from ACE and AIM
Arts Council England will provide the latest information on their current opportunities and funding plans for 2015 to 2018. AIM will discuss their five grant giving schemes as well as other money saving opportunities.
Matthew Tanner, Chair of the Association of Independent Museums and Mary Godwin, Relationship Manager for Museums, Arts Council England

12.45 – 13.25

Welcome (now give us your money)! 
We work endlessly on our programming and our presentation, we focus hard on our grant applications and our outcomes – and yet sometimes forget some basic steps that make every visitor feel better, relax and spend more. Victoria will help you to ensure that your museum or heritage site is offering a great welcome, happy customer service and still generating good spend. Surprisingly simple, but surprisingly difficult to do….
Victoria Wallace, Chief Executive, Leeds Castle

13.55 – 14.35

Jack Vettriano, Record-breaking retail!
The Vettriano exhibition produced £1.35 million in retail sales in 5 months. This presentation will illustrate the exhibition’s background and context, before describing the business of creating a record-breaking retail outlet for a temporary exhibition. We will describe our methodology of creating a successful shop and focus on the lessons learned along the way.
Catherine McGurk, Retail Trading Manager and Dr Neil Ballantyne, Museum Manager, Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum, Glasgow Life

15.05 – 15.45 

Top 10 tips – fundraising opportunities and challenges in the museums and heritage sector 
Fundraising for museums and heritage organisations is exactly the same as fundraising for any charity. Or is it? Louisa – who joined the cultural sector 12 months ago and has many year’s fundraising experience from outside the sector – will discuss what she found challenging and what opportunities exist, when fundraising for a heritage site and museum. She will run through the top 10 things she has learnt since joining the sector and you will walk away with some top tips to implement in your fundraising strategy. Louisa Pharoah, Head of Development, ss Great Britain Trust