Travel and Leisure shared a great article called 12 Museums and Zoos Where You Can Spend the Night, which describes some of the many overnight opportunities available around the country. Examples range from spending the night on board the world’s oldest active sailing ship (the Star of India) at the the Maritime Museum in San Diego to family and adults-only overnights at the Smithsonian’s National Zoo “Snore and Roar” to the Field Museum of Natural History’s “Dozin’ with the Dinos.”
Overnight programs are a great way to engage your constituents in a new way. But like any program, you want the administrative process to be as seamless as possible so you can focus on what really matters: delivering an excellent and unique experience for your visitors. To that end, you should consider using an event registration and management system with the following features:
- Built-in capacity management and waitlists—procrastinators may be tempted to register when they see that spaces are filling fast!
- Automatic member benefits like discounts or a buy-one/get-one benefit: besides rewarding your existing members, you can convert registrants to members if the offer is enticing enough! (If you don’t want to offer a monetary discount, you can give members priority registration and/or a special members-only “fast lane” check-in.)
- Custom forms. Overnights can require more liability, waiver and policy agreement forms than other programs—you’ll need the flexibility to create all the forms you need, and to ensure that mandatory forms must be completed before a registration can be submitted.
- Quick check-in. Don’t make your guests stand in a long entrance line, holding their sleeping bags and pillows, impatiently waiting to be checked in. Issue one scannable group ticket and move the lines quickly.
- Mobile donations. One of the best times to ask for a donation is when the donor is deeply engaged in your mission. While you don’t want to make guests feel constantly pressured to donate on what should be a fun overnight, judicious donation requests and the ability to collect donations quickly on a mobile device can be very successful.
- Mobile merchandise sales. You might not want your gift shop to stay open and staffed all night. But, with a mobile sales solution, you can sell a selection of merchandise (specially curated for the event) with an iPad and a secure credit card reader.
These are just a few of the issues to consider when you’re planning an overnight program. Please let us know what we missed!