It’s the last day of the Spring term and thinking back to my in-house museum days, it would be the day we were busily juxtaposing our outdoor site, hiding beautifully coloured cardboard Easter eggs around 26 acres of predominantly grey industrial landscape ready for the thousands of young children who would excitedly drag their parents and grandparents over a coal pile to find the bright oval shapes and then navigate their way around the museum based solely on the clues we’d so eggs-cellently distributed (the puns still haunt me now).
Today is quite different. Not least because I took the bold step last year to become a freelance consultant, swapping my Victorian Town view for one of my fairly bog standard back garden – which I’m actually growing to love in recent weeks -, but because I know that there are no museums or attractions out there gearing up for their busiest two weeks of the season so far. Nor are there families at home inquisitively Googling ‘fun things to do near me’ and planning their Easter days out. These are hard times for both parties but they are also times in which the two can help and support each other.
For those teams who would be busily planting clues on this April Friday, don’t waste the planning you’ve already done. How else can you distribute those carefully worded and heavily-punned clues? Can you still entertain lock-downed families with them digitally? Perhaps, instead of hiding all your clues on this one day ready for the next two weeks, you can issue a clue on your social media account each day of the Easter Hols leading those bored kids and families to ‘find’ the answer to something using the content available on your website. By the end of the holidays they’ll have done a virtual trail of your organisation and learnt a few things along the way.
Why not use people’s time to help you understand them a bit more? Run fun short polls on social media about their favourite parts of your attraction. Ask them what they’d like to see in your programme when you re-open? Maybe they hate those cardboard eggs…..take the time to find out now so you can plan for the future.
And help them plan for the future. Don’t stop taking bookings for your events planned for later in the year; in fact, encourage it and give people something to look forward to! Let them book online for your Summer exhibition or your Fireworks display. Just make sure that you’ve put some thought into your refunds policy and that it’s both reassuring and robust.
As it’s just dawned on me that I’ve jumped on the ‘top tips’ band wagon here (oops), so too have I just realised how disheartening it must be for attractions all around the country, and the world, to see this year’s targets slip away before the season has even really got underway. With the uncertainties around the length of time we may all be in lockdown, surely the only thing to do is to sweep those financial targets to one side and to re-visit those traditional KPIs to make them meaningful in these times. What short-term targets can be achieved this Easter and beyond? Just how many people can you reach with your cardboard eggs over social media?
And let’s be honest, what better thing to communicate to colleagues at this time than a target that you’ve eggs-ceeded (sorry!)