If they download it, will they come?

In this post we are going to continue to take a closer look at a question from the recent survey completed at the museum over January and February 2014. The question was: “The Museum is developing a range of mobile tours of the exhibitions and outdoor sites (including the vessels). Which of the following statements best describes you in relation to this area?”

  • I would prefer to download the tour to my smart device before I visit the museum.
  • I would prefer to download the tour when I purchase a ticket at the door.
  • I would prefer to borrow a museum device.
  • I’m not interested in a mobile tour.

The responses that we received to this question over the course of the survey have highlighted what is an increasing trend in cultural institutions the world over.  Just under half of the respondents to this question in the survey (42%) said that they would prefer to download the tour to their own device before even arriving at the museum.  This favors the Bring Your Own Device model (BYOD) of delivery for digital content in the museum.  In addition to this, a further 15% of respondents indicated that they would still like to BYOD but would prefer to download the tour when they purchased the ticket at the door. This tells us that 57% of people surveyed would not only download the tour, but also would prefer to use their own devices within the museum environment rather than to borrow one that is supplied and subsidized by the museum.  The BYOD model of content delivery is one that is gaining a foothold within cultural institutions around the world and it comes as no surprise that this has come out the most popular with those surveyed. We also asked our respondents to give a reason for their choice, some of the responses given in support of the BYOD option were:

  • ‘To be more organized.’
  • ‘It’s easier to plan my visit.’
  • ‘To be well prepared for the day, especially with children.’

All of this being said, what of the other 43% of respondents, what did they say? There was still a strong showing for the more traditional option of borrowing a device from the museum to stimulate the digital engagement, 24% of respondents told us that they would actually prefer to borrow a device from the museum, reasons given ranged from not wanting to forget theirs or that it was easier to use this options with kids. Then still 19% percent of people surveyed indicated that they weren’t interested in using a mobile tour at all advising comments like, ‘Distracting, Impersonal’ and ‘Independence, go at my own pace’.  Despite this, the results from this section of the survey are still incredibly positive with a total of 81% of respondents telling us that they would engage with mobile content whether it was delivered via a BYOD model or by the more traditional method of borrowing a device from the museum on the day. What this has shown is that there is a positive feeling out there towards mobile guides and the integration of digital technology and engagement within the museum, and it certainly seems that if they download it, they will indeed come. Jonathon Cant. Feb 2014.

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4 thoughts on “If they download it, will they come?

  1. lyndakelly61 says:

    Nice write-up Jonathon – thanks. At the conference here we’re having quite the discussion about BYOD with various differing sets of stats presented both for and against. One of the delegates mentioend that Samsung is now talking about CYOD – choose your own device – which I think is a nice way of conceptualising these findings (and the ways we might add mobile to the visit mix). BTW from the online survey the figures were much the same: 46% want to download tour before a visit and 23% download to their device when purchasing a ticket. The slight differences may reflect the fact that these people were completing the survey online. Cheers!

  2. Nancy Proctor says:

    BYOD or not, a minority of museum visitors take digital mobile tours – in most cases below 10%; BYOD apps less than 5%. I would be very careful about basing serious business decisions on this sort of self-reported data; people are notoriously bad at predicting their behavior in surveys, mobile or otherwise.

    • lyndakelly61 says:

      Couldn’t agree more Nancy – many times I have timed people in galleries and when asked they always over-estimate their time spent and are surprised when they are told how long they actually (didn’t) spend. To me these results show that people are more than interested in being in control of their own experiences. I’m now totally convinced that it is the roll-out strategy that is of critical importance as a way for visitors to our physical sites. In the future these guides will be expected as part of the visit , not as an add-on.
      I know that from the Alexander mobile website (that contained all of the A/B text plus audio) that was developed by the Australian Museum stats showed that while people download the guide while at the exhibition they didn’t actually look at it until later – and they looked at pretty much most of it. Jen may have some more to add here about that. Maybe we need to think about providing content for after the visit and not necessarily during the visit?
      Also came across this interesting post about the Louvre “app”, How can the world’s best [sic] be the world’s worst?:

      “When we finished our visit, I handed these Nintendo devices back in and provided some feedback. Initially the response was a standard “OK, thanks”, but I said a little more firmly “No, they are really bad, hard to use and confusing”. I then got a great bout of honesty, being told “Yes, we know, none of the customers like them, many of us staff cannot use them. They were from Head Office. They never come down here, they don’t know what it’s like to use them here.”.

      Much food for thought and thanks for taking the time to comment.

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