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 Post subject: Professional Courtesy
PostPosted: Thu Sep 26, 2019 7:21 pm 

Joined: Thu Sep 29, 2011 10:17 am
Posts: 230
Location: New York
I am always excited to visit other railroad museums. What do they have, how do they run? I want to learn, maybe even steal some ideas to take home with me. It's usually a fun experience.

So here's something that came up recently at our museum. We were hosting a nearly sold-out, very busy beer tasting event. Things were going great, it was beautiful weather, everyone was having a good time.

I checked the front door to see how we were doing as I had a volunteer stationed there checking ID's and issuing bracelets (because this was an event with alcohol, and it was a condition of our temporary permit). I saw there was an older gentleman standing around with a camera around his neck, looking wistfully up the main line.

"This guy is a member of ________ and he's visiting from __________ and he wants to come in and take pictures," the volunteer said. I looked over at the fellow, who didn't say a word to me.

"Unfortunately, this is a ticketed event, which is part of the admission to the museum," I explained.

"I don't drink," is all he said. Prices were double our normal entry because of the alcohol.

"That's fine, you can purchase a Designated Driver ticket for $15, and still get admission to the museum, our restoration shop, and unlimited train rides."

He turned away from me.

"You can also get a fantastic, unobstructed shot of our train climbing the hill right from our parking lot, if you like," and I gestured to the location.

No response. I looked at the volunteer, we both shrugged, and I went back to the event.

About an half-hour later, I see one of my other volunteers leading the man through the gates and onto the train. He had been working in another part of them museum and had come up to the depot for lunch. "This guy is a member of the __________ Museum and he's visiting from __________ and I'm going to take him through so he can get pictures!" I didn't put up much of a protest because I was busy taking tickets and boarding passengers, but I did whisper in the volunteer's ear, "I had asked him to purchase a ticket for entry, but he wasn't interested." "Well, I'll pay for his ticket, then." and off they went. I didn't see them again after that.

After the event was over, I caught up with the well-meaning volunteer who ushered the man through the gates. "He wanted to get pictures of our equipment and no one was available to escort him to the off-limits areas, so I went with him. He's a member of the _______________ Museum!"

I thanked him for taking the time to show this visitor around, but I explained my displeasure that the visitor was looking for free entry.

"But he's a from the ________ Museum!" the volunteer said.

So what? When I go visit other museums, I don't simply announce that I'm a member of a railroad museum and demand free entry. It's one thing if you drop by on a day a place isn't normally open, and maybe you get lucky and someone is around to show you around. But on a day that's open to the public? You buy a ticket (I've even purchased tickets for trains I have no intention of riding, but will be photographing). Looking for special access? Maybe someone is around to escort you. In either case, you stuff a little something in the donation box as thanks. That is, if you were *truly* interested in preservation, not just someone looking to "take pictures." Not only did this visitor get special access to our museum, he got one of our volunteers to pay for his entry, too (which I politely declined).

What do you think?

-otto-

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—Otto M. Vondrak
President, Rochester & Genesee Valley Railroad Museum
Rochester, N.Y.


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 Post subject: Re: Professional Courtesy
PostPosted: Thu Sep 26, 2019 8:01 pm 

Joined: Thu Feb 12, 2015 5:00 pm
Posts: 20
Otto,

In this day and age when half of the world is staring into a phone, maybe he could have called and mentioned he was interested in coming and taking some pictures? If he checked your website, he would have seen the event scheduled and thought "maybe this isn't a good weekend for this". Good thing is, you guys went above and beyond to accommodate him. No explaining peoples behavior sometimes.
Beer tasting at a train museum. Like the concept.

brian b


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 Post subject: Re: Professional Courtesy
PostPosted: Thu Sep 26, 2019 8:32 pm 

Joined: Mon Dec 18, 2017 11:41 am
Posts: 53
Location: NW Ohio
I have visited IRM twice, and did not announce prior to purchasing my ticket that I was either a RR employee or affiliated with any group. Both times the ticket agent said I could've gotten in for free, but that's not the way to make money as I see it. I would rather support any group by a paid admission, no matter how small, rather than expect a "free ride".


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 Post subject: Re: Professional Courtesy
PostPosted: Thu Sep 26, 2019 8:36 pm 

Joined: Sun Jul 17, 2016 7:58 pm
Posts: 10
Sounds like this guy has done this before, meaning he didn't like your response so he found someone who would give him what he wanted.

If he was in fact an active volunteer with a similar museum, you'd think he'd understand the importance of fund raising events and be willing to shell out $15.

Professional courtesy doesn't mean free admission, especially without advance notice of a visit and during a special event to boot.


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 Post subject: Re: Professional Courtesy
PostPosted: Thu Sep 26, 2019 9:32 pm 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 1:51 pm
Posts: 9280
Location: Somewhere north of Prescott, AZ on the Santa Fe "Peavine"
A couple thoughts:

*It's not "professional courtesy" to just let someone in gratis if they're solely a member of some other place. We're not the Strasburg RR of 1958 selling "executive RR passes" by making every stock-buyer a "Vice President", are we?
*There ARE some "reciprocity agreements" between certain museums/operations (such as some certain trolley museums), and there are discount programs for NRHS members at some places. That's not "professional courtesy."
*If I've done enough for/with an operation that I could at all expect some special treatment, I'm going to have contacted someone in advance to meet me there, or someone's going to have informed a ticket agent or whoever to have a complementary pass waiting for me. Even if a last-second change of plans gives me an opportunity, I'm going there expecting to pay, unless my name and reputation by some miracle precedes me. ("Ross WHO wants to ride the cab?!?")

And lastly:
*If you're holding a special event DURING YOUR REGULAR HOURS/SEASON and an unsuspecting visitor can't gain access to at least a token normal visiting experience without paying a steep mark-up, then you're doing something wrong. Very wrong. The visitor will feel like the victim of a "bait & switch." And saying "we promoted it on social media!" doesn't cut it.
Specific to a "beer tasting": Any such high-end event I've seen has wristbands designating drinkers (whio have had IDs checked by qualified screeners) and designated drivers, and you're given a special event glass--and it's held AFTER regular hours! The surprise visitor has neither? He gets nothing but pictures. (And I've even been, at the request of organizers, a "test" person hiding my wristband and bringing my own glass to check if the staff is obeying the rules.)
Were I in that situation? I might have taken Mr. Visitor aside and said "You know, I could let you in at a regular admission, but there are tables and beer jockey boxes in the way of every decent photo angle....... are you SURE you can't come back another day and time?"


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 Post subject: Re: Professional Courtesy
PostPosted: Thu Sep 26, 2019 9:41 pm 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 1:51 pm
Posts: 9280
Location: Somewhere north of Prescott, AZ on the Santa Fe "Peavine"
brian budeit wrote:
Beer tasting at a train museum. Like the concept.


Some of Britain's largest "real ale" festivals are held at railway museums, specifically the Barrow Hill Roundhouse:

http://www.railalefestival.com/

There are a couple lines that offer "rover" tickets aimed at allowing riders to detrain at villages along the way and sample beers at the local pub(s), then reboard for a ride to the next village.

The RR Museum of Pa. has been overwhelmed by the success of its annual "Rails & Ales" event, with its own separate website for the event:
http://railsandales.org/


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 Post subject: Re: Professional Courtesy
PostPosted: Thu Sep 26, 2019 10:06 pm 

Joined: Fri Mar 29, 2013 11:14 pm
Posts: 108
Seems like yet another case of cheap Railfans. Expect to be given special access for no or little cost simply because they volunteer/work at so and so. We all survive off money. Unless you were invited and told not to pay.....pay up.


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 Post subject: Re: Professional Courtesy
PostPosted: Thu Sep 26, 2019 10:24 pm 

Joined: Tue Aug 02, 2005 1:25 pm
Posts: 5643
Otto -

I once showed up with the family at a museum that had a "special event" that day. I decided the extra cost and the event itself, would detract from the visit, so I opted for another day. When visiting a museum, I always pay the fare or admission. If my membership at HVRM comes up, so be it, but I don't make a point of mentioning it. You handled your situation correctly. As for your member that showed the visitor around and paid his admission, I can't criticize that either. That really was his choice.

Les


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 Post subject: Re: Professional Courtesy
PostPosted: Thu Sep 26, 2019 11:34 pm 

Joined: Fri Aug 20, 2010 8:25 pm
Posts: 311
Otto, in the retail trade this is called "leakage" (aka shoplifting).

Simple fact of life when dealing with the public in a "retail" operation.

Some percentage of folks will try to get stuff for free, get used to it.

You get lots of labor for free from your volunteers, and the benefit of prior volunteers that generously funded your operation (including building the restoration shop) share the fruits of their labors. Or share some of your "profits" with the folks that came before you....


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 Post subject: Re: Professional Courtesy
PostPosted: Fri Sep 27, 2019 12:13 am 

Joined: Fri Dec 22, 2017 6:47 pm
Posts: 225
Location: Philadelphia, PA
Back in the olden days, some of the trolley museums did have reciprocal honoring of memberships but that was back then. Now I pay (or join). The museum can use the money, especially when you compare what the museum charges with what you're paying to get there.

Phil Mulligan


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 Post subject: Re: Professional Courtesy
PostPosted: Fri Sep 27, 2019 3:25 am 

Joined: Wed Mar 31, 2010 12:02 am
Posts: 276
$15 for admission AND unlimited train rides!? Where do I pay!? I've seen places that charge that much for just one ride.

Trains run on tracks. Railroads run on money. Buy the ticket, support the group you came to visit. If you get to talking shop with a volunteer and get the "behind the scenes" tour, consider stuffing a bit extra in the donation bucket, or do a little extra shopping at their gift shop. Make their generosity worth their while.

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--Drew Black
"The guy with the green hat"


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 Post subject: Re: Professional Courtesy
PostPosted: Fri Sep 27, 2019 7:22 am 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 7:19 am
Posts: 5697
Location: southeastern USA
When I've been fortunate enough to be welcomed free I generally find some things worth buying at the gift shop or if there's a donation jar / whatever contribute to it. I've met a lot of interesting people in the business and shared a lot of information going both ways - I think it's well worth cross pollinating knowledge to everybody's benefit. The small amount of money most museums charge for admission isn't worth trying to save for hopefully all of us, but I wouldn't want it to get in the way of more valuable networking under any circumstances. Of course, like everything that depends on circumstances, your mileage may vary.

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Santayana: "He who does not remember the past is condemned to repeat it."
Corollary: "He who does is doomed to watch those who don't repeat it anyway."


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 Post subject: Re: Professional Courtesy
PostPosted: Fri Sep 27, 2019 8:41 am 

Joined: Sat Feb 06, 2010 9:29 am
Posts: 251
When I travel to various museums, etc..if I know someone there, I let them know when I plan to visit... I don't look to get in free, but if they let me in I always make either a donation or buy something from the gift shop....an amount equal to admission at minimum... This is something of an unwritten rule...or perhaps a quid pro quo?


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 Post subject: Re: Professional Courtesy
PostPosted: Fri Sep 27, 2019 9:00 am 

Joined: Wed May 12, 2010 1:24 pm
Posts: 72
Great thread Otto.

The majority of railfans out there are respectful and understand the purpose of railroad museums is utilitarian in nature, meaning it has a greater purpose than just pleasing someone who likes trains.

Having said that, there seems to be a misunderstanding particularly related to a volunteer's time and the fact that just because the majority of us have open-air museums, doesn't mean they are accessible 24/7. Put another way and to your specific narrative, it would be me like going to the Boston MFA during a high donor event and insisting on seeing John Singleton Copley's portrait of Paul Revere for free. I doubt they would offer me a "designated driver" discount either...

At the Berkshire Scenic Railway Museum, we receive the occasional request to see a specific piece of equipment for varying purposes. Sometimes these are during the off season when volunteers are participating in other activities or pieces that have controlled access. A high degree of discretion is used in these requests, particularly in what member(s) of the museum (volunteer) staff needs to be involved. A member of the board of directors who has a professional skill set has a market rate oftentimes of $100+ an hour. The question I always ask in these situations is, "What could they be doing instead? Is this visitor someone who could benefit the museum (new volunteer, benefactor, media outlet) or just a personal pleasure picture taker?" It is certainly a judgement call but you can usually tell. The point is, volunteer doesn't mean "volunteer." Their labor is an hourly donation to the organization. How do you maximize your return?


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 Post subject: Re: Professional Courtesy
PostPosted: Fri Sep 27, 2019 9:15 am 

Joined: Mon Aug 23, 2004 11:07 am
Posts: 580
EJ Berry wrote:
Back in the olden days, some of the trolley museums did have reciprocal honoring of memberships but that was back then. Now I pay (or join). The museum can use the money, especially when you compare what the museum charges with what you're paying to get there.

Phil Mulligan


This type of thing still happens -- sort of --

NRHS has a discount program where its members received discounts at various rail atttractions -- for this year's list and further details see page 9 of


https://admin.nrhs.com/NRHSNews/NRHS_Ne ... ay2019.pdf

Bob H


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