As an industry that relies heavily on foot traffic, it comes as no surprise that museums are experimenting with big data to draw in and engage new visitors. A report released by the American Alliance of Museums’ Center for the Future of Museums states that museums should look toward a diverse array of industries to learn how they’re sustaining or even increasing foot traffic amidst this digital-age. Given the significant stake attendance has on their prosperity, staying on top of these industries’ practices are critical to the success of museums and other visitor-serving organizations.
With this said, museums’ newfound interest in big data is a drastic step in the right direction. Not only should the focus be on increasing traffic, but also understanding the journey behind their visitors’ experience. Which exhibits are drawing the most people? How long are people observing each specific exhibit? Did adjusting the “feng shui” of an exhibit result in higher traffic than before? These are stories, or better yet, opportunities foot traffic is introducing to museums, but many are unsure how or even where to get started. This is quite understandable, given the technology required to capture these insights only became available a few years back. Now, it not only exists, but is readily available and making revolutionary changes for museums across the board.
Attendance of Museums and the Visitor-Serving Industry
As the U.S. population continues to grow year-over-year, larger concentrations of people are moving into metropolises than ever before. While these metropolises host a majority of the country’s museums, 83% of museums and other visitor-serving organizations have experienced stagnation or even decreases in attendance Not only is this affecting the museum industry, but the phenomena is spreading across the wide array of visitor-serving organizations. In 2016, movie theatres experienced a 3.5% fall in attendance, and in Q2, almost ALL major film studios experienced negative profits. While current statistics are presenting these decreases, your attendance trajectory does not have to follow this trend. Consider changing your marketing model to appeal to the ever changing preferences and demographic of your current and prospective visitors. By adapting your business model to stay up to date with the latest technologies, your prospects for increasing attendance are very real and viable.
Why are fewer people visiting museums? One of the most popular theories is the gravitation that’s developed for our personal technology such as laptops and smartphones is keeping us home as a more convenient and customizable form of entertainment than ever before. With 71% of US households subscribed to a streaming platform like Netflix and Hulu, alongside their immediate access to any imaginable question on the internet, how is the visitor-serving industry supposed to get people to leave their homes?
The answer it seems, is when people hit the town, they want “an experience.” Direct engagement and interaction with a venue, group of people, or an activity for entertainment or education, that can only be experienced through real-world exposure and participation. When this want for “experiential tourism” is coupled with technology (such as the smart devices that usually keep people at home,) the possibilities now available to the visitor-serving industry to appeal to shifting demographics are endless.
Not only can new technologies help you bring new visitors in, but also result in the same visitors coming back. Interactive displays for example have been extremely effective for visitor retention, as people are able to have a different experience each time they come back. The use of mobile technologies in museums is also creating a more positive experience for attendees, as 60% of visitors expressed that interactively using their mobile devices at a museum enhanced their overall visit. Overall, museums that have transitioned their business model to be technologically innovative have experienced growth in their attendance.
One such museum is the Dallas Museum of Art (DMA), which has a deep commitment to the technological advancement of museums and has developed the Laboratory of Museum Innovation to showcase their initiative. This lab is exclusively dedicated to the advancement of museum innovation and technology that will positively affect visitors’ experiences at the DMA and museums across the globe. The DMA’s commitment to innovation has greatly paid off, as despite the fact that attendance at most museums across the country has declined, DMA’s attendance has experienced year over year growth since 2008 and a whopping 23% from 2013 to 2014. Given this incredible success, a business model devoted to technological innovation is something that museums and visitor-serving businesses could greatly benefit from replicating.
One IoT (Internet of Things) company that provides technology museums and other visitor-serving industries are using to implement a more technology-centric engagement model is Scanalytics. Based out of Milwaukee, WI, Scanalytics specializes in measuring human behavior insights through intelligent floor sensors. The “smart floor” is able to analyze how many people enter a venue or room, how long individuals spend engaging in a key area, and even the particular paths individuals are taking throughout a space. This type of data can be pivotal to the continued success of a museum, as data analyzed by Scanalytics can effectively present facts about museums’ attendees that could never before be understood. Museums are using this hard data to clearly identify not only which exhibits draw the most foot traffic, but which exhibit's visitors are choosing to stay and engage with the display.
Measuring the Success of Your Tech Investment
Before implementing the new innovations into your exhibit, Scanalytics’ floor sensor platform is installed to benchmark your current traffic so you can determine the ROI of your technology investment by comparing the changes in traffic. The automated reporting platform presents your data in clear reports that measure real-time improvements and help you strategize future developments and initiatives for the museum. This data can be vital to your financial and investment decisions on whether a new investment in technology or newly featured exhibit is resonating with your client base. Adapting a more tech-focused business model can be a difficult process, however, investing in analytical technologies like Scanalytics can provide a more efficient, predictable and profitable transition for your museum.
Scanalytics is among the top 10 fastest growing “Internet of Things” companies, measuring human behavior insights through intelligent floor sensors. The SoleSensor platform translates consumer foot traffic into actionable data through a dashboard interface for real-time and historical viewing of trends in physical spaces. Using the floor sensor technology, brands capture and analyze occupancy, traffic patterns and engagement times to increase conversions and improve ROI.
With over 40 million impressions to date, Scanalytics has deployed SoleSensors across the United States, Canada, Mexico, Europe and Southeast Asia. Learn more at:www.scanalyticsinc.com.