Thursday, 18 July 2019

Museum cuts cost of one-day admission to attract visitors

Museum cuts cost of one-day admission to attract more visitors

THE River & Rowing Museum in Henley is to reduce the cost of a single day’s admission in a bid to attract more visitors.

From July 15, entry for adults will cost £9 instead of £12.50 while children will get in for £6 instead of £9.95, which is a 33 per cent discount on the new adult price whereas the old rate was only 20 per cent off.

However, the new fees will no longer allow ticket holders to make unlimited return visits within 12 months of their first.

Anyone wishing to do so will instead have to pay £24 for an adult annual pass or £16 for children.

Those who have a year’s access under the existing structure will be offered a 20 per cent discount when they renew their annual pass for the first time, so an adult will pay £19.20 and a child £12.80.

Although the museum enjoyed a record 118,000 visitors between the start of April last year and the end of March, it says there is still potential to improve and many people were put off by the cost of entry. It recently commissioned a study of 1,000 people living within an hour’s drive from Henley and more than 80 per cent favoured a cheaper day ticket and said the current price was off-putting.

Museum director Sarah Posey said the old annual pass was significantly under-priced compared with similar museums while the new price was still “competitive” and would help to secure the charity’s future.

She said anyone visiting more than twice in a year would still enjoy excellent value for money and the discount for existing ticket holders should encourage them to continue paying for a year’s access.

Dr Posey, who has just marked her first anniversary in post, said: “We have a fantastic programme coming up over the next 12 to 18 months and can better share this with the public when we introduce our new cheaper day tickets.

“I’m delighted that we’re able to offer them as it will give more people the opportunity to try us out and we know through our research that people love us once they make that first visit.

“Aside from some people not having heard of us, which can be addressed through marketing, one barrier to people visiting is that they don’t fully understand what we have to offer.

“They assume that we’re very ‘niche’ and perhaps not for them but once they’ve seen the museum for themselves they love what they find and encourage other people to visit. We really hope that more people will give us a try.

“The new pricing should bring more people in while addressing our ability to be here for the long term because we are concerned, looking to the future, that we remain financially
sustainable.

“We’re a charity that receives almost no public funding and have to ensure we’ve got the income to serve the community for many more years. This should allow us to reach a new audience and increase income so we’re very excited.

“The current annual pass is under-priced, which we’ve known for some time, so we’ve done some very careful benchmarking with other local museums and attractions in planning changes and the new prices remain very competitive.

“For those who come more than twice a year it will represent excellent value for money for unlimited access to the museum, family days and so on.”

The museum will celebrate its 21st anniversary of being opened by the Queen in August and is planning a celebration of this later in the year.

Future attractions include Bears!, an exploration of the role of bears in children’s storytelling, which runs from August until November, and a Christmas exhibition themed around Raymond Briggs’ The Snowman books and animations.

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