Summer Sizzle!

Another Staycation Summer?

In 2009, some museums, and many zoos and aquariums, had record membership years because of the ‘staycation’ phenomenon – people trying to save money by staying close to home. Suddenly, belt tightening meant a boon year for the great value that membership and unlimited free visits offer a cost-conscious family. We were all sick of the word ‘staycation’ by the end of the year!

Well, get ready, it sounds like 2011 could shape up to be a similar type of year. Reports indicate that 50% of Americans are saying “Nope!” to travel vacations this summer. Hopefully, they will be saying “Yes!” to memberships.

So, be prepared. Here are a few tips to plan for what could be a great summer of membership sales:

· Hire up! Have dedicated staff ready to sell memberships at your gate – approach the visitors BEFORE they pay for admission.

· Sign up! Have plenty of signage that tells people to “Join here. Get in FREE!” Signage helps make the sale.

· Be ready with some quirky, fun, spur of the moment offers for members that keeps them coming back and make them feel special – and willing to renew when the time comes. Here are some ideas…

o One Boston museum sent out a timely email telling members that they could bring extra guests all weekend long on Father’s Day weekend – up to 6 guests. How nice for Dad!

o Put on an old-fashioned ice cream social for members – get ice cream donated, get volunteers to scoop. Everyone will have a feel good moment!

o Last summer, a Midwest museum that was under construction hosted an outdoor movie night for members. Members, armed with chairs, blankets and picnic baskets, sat under the stars on the park lawn to watch a movie alfresco.

o Make your OWN discount offer – don’t let others make money on your memberships. Send a great, colorful, engaging membership discount offer to your lapsed members and get them back, rather than taking only 25% of the revenue on a membership by going through an outside couponing company. Houston Zoo did this – and kept the money raised for their animals!

Sometimes it’s the little things that make a difference to our members, and provide memories that will last… at least until renewal time!