I recently took part in the Guardian Culture Professionals Network Live Chat on how cultural venues can attract people in to spend money. The following extraction are my highlights. Please read full article here.
Adjust for your target audience: Basic things like having a clean or accessible toilet or cafe could make a real difference when people are choosing whether or not to visit this season. Schools tend to be catered for more with larger educational areas, while families are usually looking for areas to eat or sit down for a bit.
Also, think about your the disabled people in your community – they spend money too. Have you thought about offering anything to that target group (for lack of a better word)?
Have your customers spread the word for you: For example, you tweet a certain word from your venue’s account and the follower has to come into the venue to say it to receive a gift or voucher. That person then tweets out what they did with their winnings. It’s a brilliant and fun way to force someone into the venue that might not have gone otherwise and they also promote it through social media.
Venue shops are vital at this time of year: There are always going to be a few museums or galleries that have a successful shop but getting the others to start making them a pleasant experience and not an ‘Oh little Johnny, will you just hurry up!’ scenario is the challenge. For example, there is no need for any cramped aisles.
Also, making them affordable is key when it comes to joining families and shops. The ‘penny’ items don’t need to be junk with a brand sticker slapped on it – I would much rather purchase an item that I know will be used than something that is obviously a token.
Be creative and think outside the box: The sleepovers at the Natural History Museum have been a tremendous success, as are the late night events targeted to other age groups. Has it generated much money? I don’t know, but I do know that more and more people are talking about them and trying to attend them, spending money while they’re there.
Use Foursquare and Facebook check ins: Coupons and deals are very important in today’s economic climate so a suggestion I often tell smaller museums is to encourage their visitors to check in with Facebook of Frousquare and offer them a free gift for the visit. This could be a lollipop or 5% off in the cafe or shop. Why? Because it’s then getting the venue’s brand name out there.