A family group enjoy the scrum machine at the World Rugby Museum © World Rugby Museum, Twickenham

World Rugby Museum, Twickenham

Colin Mulberg, 15.08.2012
In visitor-facing projects it is vital to build up detailed profiles of all existing and potential audience groups. Success can depend on really understanding the audiences’ characteristics, what they are interested in and and what makes them tick.

Working with the project team for the redevelopment of the World Rugby Museum at Twickenham Stadium, which is expected to be complete in 2013, we expanded on existing research to develop a more systematic breakdown of audiences

For example, we redefined the specialist audience into distinct categories of rugby fan, each with specific needs. We also identified visitors with little subject interest, visiting with a group or tour party, who are often overlooked in museums.

Borrowing ideas on how businesses get to know their customers, we used a range of personal audience research techniques. The World Rugby Museum commissioned focus groups with users and non-users to explore their feelings and interests.

Key insights came from extensive personal interviews, either at the stadium during match days or away from the ground. Extended observation was critical to understanding the whole visitor experience, from buying a museum ticket to watching families enjoy the scrum machine.

On matchday, the museum’s attendance related as much to what happened outside the entrance as to the displays inside.

The World Rugby Museum also tapped into valuable organisational knowledge about visitors from staff, volunteers and stadium tour guides, a source that is often ignored.

Audience profiles have aided the development of the main storyline and flow for the new museum. The profiles are being used to audit the content and designs as they evolve, to help focus active interpretation and to support marketing when the new museum opens.

Colin Mulberg is a freelance museum consultant specialising in the visitor experience