Word travels fast. And, in our modern, connected world, this is more apparent than ever. With the popularization of websites such as TripAdvisor and Yelp, online reviews have become a way for consumers to share their thoughts on places and businesses and to make sure they have the best experiences possible. These review websites can be just as valuable for museums and cultural attractions as they are for restaurants and hotels.
Because of this, online reviews have also shown their overall influence on how organizations operate, with many utilizing online reviews as a way to increase the interaction and input they receive from their customers; visitors, members, and patrons. Additionally, growing numbers of visitors are starting to buy their tickets through 3rd-party sites like TripAdvisor, and the power of these channels is not to be underestimated.
THE ERA OF SOCIAL INFLUENCE.
According to TripAdvisor research, over 97% of customers read other travelers' online reviews before planning a trip, and 44% will reference reviews before selecting which attractions they’ll visit. The reality today is that today’s consumer is more social, has more options, and only a click, tap, or swipe away from seeing what others say. It’s more important than ever to monitor your organization’s online representation and make the most of online review sites. Even as far back as 2011 when social media was younger, experts reported that “when carefully deconstructed, sites like TripAdvisor provide valuable insight.” Flash forward to today, when social media adoption and influence is undeniable. In this era of social influence, there are countless opportunities for benefit to cultural organizations.
HOW THEY DID IT AT THE BRITISH MUSEUM.
Many are realizing that there's incredible value in this data — museums and attractions that listen to their audience can continually improve their service and understand what truly resonates with them. As proven by The British Museum, through listening to online reviews, they can specifically cater various strategies and actions to what the customers say they want to see changed as opposed to guessing.
What used to be the work of focus groups that would provide hypothetical situations has traded places with genuine, unfiltered data and insights, allowing organizations to adjust their practices in real-time according to how audiences perceive them.
WAIT, OUR VISITORS SAID WHAT?
Through analyzing feedback, museums can also look at conversation topics, analyze recurring trends over time, and provide accurate information about the overall visitor experience to other museum employees. After collecting all of this data, museums can then construct different ways to directly address the needs of their visitors — for example, writing visitors preemptively with an email of highlights or by providing pamphlets or offering a multilingual mobile app upon arrival to meet their needs and tackle some of the pain points that visitors have raised.
Looking more into the reviews can also give you insight into aspects of your organization that you might not be paying attention to. For example, The British Museum analyzed the data left on online reviews and found out that “visitors care more about temperatures than crowds. Toilets have a bigger impact on satisfaction rating than object labels. Spanish-speaking visitors are more likely to mention tours and audio guides than any other nationality” and that “Non-English speakers are more reliant on the audio guide” for instance. These insights and opinions would have otherwise gone undiscovered, further making a strong case for having a strategy to leverage user-generated content from review websites.
SOME HELP FROM YELP.
While TripAdvisor might be a dominant travel review site, Yelp may also provide similar opportunities for your museum. With over of 100 million monthly users and reviews, the Yelp community can give you access to more visitors comments and unexpected insights. 90% of Yelp users say that positive reviews influence their decision making and other research has shown that a one-star increase in a Yelp rating leads to a 5%+ percent increase in revenue for restaurants. What might the same look like for museums and cultural attractions?
MORE CHANNELS. MORE OPPORTUNITIES.
There are many different ways that you can apply these strategies to your museum and culture organization. This is why understanding the importance of online reviews, and your visitor’s commentary is essential for those looking for new methods to learn from their customers. Whether you utilize TripAdvisor or Yelp, we recommend looking into the data being posted online to find new ways to expand and innovate your own practice!