Saturday, May 31, 2008

Creating Connection Cultures

Recently I had the pleasure of talking with author and consultant Michael Lee Stallard about creating what he calls "Connection Cultures" at work. You'll find the podcast in the player on the right sidebar. Michael is the founder and President of E Pluribus Partners.

Michael is the author of Fired Up or Burned Out: Reignite Your Team's Passion, Creativity, and Productivity. He's also recently published a free e-book called The Connection Culture: A New Source of Competitive Advantage, which you can download here.

Michael's research shows three aspects of organizational culture that contribute to higher levels of connection among employees: vision, value, and voice. I liked how he gave examples from a variety of businesses for each, as well as linking our discussion to nonprofits like museums.

Connection creates a number of benefits for an organization or business, including:
  1. higher productivity (and therefore increased revenue)
  2. lower employee turnover
  3. more engaged employees who can provide better customer (or visitor) experiences.
Have a listen and leave us a comment to tell us how well your workplace creates connection.

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Sunday, May 25, 2008

Sunday's Signpost


I just love hand-made signs like this one at San Francisco International Airport, by the Southwest Airlines baggage claim. This tells me that they care about the customer experience. And as Seth Godin notes in this post, sometimes handmade is what gets noticed.
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Thursday, May 22, 2008

Visitor motivations, part 5

This is the fifth and final installment from my podcast with Dr. John Falk. You can listen to the interview using the player in the right sidebar. UPDATE: John's new book is now available from Left Coast Press (May 2009): Identity and the Museum Visitor Experience.


John's most recent work deals with the role of identity in visitor motivation—trying to answer the questions: Why do people come to places like museums? What are they trying to accomplish? What exactly do they learn?

Here is the profile of the fifth group:
Group #5—Spiritual Pilgrims: These are people who visit a museum to escape, get away, contemplate, etc. They are not there for the content. They are there for the aesthetics or to get in touch with the past, something greater than themselves. [Researchers Catherine Cameron and John Gatewood call them numen seekers. (Numen, "presence", is a Latin term for the power of either a deity or a spirit that is present in places and objects.) Cameron and Gatewood identified numen seekers at Gettysburg National Monument.]

Maps: Spiritual Pilgrims might use a map on a first visit to find their way to a special place. Since they tend to be frequent visitors and members, they don't need much wayfinding after that.

Audio tours/self-guided tours: John said that this group is unlikely to use these. If you've read all these posts, you might remember that only one group is likely to use these: Experience Seekers (tourists). Knowing this is helpful for two reasons. 1) You can target the messages to the group most likely to be listening. 2) You can decide if you really need one of these, depending on how many Experience Seekers your site attracts.

Seating: They are extremely likely to be using your seating. They might even buy a memorial bench. Keep this group in mind when purchasing benches or trying to sell them via Development.

Museum store: All groups like the store, according to John. I think Spiritual Pilgrims might purchase books or CDs that extend their aesthetic experience.

Marketing: To reach Spiritual Pilgrims, advertise in media they are likely to be reading. Within your membership, learn who your Spiritual Pilgrims are, then target your marketing to them, providing inside information on when the quietest times are to visit and lovely places to sit. You can also draw (potentially) new audiences by offering things like yoga or tai chi classes in your aesthetically beautiful spaces or gardens.

Types of institutions/seasonality: Children's museums, science centers, and very busy tourist attractions are much less likely to draw Spiritual Pilgrims. You will won't see them during busy vacation times, as they want to get away from the crowds.

Read the other posts here:
#1 Explorers
#2 Experience Seekers
#3 Professional/Hobbyists
#4 Facilitators

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Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Visitor motivations, part 4

This is the fourth installment from my podcast with Dr. John Falk. You can listen to the interview using the player in the right sidebar.

UPDATE: John's new book is now available from Left Coast Press (May 2009): Identity and the Museum Visitor Experience.

John's most recent work deals with the role of identity in visitor motivation—trying to answer the questions: Why do people come to places like museums? What are they trying to accomplish? What exactly do they learn?


Here is more on the fourth group his research identified:
Group #4—Facilitators: These are either parents facilitating a visit for their children, or adults bringing another person to the museum. The key to this group is that they are there for someone else's benefit, whether that's a child, friend, or relative. They might feel that a museum is good for their child's education (or experience), or because Aunt Sally is in town and she loves art museums. If asked whether they themselves like art, they would say, "Oh, it's okay (or "I can take it or leave it"), but Aunt Sally really loves it so that's why we came." What's different about this group is that they were motivated to visit for someone else's benefit, and will often let that person drive the agenda.

Maps: Facilitators might use maps or wayfinding to determine what things are particularly beneficial to see. They also might scan for special activities to drop in on that their children would enjoy.

Audio tours/self-guided tours: Facilitators are unlikely to use these. For a special exhibition, the focal person might be encouraged to use one if it would add to their enjoyment.

Seating: They might take advantage of seating, if the focal person or child gets engrossed in something and they have to wait.

Museum store: All groups like the store, according to John. Facilitators would probably also let the focal person drive the shopping agenda, or might look for something to extend that day's learning for their child.

Marketing: To reach Facilitators who are parents, advertise in a local parents' publication. Tourist-related marketing will probably also reach them, if they are helping to plan a visit. Offer guides on your website to help them plan a facilitated visit, to get the most for their time.

Types of institutions/seasonality: All types of informal learning sites attract Facilitators. Just remember that—while you will see more family groups during vacation periods—they aren't all Facilitators.

Coming up in the last post of this series, learn more about Spiritual Pilgrims.

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Sunday, May 18, 2008

Sunday's Signpost


If I were the produce guy, would I be more or less likely to close the gate? Hmmm...
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Friday, May 16, 2008

Visitor motivations, part 3

This is the third installment from my podcast with Dr. John Falk. You can listen to the interview using the player in the right sidebar.

UPDATE: John's new book is now available from Left Coast Press (May 2009): Identity and the Museum Visitor Experience.

John's most recent work deals with the role of identity in visitor motivation—trying to answer the questions: Why do people come to places like museums? What are they trying to accomplish? What exactly do they learn?

Here is more on the third group:
Group #3—Professional/Hobbyists: These are people who are experts or highly knowledgeable about the topic. They are the museum staffers who visit other museums when on vacation. They are pretty focused in their visit, as they are using it to further their knowledge about the topic. Their goal might be very specific, like to review what Caribbean tropical fish look like to prepare for an upcoming scuba diving trip, or to buy rare plants for their home garden. They could have a family with them but will probably decide which parts of the museum or attraction are most important to see to further their own knowledge.

Maps: Professional/Hobbyists will use maps and wayfinding to help them locate areas of interest and move through the site efficiently. (They might also be analyzing the effectiveness of these items, which I do at every single venue I visit.)

Audio tours/self-guided tours: John said that this group is unlikely to use these. (Now I don't feel so guilty for passing them up.)

Seating: They might take advantage of seating, depending on how long they plan to spend and how large the site is.

Museum store: All groups like the store, according to John. My guess is that Professional/Hobbyists will be looking for items like books or DVDs that delve deep into the topic, to take home for reference. As a member of this group I love to bring home a hat or other item to remember my visit and support the museum.

Marketing: To reach Professional/Hobbyists, you have to work a little bit harder if they aren't already members. Use Craig's List, local hobby groups, and national hobby-related magazines to advertise special programs. A "curator's club" is perfect for this group. Higher-level classes, like the Master Gardener programs offered at many botanical gardens, cater to this group.

Types of institutions/seasonality: All types of informal learning sites can attract Professional/Hobbyists. You will probably see less of them during vacation times, as they don't want to be bothered by crowds.

Coming up in the next post, learn more about Facilitators.

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Sunday, May 04, 2008

Sunday's signpost


Even the smallest detail can add to your ambience. Here at Oceanaire Restaurant, even the ladies' room door is part of the experience.
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Thursday, May 01, 2008

Visitor motivations, part 2

This is the second installment from my podcast with Dr. John Falk. You can listen to the interview using the player in the right sidebar.

UPDATE: John's new book is now available from Left Coast Press (May 2009): Identity and the Museum Visitor Experience.

John's most recent work deals with the role of identity in visitor motivation—trying to answer the questions: Why do people come to places like museums? What are they trying to accomplish? What exactly do they learn?

Here is more on the second group:

Group #2—Experience Seekers: These are the people, also known as tourists, who are collecting experiences. They are looking to be able to say, "Been there, done that." (Which is not to say they don't enjoy or value the experience they're having.) They are more focused than the first group— Explorers—as they have an agenda and often a time frame. Their goal is to see all the highlights of that museum. They may also have a family in tow, but they direct the agenda with their goal of seeing all the "important things" that museum is known for. Experience Seekers who are museum-goers think that museums are important cultural attractions. They might ask, when arriving in a city, "What is there to do in Pittsburgh?" and then will want to check those items off their list.

Maps: Experience Seekers will use maps and wayfinding to help them locate the highlights.

Audio tours/self-guided tours: If these tours feature the highlights of that museum's collection, this group will be very likely to use them to make their visit more efficient.

Seating: Might need seating, if the museum is large and the highlights are spread out.

Museum store: All groups like the store, according to John. My guess is that Experience Seekers will be looking for items like Markers (t-shirts, mugs, hats) as well as Local Products that they can't get at home (see Chapter 14 in my book for more details on this). They might also value Pieces-of-the-rock* for their authenticity, or Symbolic Shorthand* as gag gifts. They'd also be very likely to use unique-to-your-site photo opportunities so they can show that they've "been there, done that."

Marketing: You're probably already pitching your museum to Experience Seekers if you do any kind of tourist advertising. The pitch to Experience Seekers, "Don't leave Pittsburgh without seeing our museum! Highlights tours available daily at 11 and 1."

Types of institutions/seasonality: All types of museums can attract Experience Seekers, but you're more likely to see them if you're in a town or city that draws tourists (or does heritage tourism well, like these towns just named the country's Dozen Distinctive Destinations.) You'll have a higher proportion of them during vacation times.

* Markers are logo items. Local Products are food or crafts unique to that region. Symbolic shorthand are what we typically think of as souvenirs, cheap plastic trinkets, like a mini Statue of Liberty, or salt-and-pepper shakers shaped like the Eiffel Tower.

Coming up in the next post, learn more about Professional/Hobbyists.

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