On May 11th, Cuseum, a culture-facing tech startup, welcomed more than 2,000 culture industry stakeholders for a webinar that considered the new future of revenue streams and events. Cuseum’s Dan Sullivan led the British Museum’s Claire Byfield and Tom Knowles as well as FIVESEED CEO Rosie Siemer in a discussion that touched upon monetizing digital content, membership models, and successfully navigating reopenings.
Center Reopening on Membership
For every cultural institution, reopening in compliance with new restrictions will be an unprecedented first step towards a new reality. Inevitably, there will be mistakes and unforeseen kinks to iron out.
For the first few weeks, consider members only soft openings, this will allow institutions to fine tune operations ahead of welcoming the general public. Not only will members appreciate being treated as valued community members, they are more likely to be forgiving and offer quality feedback.
Key Quote: “Plan for members only openings, this allows you to put into place some other [unforeseen] requirements and will make the members feel special.” — Rosie Siemer, FIVESEED Founder & CEO.
Make ‘Emptiness’ a Positive
Health and safety restrictions, the reluctance of many to immediately return to ‘crowded’ spaces, and the absence of overseas tourists, will greatly curtail visitation. Use this emptiness to your advantage by putting people in their comfort zones and creating intimate experiences.
This means segmenting visitation then devising offerings for each group. Create senior only visit slots, family-specific tours, and bespoke experiences for membership.
Key Quote: “Use the situation to your advantage, the intimacy is an advantage…you have an opportunity to really create exclusive offerings and make them available only to corporate partners, to members, to patrons.” — Claire Byfield, Membership Manager and Engagement at the British Museum.
All three panelists warned against discounting the cost of membership. The temptation is understandable given the financial strain facing cultural institutions, however, it risks damaging the brand and sets a dangerous precedent.
Consider offering additional incentives to retain membership, creating new forms of membership — San Antonio Zoo, for instance, is proving successful with a monthly membership priced at $3 per month — and, if necessary, extending memberships.
Key Quote: “Offer other types of incentives, like an extension, a virtual benefit for members who renew. [Discounting] can damage the integrity of the membership…it’s hard to get back.” — Rosie Siemer, FIVESEED Founder & CEO.
Creating engaging and enriching digital content is an excellent start, but at a time when the majority of browsers are consuming content free of charge, the least institutions can ask is for basic user data.
This should form the basis for creating and pricing future digital content. Capture data now and look to build a relationship in the coming weeks and months. Institutions can look to the example of the tech sector which has proved adept at experimenting, tweaking, and revising products based on user data and feedback.
Key Quote: “Any time it comes to experimentation, if you can’t measure the effectiveness [of the digital product] you need to figure out a different way.” — Dan Sullivan, Head of Growth and Partnerships at Cuseum.