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Visitor Surveys and Economic Impact

Collecting some basic information about your visitors will help you to complete the economic impact toolkit.


Collecting some basic information about your visitors will help you to complete the economic impact toolkit. Collecting this information can be fairly simple, and is easily completed by museums of any size. This topic is also covered in more depth in section 3 of the Guide to Using the Economic Impact Toolkit.

Key Visitor Information

You don't need to collect a huge amount of information to better understand the economic impact of visitors to your museum. The key pieces of information to gather from visitors are the following:

Their normal place of residence. There is no need to collect detailed address or personal information. It is enough if know if they are from: outside the UK, outside Scotland, outside the local area, or within the local area.

The duration of their stay. If they are not from the local area, it is helpful to find out how long they are staying, whether this is just an afternoon, or a week-long holiday.

The number of nights they are spending in the local area. If a visitor is not based locally, are they staying overnight in your local area? How many nights will they be staying?

The extent to which the museum was the main attraction for their visit. It is important to find out whether visitors (whether local or from farther away) planned to visit your museum, or if they just happened in while already in the area. For visitors from outside the local area, your museum (or the general cultural or heritage offerings locally) may have played some part in their decision to visit.

How to Collect Visitor Information

Ideally, you should ask visitors these questions in person: a friendly staff member or volunteer with a clipboard/tablet and a smile is most likely to get a good sample of visitors efficiently. Where the museum is in a venue with an additional service (such as a library, cafe, or shop), it is best to try and see people within the museum part of the venue.

It isn’t necessary to ask every single visitor to your museum these questions... a sample of your visitors is still valid! For a museum receiving anything up to 10,000 visits per year, a target of 100 responses per year is reasonable.

It is best to sample over the course of the year, on different days of the week, and at different times of the day. A simple way to approach this would be to set one day each month (for example, on the 15th of every month) for collecting visitor information. A staff member or volunteer can set themselves a target of visitors to speak to that day: 100 responses in a year works out at responses from about 8 people per month.