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Transforming the Visitor Experience with a Unified System

Dana A.

Dana AstmannContent Producer, Tessitura Network

TitleTransforming the Visitor Experience with a Unified System

Published11/16/2018

Read/View Time4 min


It’s a familiar challenge.

“We originally had five different systems across the organization that didn't talk to each other,” says Laura Wakelin of the UK’s Black Country Living Museum.

Matthew Briney describes a similar situation at George Washington’s Mount Vernon: “We had separate systems for our inn and restaurant. We had separate systems for our ticketing. We had separate systems for our development and membership.” 

“Tessitura has allowed all that data to go into one place... allowing us to see the life cycle of the customer as they go through and enjoy our estate.”

When an organization has multiple systems to manage different business areas, the visitor experience can be frustrating. A day’s outing can require multiple interactions and transactions. The admissions desk might not have a record of a recent phone conversation. Add-ons or bundled transactions might become complicated.

In addition, disjointed systems can make it impossible to personalize interactions or communications, because there is no complete record of a visitor’s journey. As Wakelin pointed out, having multiple systems “wasn't particularly helpful when we were trying to find out who our visitors were.”

Black Country Living Museum

A unified system like Tessitura can smooth out those points of friction by bringing together all of an organization’s core business areas: CRM, admissions and ticketing, membership, fundraising, resource scheduling, and more. Visitors already see your organization as a single entity, and a unified system can let their experience reflect that view.

After the Black Country Living Museum implemented Tessitura, Wakelin said: “we’re finding that we know so much more about our visitors. It's also really helped us streamline our entry and our admissions process.”

“We’re finding that we know so much more about our visitors. It’s also really helped us streamline our entry and our admissions process.”

Briney describes the shift at Mount Vernon: “Tessitura has allowed all that data to go into one place... allowing us to see the life cycle of the customer as they go through and enjoy our estate. Whether it’s from the ticketing process, or they later become a member, they shop at our shop, or they patronize our inn, we’re able to really customize that experience.”

George Washington’s Mount Vernon

Tony Palombi, Assistant Director of Constituent Services at the John G. Shedd Aquarium in Chicago, called it a “game changer” to “incorporate all these separate systems we had into one very robust database where everything is together.” For his role in customer service, he said, ”It was really about service. It was about being able to have that history on each guest and make a personal connection.”

Palombi gave an example: “We got an email from a member who was asking about an evening event. And I was able to pull up that record and not only tell them, ‘Yes, you get in free,’ but: ‘Here’s when your membership expires, here’s how many people you get in on your membership.’ And I saw that they had requested new cards to be mailed to them, so I asked, ‘Did you get your cards?’“ Palombi appreciated being “able to utilize almost every tab of their record to not only answer their initial question, but all the questions they might have had after that.”

It was a “game changer” to “incorporate all these separate systems into one very robust database where everything is together.”

For busy organizations such as the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum, a unified system helps staff anticipate capacity. “We book school groups in the education department, but all other groups go through group sales,” explains the Intrepid’s Anne Mullane-Stevens. When they had separate systems, “we didn’t have the bigger picture of everybody coming through the group entry area.”

Now that the Intrepid uses Tessitura, staff can run a single report to show all upcoming group visits, regardless of whether they were booked through the education department or the group sales team. Not only can they communicate with the security department to schedule an extra officer and open the area early, but they can also let schools and groups know that the area will be open early. “So we can really get people through the door, and it just gives them a better visitor experience when they’re not waiting 20 minutes to get into the museum,” Mullane-Stevens says.

Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum

Melissa Payne, Sales Manager at the Woody Guthrie Center in Tulsa, Okla., appreciates being able to offer a smoother transaction to visitors entering the Center. “We can do memberships and concert tickets, or even a donation, from the same screen, which is very helpful.... The sales associates have talked about how much better it is to just be able to do everything at the same time.” And that seamless transaction doesn’t just save staff time; it simplifies the visitor’s experience at the admissions desk.

Moving to a unified system has helped the Mystic Aquarium make several improvements to the visitor experience. “Before we had Tessitura, the guest journey was a little more difficult,” explains Melanie Evans, Guest Services Director: even visitors who purchased tickets online in advance had to stop at the booth to exchange their receipts for a day-of ticket, and then had to get that ticket validated at the gate. Now, with a unified system that includes access control, any ticket — whether printed at home or purchased within their new Tessitura-integrated app — is ready to be scanned for seamless entry into the aquarium.

Woody Guthrie Center 

The experience for Mystic’s members has improved as well. Previously, members had to stop at the booth with a photo ID to check in when they arrived. “With Tessitura,” Evans says, “we’ve been able to do print-on-demand cards with their photo on it. The have their card, or they can have it on their app, and they just bypass the booth entirely and walk right in.” These changes, she says, “have made everybody’s journey through the Aquarium so much faster” and have reduced lines at the admission booths. “The feedback we’re getting from the members and the guests is that it is so much easier.”

“Before we had Tessitura, the guest journey was more difficult.... The feedback we’re getting from members and guests is that it is so much easier.” 

“Our ability to really understand our visitor was hugely hindered,” said Peter Dickinson of the UK’s Science Museum Group. Now that all five museums under their umbrella are using Tessitura, “We’re now on this amazing journey where we have the data in the system, and we’re learning how we can use that data to drive good decisions that will give our visitors an even better experience of each of the museums in our group.” 

 

Top photo: Mystic Aquarium, © Tracy M. Brown

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