Monday, 1 February 2010

What people will pay for

When I scrolled through my overnight tweets this morning (yes, this is another Twitter-related post) I saw this, from Will Cary, the membership manager at Brooklyn Museum:

And just now I spotted this, re-tweeted from the Brooklyn Museum account:

The show they're talking about is 'Who Shot Rock and Roll', which closes today in the US (yesterday for us New Zealanders). It's been very popular, and it sounds like lines to get into the show for its final weekend are significant.

One of the benefits of a Brooklyn Museum membership is that you get to bypass the lines. A normal individual membership costs $55. Suggested admission at the Museum is $10 for adults. This weekend, more than six times the normal number of people bought a membership, presumably so they could bypass the lines. I can't see any special promotion of the queue-skipping powers of membership attached to the exhibition promotion on the Museum website, but it's strongly featured on their Twitter feed; lots of people are talking about the show on Twitter as well.

It's tempting to see this as a little parable about what will tip people over from thinking about buying a membership to actually doing it. They're not buying a discount on entry (a normal Friends benefit in New Zealand) - they'e buying something that gives them the advantage of easier access.

Contrast this with City Gallery Wellington's current Yayoi Kusama show. Friends of the Gallery get a 20% discount on the entry charge ($8 instead of $10) but no queue-skipping privileges. There don't appear to be any members-only days or extended hours for Friends - based on the above, I predict that this would have attracted a bunch of new sign-ups, especially if implemented after people had seen the crazy free Wednesday queues. It might be something for galleries hosting blockbusters to look into - after all, sometimes there's nothing nicer than flashing a card and getting waved through ....


Robyn said...

I would happily shell out the $45 for a City Gallery Friends membership if it meant no queuing.

It doesn't cost the gallery anything more, and it's a nice way of getting something really enjoyable from your membership (beyond the usual warm fuzzy feelings).

bestof3 said...

Hey Robyn

Oh, those warm fuzzies!

It occurred to me that of course logistically this would be tricky in the case of Kusama - even if you jumped the plebian queue, you'd still have to stand in the members queue to pay for entry (cp. Brooklyn Museum, where entry is free, it's just the lines you're escaping).

Ideally,, being a Friend would mean never paying entry fees. Or, less idealistically, you could pay online & flash your ticket when you walk in...

William said...

Courtney, thanks for the shout-out. This weekend was one of those times where I was extremely happy to work in membership. We spent a lot of time planning out the logistics (across several departments) of line-skipping for members, and this time it really paid off. Our members were thrilled and grateful.

To be honest, the Museum's lobby is so big that it usually isn't crowded enough for line-skipping to be a real privilege of membership. But once in a while, we'll have a weekend like this past one where our planning really makes a difference.