Children's museums face a unique challenge in their membership efforts: their primary constituents are kids who grow up and don't engage with the children's museums they loved so much after elementary school. As a result, development and membership teams for children's museums have to think further outside the box than any other type of arts & cultural organization to keep an engaged supporter base.
The turnover rate for members and donors at children's museums and similar organizations is higher than your traditional museum; therefore retention and loyalty strategies need to be innovative, and the value needs to be clearly communicated. In order to stay relevant to meet young families where they are, a seamless membership and loyalty program is critical.
In this blog post, we’ll explore how to combat different membership challenges and how PassPlay can drastically help incentivize and loyalize members and increase membership retention rates.
It is no secret that members are one of the most valuable assets for children’s museums in terms of value to both the museum and to members.
For museums, their members are their biggest advocates and greatest strength in terms of new member acquisition. These families are repeat visitors, donors, and supporters in their mission. Not to mention, this is earned revenue that development professionals can count on.
For members, families have an educational and fun place to take their children to be entertained for hours. The value of the membership proves its worth as the price per visit decreases as often as families go. Of course there are other perks that come with the membership, but value that goes beyond dollars is the sense of community that families and kids can find at children’s museums.
Clearly the value is there, but demonstrating that value repeatedly to members, as well as keeping them coming back to a children's museum often enough that they sustain the value is cost per visit that perhaps once convinced them to sign up in the first place, is where challenges arise.
Let's look at a few key challenges and solutions children's museums can use to solve them.
Challenge #1: Kids grow up and families no longer feel a need to be members
The biggest challenge that children’s museums face is that children grow up and parents no longer need to maintain membership status with the museum. With less frequent visits, often even once kids hit school-age, families perceive less cost-saving value from their membership. This leaves membership and development professionals in need of a different strategy to make sure they can get new membership and not rely solely on renewals.
Staff time is critical for small teams who constantly need to be working on new acquisition strategies. This is why you need more than just your team working for you – you need your members to be your biggest advocates in helping to recruit new families to join.
So how can we close this gap?
One way to help foster member loyalty is through digital memberships and a strong loyalty program that keeps members coming back again and again.
To solve the staff time issue, more and more museums are turning to digital membership cards. They are proven to cut staff time drastically because they won’t be spending hours stuffing envelopes or sending out renewal notices. Less time spent on these tasks and acquiring new members means more time on providing value to kids and their parents.
Challenge #2: Older donors don’t get involved and become members
Another challenge that children’s museums face is that their target audience is much smaller, pun intended, and they cannot rely on other demographics for new members and donors. However, a new trend is emerging that gets adults feeling like kids again – after hours programming. Check out what the Children’s Museum of Indianapolis and the Children’s Museum of the Lowcountry are doing for adults in their communities.
After hours events involving food and drinks are a great way to engage new people and invite them to check out the museum and be part of the mission. Programs like these can open the door to reach a future member or donor – and if you offer events for them to attend themselves, even if they don’t have children, they may be tempted to join. A young professional who has an awesome time at an event like “Night at the Brewseum” will be more likely to bring their own children back when the time comes. Having a special membership and loyalty program available just for people in this category, and in the grandparent category, can open the doors to more demographics than children’s museums typically reach.
Challenge #3 A large amount of visitors are from out of town
This is a common challenge for all arts & cultural organizations. Tourists love coming to museums while traveling, and while this is great for visitation numbers, the amount of engagement that comes from these guests is limited. However, there are ways to still tap into this type of patron. For children’s museums that are located in major tourist destinations, offering special membership programs for out of town visitors and loyalty programs can keep local friends involved.
Similar to an out of town membership at a social club, children’s museum membership programs should have a variety of different levels. One level of membership that is easy to include in a traditional annual dues-based membership is for a non-resident. This can be a less expensive option that allows visitors to feel included and aware of events for when they do come to town. They may even plan visits around the program schedule and invite local friends to join. A digital membership and loyalty program will reward members for coming to visit and entice them to make more frequent trips.
Local parents who play host to family and friends love having a guest pass option as part of their membership. But if these visits become frequent visitors, they may run out of passes and need a different plan. A non-resident membership level would solve this problem, but a membership loyalty program that offers additional guest passes as perk is another option. This keeps members renewing at a higher level and further engaged.
So how can children’s museums meet their visitors where they are and offer an innovative membership and loyalty solution to foster new relationships?
Meet PassPlay: The Digital Pass and Loyalty Solution You’ve Been Waiting For
Enter Speak Creative’s new digital membership and loyalty solution that encourages people to become members and keeps them engaged and coming back. PassPlay is not the first digital membership solution out there, but it is the most unique in that its offerings go far beyond just a digital card. So why PassPlay? Check it out below:
PassPlay integrates with all the major membership systems, including Altru, Centaman, Gateway, ACME Ticketing, Tessitura, Accesso, and many more.
Native Mobile Wallet:
Every membership includes the option for members to load their digital passes into Apple Wallet or Google Wallet.
Value Beyond the Pass:
PassPlay’s best-in-class architecture keeps members engaged beyond the digital pass. Members can access a map of your attraction, upcoming events, and even loyalty rewards.
Automated Renewal Notifications:
Automated push notifications remind your members to renew their membership. Members can tap on the notification to step straight into a renewal purchase, and their pass will automatically update once the renewal is purchased.
By integrating PassPlay with an existing membership system, children’s museums drive engagement among their visitors, members, and donors all while saving staff resources and streamlining operations. Digital cards reduce costs and free up time and budget for enhanced membership programs that members can learn about all in the same app.
Innovative initiatives like PassPlay also foster a sense of community and loyalty among members, providing exclusive access to events, additional activities on site, discounts, and other perks. By embracing technology and digital transformation, your children’s museum will provide a new and exciting experience for your members and become a must visit organization.
PassPlay is brought to you by Speak Creative, a proud supporter and digital partner of the Association of Children’s Museums.
Try PassPlay out for yourself.
Children's museums and other visitor attraction/cultural destinations can ramp up member loyalty and retention with ease with PassPlay. Learn more at passplay.io or schedule a demo today to see why cultural attractions across the nation are making the switch to digital membership and loyalty.