Case study: Visitor Experience Plan

A 5-year Visitor Experience Plan for MOTAT

Bringing everything relating to MOTAT’s visitor experience together in a strategic roadmap for the whole organisation.

A collaboration of InsightUnlocked and Sally Manuireva Consulting.

Client: MOTAT, Museum of Transport and Technology, Auckland

Logo of the Museum of Transport and Technology (MOTAT)

Spread across 40 acres and two museum sites plus its collections stores, MOTAT, the Museum of Transport and Technology in Auckland, is the country’s largest transport and technology museum of its kind and offers experiences for visitors of all ages. MOTAT’s vision is to use past, present and future Kiwi technology to educate and inspire the innovators of tomorrow. Since this vision was articulated in 2014 MOTAT has been on a journey to transform from a “museum of things” to a “lightbulb institution” that is audience focused, vision based and has a transformative impact on its community.

Challenge: Create a whole-organisation approach to the visitor experience

MOTAT had undertaken a range of useful initiatives to advance its audience development and visitor experience. However, it felt that these could be more closely aligned and have a stronger shared focus on future plans. To accelerate achieving its strategic objectives, MOTAT was seeking a clearer direction and more unified approach to the visitor experience across all three of the museum’s hubs (experience, collection and business services) – a strategic roadmap for the whole organisation. 

Approach: Strategic and co-created with the organisation

In a first in-depth working session with Steven Fox, General Manager Museum Experience, we established MOTAT’s challenges and needs. From there, the idea of a 5-Year Visitor Experience Plan took shape  – a plan that closely linked to the museum’s vision and brought everything related to the visitor experience together in one place.

A key focus was to gain broad buy-in for the plan. Everyone in the museum touches on the experience of the visitor in some way so it was important to create a plan for the whole museum with strong links to the collection. 

After an analysis of the museum’s strategic documents and its previous visitor related initiatives, as well as some site visits, we developed a question framework to structure the Plan. We then took a co-creation approach involving staff from across the organisation to get broad input early on and ran a range of focused workshops with various teams. 

Visitor Experience Plan question framework

From this we developed a Visitor Experience Plan that describes the aspiration – MOTAT’s visitor experience at its best, articulates the audience strategy, maps out themes and priorities in a roadmap for the next 5 years as well as provides a decision making tool supporting staff in applying the Plan in practical decision making. Working with Steven and his senior team throughout, we checked back with the teams for their feedback before finalising it. To accompany the final detailed Plan, we developed a one-page visualisation that can be used as a hand-out for staff, a visual on the intranet and a wall poster as easy, at-a-glance reference and for broad presence of the Plan. 

Implementation: Bringing the Plan to life

A strategy is only as good as its implementation, so we developed an Activation Programme to empower staff to take ownership of the visitor experience and to actively use the 5-Year Plan. The Activation Programme now unfolds in several phases from communicating the Plan, to starting its application until it reaches the stage of “embedded practice.” It includes a staff feedback loop and a phase to refresh the Visitor Experience Plan for the following year, as required.

Outcome: Jointly owned across the organisation

The first step of the Activation was the launch of the Plan. For this, MOTAT closed a little earlier one afternoon to allow all staff to attend a presentation by Steven, supported by the Chief Executive and the leaders of the Collections and the Business Services departments, demonstrating their joint support for the visitor experience. 

Judging from the questions and reactions from staff, the Visitor Experience Plan is off to a great start. 

Steven Fox, General Manager Museum Experience, with Sally and Sabine at the staff launch of the Visitor Experience Plan in MOTAT’s Aviation Hall

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