Audience Consultation at Wallington, National Trust
Audience Consultation Programme –
This case study highlights the value of listening to your visitors.
Wallington, National Trust
Wallington, a National Trust property in Northumberland, commissioned Flo-culture to undertake a programme of audience consultation. The focus of the consultation was on what should be done with the newly acquired West Wing of the property. This work formed part of the Master Planning process for the Mansion House and its future development.
Our starting point was to collect ideas from the whole property team. This included the steering group, staff and volunteers. This helped us establish a foundation of initial ideas. We used this to construct an audience consultation framework. This was used to inform questions and conversations with visitors. With any consultation, it is always important to place the questions and conversation in context.
We decided to provide that context and stimulate interesting conversations by taking small groups of visitors on private tours of the West Wing in its pre ‘renovated’ state. This had the bonus of providing a special ‘behind the scenes’ experience – everyone loves them! Visitors signed up to participate in one of the tours on the day of their visit. Groups were shown around the rooms and told stories about the family and various items in the collection. After the tour, they were invited to provide feedback on a series of questions we had devised. The questions were designed to capture visitor profiles, motivations for visiting and experience preferences. They also provided feedback on the types of stories and interpretation approaches they found most engaging.
The data collected through this approach was hugely valuable and gave new insights into the themes and ideas visitors found particularly interesting. This included a desire to participate in more ‘behind the scenes’ experiences and an interest in seeing ‘all the layers of history’ in a single room, not just a single period or moment in time.
“They [the Flo-culture team] engaged enthusiastically with the content as well as the process and quickly gained an understanding of the how the House and the National Trust works. Again this was critical to the success of the work – they were at the heart of the project rather than being in a remote office number-crunching the data.”
Gillian Mason, Visitor Engagement Manager, Wallington
The feedback and data collected through this audience consultation process and the resulting recommendations were used to inform Wallington’s interpretation and audience engagement strategy.