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 Post subject: Re: Overlooking the little things at your operation/museum?
PostPosted: Mon Dec 18, 2017 7:10 pm 

Joined: Mon May 24, 2010 10:22 am
Posts: 491
Maybe a little off topic:

Update your web pages, I recently visited one Museum's web-page and the newest item under "What's New" was dated 2014.

You really need to maintain you web page, check them monthly, update them, remove obsolete information, make sure links work, PROFFRead it.

-Hudson


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 Post subject: Re: Overlooking the little things at your operation/museum?
PostPosted: Mon Dec 18, 2017 8:04 pm 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 1:51 pm
Posts: 8883
Location: Somewhere north of Prescott, AZ on the Santa Fe "Peavine"
HudsonL wrote:
You really need to maintain you web page, check them monthly, update them, remove obsolete information, make sure links work, PROFFRead it.


The Irony Meter here is red-lining.............. >;-)


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 Post subject: Re: Overlooking the little things at your operation/museum?
PostPosted: Mon Dec 18, 2017 8:49 pm 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 11:26 am
Posts: 3958
Location: Maine
I'm gonna add another two cents, so four cents from me. Clean bathrooms hit the nail on the head. Having a wet mop with hot water and disinfectant, then swamping out the floors maybe once every two hours, will earn you the gratitude of anyone coming to visit. It's easy, and shouldn't be assigned to the "low man on duty in the gift shop".
The other thing is to have interactive, "please touch" exhibits for kids. Interactive doesn't mean a shelf with a spike, an old lantern, and a switch lock. I'm taking about things that turn, like a valve gear model, a Diesel cab set up, a child friendly steam firebox with a shovel and faux coal lumps. Levers, gears, push buttons, lights, swing arms, anything that allows little squirmers to use that energy in a positive and safe manner, will pay dividends.

Looking at RMPA, the NS Diesel cab is popular as heck. The docent in the H6sb cab usually is explaining something whenever I pass by. The scale model railroads enchant some, but not all visitors, and when they derail or crap out, it dampens the exhibit immediately.

"Edu-tainment" is not a dirty word.

Disassembled locomotives can have a docent assigned on visitor days to explain why the locomotive is down and what parts are, how it will be assessed for renewal or cosmetic display, what the parts are and what they did/do.

Museums and tourist lines cannot have one vision controlling how to make your place exciting.

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"It's only impossible until it's done." -Nelson Mandela


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 Post subject: Re: Overlooking the little things at your operation/museum?
PostPosted: Mon Dec 18, 2017 11:17 pm 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 1:51 pm
Posts: 8883
Location: Somewhere north of Prescott, AZ on the Santa Fe "Peavine"
Our nation is also ageing.
Does your location and/or equipment easily accommodate someone in a wheelchair or "mobility scooter"?
In a walker?
On crutches?
Someone who just happens to be short?

How's your water supply? Is it a nice shiny water cooler, or did it need to be replaced four years ago? Does your water supply taste unusually "rustic" or "bituminous" or tannic? Sure, you locals might be used to it, but will you convince those "city slickers" it's "mineral water," or should you add a filter, or have bottled water/a water cooler with spring water instead?

If someone wants to host a party or wedding reception, do you have caterers available who know your place? Can a caterer find everything they may want--starting with running water? Maybe you can hide a kitchen sink in a closet, along with counter space and a cabinet or three to store leftover cups and plastic cutlery for your volunteers or the volunteers' picnic in August?


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 Post subject: Re: Overlooking the little things at your operation/museum?
PostPosted: Tue Dec 19, 2017 12:45 am 

Joined: Sat Jan 21, 2012 10:03 pm
Posts: 140
Location: Pennsylvania
The attitude of volunteers/employees can literally make or break an experience for a visitor. Someone who is cranky, confrontational, rude, standoffish, or just plain rubs people the wrong way, can make an otherwise wonderful experience into an awful one. On the flip side, someone who is friendly and polite can make a visitor's experience even better.

This extends to anyone who the general public has any chance of coming into contact with, from trainmen, engineers, and conductors to docents, gift shop personnel, etc.

As a personal policy, I even extend this philosophy when it comes to visitors doing things that are dangerous and against the rules. For example, whenever I tell someone to get off the tracks or get down from a piece of equipment, I may yell at them in a forceful, unfriendly manner, but I always follow it with "sorry that I yelled at you," and explain that it's because "we don't want you to get hurt," which in my experience is usually enough to make them stop. Only if they persist do I get "mean" about it, and you could use the line "this is your second warning," or something to that effect.


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 Post subject: Re: Overlooking the little things at your operation/museum?
PostPosted: Tue Dec 19, 2017 10:55 am 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 9:54 am
Posts: 834
Location: NJ
I've been reading this thread with great interest, and some very valid points have been presented. I was especially drawn to the comments made by 'Trolleyguy' and 'Ns2110' about having third party walkthroughs.

I recently retired from a middle management position with a small manufacturing business. and have been investigating ways to supplement my Social Security and Army Reserve retirement. One of my ideas was to offer my services as a consultant in the shortline, tourist rail and museum field.

While I have been involved for over fifteen years with a privately funded diesel restoration project, I'm not at present terribly active with any organization. However, I have been an incognito visitor to many tourist lines and museums (rail and other) for a good number of years. I feel that this 'independence' is not a disadvantage, but allows me the liberty to think outside of the box. "We've always done it this way" and "Not invented here" are not part of my lexicon.

A second pair of eyes is always useful, especially when those eyes are not connected to a particular project. A bad bit in a PLC program; a missing (or extra) connection in an electrical circuit; an extra pipe in a pneumatic system (think air brake-); these kind of things are usually caught by a fresh viewer. And I'm honest enough to admit to having been on both sides of these equations.

If any of this proposal, offering consulting and oversight, appeals to you, or can be useful to your organization, please send me a private message. I'd love to talk.


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 Post subject: Re: Overlooking the little things at your operation/museum?
PostPosted: Tue Dec 19, 2017 1:05 pm 

Joined: Tue Aug 02, 2005 1:25 pm
Posts: 5360
Within the last week, I checked three different websites for information; one very nice depot museum and two well known railroad museums. I was trying to verify that some freight equipment was still located at said organizations. In each case, NO info at all on their freight cars. This is one thing I can't understand. At least a simple listing should be there!

Les


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 Post subject: Re: Overlooking the little things at your operation/museum?
PostPosted: Tue Dec 19, 2017 1:20 pm 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 1:51 pm
Posts: 8883
Location: Somewhere north of Prescott, AZ on the Santa Fe "Peavine"
As someone who has spent thirty years or so trying to get rail museums and excursion lines to admit what they have for some "master database" which still remains elusive, let me play "devil's advocate" for a moment:

When a piece of rolling stock is listed on a publicly-accessible website, it is basically seen not just as open recognition of the car's preservation, but also as a "list of exhibits." For every one of us rail geeks that see such a listing and understand that it could be anywhere from front and center to awaiting scrap for parts, there are ten or more that will see such a listing as confirmation that said car is available, open, in public view, and/or available to ride.

Look at the Strasburg Rail Road. Should they openly acknowledge the existence of Camelback 4 at the moment? What about CP 972? Long Island 39? Sugar Pine Lumber 37? BEDT 15/"Thomas"? What about PRR 1223 and 7002 when they operated but didn't own them?

You can disclaimer "Not all items listed available for public inspection" all you want, but that isn't going to help someone who came eight hundred miles hoping to visit that one loco that's back in the shop right now, let alone the folks that showed up to see "Thomas" on the wrong weekend. And, trust me, not everyone reads disclaimers.

And what happens when the guy that ran your website dies or gets shipped off to the Middle East, and then you sell that caboose and a new GP9 shows up?

I would certainly love it if everyone not only put their rosters online but submitted their data to the ATTRM, but I've sadly made peace with why it's unlikely to happen.


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 Post subject: Re: Overlooking the little things at your operation/museum?
PostPosted: Tue Dec 19, 2017 2:43 pm 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 7:19 am
Posts: 5506
Location: southeastern USA
The general public doesn't care much about which specific pieces are there (specific celebrity pieces are somewhat different), just that it will provide them with a good experience. Don't build your marketing to railfans. Railfans will show up anyhow. People doing specific research who want to see specific artifacts are not unaccustomed to making contact first to assure availability, which generally results in some personal attention and access to information not otherwise open to the public as well. Web sites are for attracting the general public and providing good information such as location, open hours, and products offered to help them want to come to visit and carry out their plans.

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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: Overlooking the little things at your operation/museum?
PostPosted: Tue Dec 19, 2017 6:45 pm 

Joined: Fri Jan 10, 2014 5:00 pm
Posts: 52
I'll add for visitors who came some distance: a list or knowledge of local gas stations, fast food, good food, convenience stores, alternate entertainment like mini-golf, malls, etc.


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 Post subject: Re: Overlooking the little things at your operation/museum?
PostPosted: Tue Dec 19, 2017 9:50 pm 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 1:51 pm
Posts: 8883
Location: Somewhere north of Prescott, AZ on the Santa Fe "Peavine"
Kimball wrote:
I'll add for visitors who came some distance: a list or knowledge of local gas stations, fast food, good food, convenience stores, alternate entertainment like mini-golf, malls, etc.

Young people these days--meaning anyone under about 50 or so who doesn't live on an Native American reservation, in Green Bank, WV, or on an Amish farm--has Yelp, Google, and lawd knows what else on their smartphones.

Now, if you offer a package deal with a hotel or B&B, or a local eatery offers a discount for people showing their ticket stub, that's an entirely different proposition--and one you may want to pursue!

If you're a member of the local tourist/visitors bureau or Chamber of Commerce or whatever, you probably should offer a link to their website as the default "clearing house" for local information.

Me? I want the nearest brewpub. >;-D


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 Post subject: Re: Overlooking the little things at your operation/museum?
PostPosted: Tue Dec 19, 2017 9:59 pm 

Joined: Tue Aug 02, 2005 1:25 pm
Posts: 5360
On the back of each train ticket sold at Hoosier Valley, it states to bring their ticket in to the local bakery for a free doughnut. Fingerhut bakery has GOOD bakery goods and my guess is that when riders walk in and see all the stuff on display, they might buy some other goodies.

Les


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 Post subject: Re: Overlooking the little things at your operation/museum?
PostPosted: Tue Dec 19, 2017 10:19 pm 

Joined: Fri Dec 15, 2017 11:42 pm
Posts: 8
Location: Tillamook, Oregon
Alexander D. Mitchell IV wrote:
Kimball wrote:
I'll add for visitors who came some distance: a list or knowledge of local gas stations, fast food, good food, convenience stores, alternate entertainment like mini-golf, malls, etc.

Young people these days--meaning anyone under about 50 or so who doesn't live on an Native American reservation, in Green Bank, WV, or on an Amish farm--has Yelp, Google, and lawd knows what else on their smartphones.

Now, if you offer a package deal with a hotel or B&B, or a local eatery offers a discount for people showing their ticket stub, that's an entirely different proposition--and one you may want to pursue!

If you're a member of the local tourist/visitors bureau or Chamber of Commerce or whatever, you probably should offer a link to their website as the default "clearing house" for local information.

Me? I want the nearest brewpub. >;-D


And yet there are so many who still ask for personal, local recommendations. So you had better have a few favorites that they would likely find enjoyable - especially if it's a bit of a local treasure that an 'outsider' may not know about.


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 Post subject: Re: Overlooking the little things at your operation/museum?
PostPosted: Wed Dec 20, 2017 2:07 pm 

Joined: Mon Dec 18, 2017 11:41 am
Posts: 32
Location: NW Ohio
Two of the tourist RR/museums I've been involved with were so focused on other things, like what color to paint a piece of equipment, that they completely were overlooking overall appearance of the property. I try to stress that the first thing the general public sees is the condition of the property at the museum grounds and at every crossing along the line. I prefer to focus on controlling vegetation where the greatest traffic tends to cross. One group had their busiest crossing so overgrown that the only way you knew it was a railroad track was the crossing protection and the rails in the pavement.


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 Post subject: Re: Overlooking the little things at your operation/museum?
PostPosted: Wed Dec 20, 2017 4:28 pm 

Joined: Wed Jan 19, 2005 1:52 pm
Posts: 57
Location: Newton, NJ
Restrooms, first and foremost. When the family arrives, the first thing they are gonna want to do is hit the restrooms. If all you have are portapots and mom insists on the real thing, once that family drives off in search of real restrooms they likely aren't coming back. In addition to cleanliness, capacity is also a consideration. A couple of local tourist railroads have one-stall restrooms and when the tour bus hits, the lines back up.

Next is the junk pile. I have seen some museums who actually turn the disassembled stuff into a nicely interpreted display. Still, I'd really like to see museums take advantage of cheap pole barns and/or high solid fences to keep the junkiest junk out of sight. If it needs to be tarped, it needs to be behind a fence.

Finally, customer relations. Every customer should be treated as a welcomed guest. I have seen way too many volunteers who have been asked the same question 100 times over the course of a day get short with some genuinely curious (if somewhat clueless) patron. Yeah, it's the 100th time you've been asked that question, but it's their first time asking it.

My two cents...

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