Changes to membership offer in 2024
As mentioned in the newsletter last month, when we sought your views through an online survey, we have been considering making some changes to our membership offer.
We explained that potential funders need to be reassured that we are doing everything possible ourselves to keep the centre afloat and, as part of business planning for the next 12 months, we must look at all ways of generating income.
One of the questions the survey asked sought to establish people’s motivations for joining the membership programme.
- 82% of people said their main reason for being a member was to support the heritage centre
- 11% of people said their main reason for being a member was to visit exhibitions
- 7% of people said heir main reason for being a member was to visit talks
Although talks were a lower motivational factor for people becoming members, booking talks was something many people commented on. On the one hand, people tell they are disappointed when they try to book a place and find the talk is already sold out (which can be soon after it goes online). This was the main concern raised in the survey feedback with 50% of people saying they had tried to book a talk only to discover it was fully booked. On the other hand, we have a high percentage of last-minute cancellations or ‘no shows’. On one occasion recently 28 of the 50 pre-booked tickets were no shows or cancelled less than 24 hours before the talk.
We accept that there are genuine reasons why people might not be able to attend, and we are grateful to those who let us know in advance. Despite some walk-ins on the day and our efforts to ring people who have joined a waiting list, we have had some empty chairs at talks. In the example above where 28 pre-booked tickets were cancelled or didn’t show up, we know 110 people tried to get tickets. 50 booked tickets. 60 couldn’t book tickets because it was fully booked. 28 people didn’t turn up or cancelled within 24 hours of the event, but only 11 people had their names on a waiting list meaning we had 17 free seats on the day.
Not only is this frustrating for people who really wanted to attend these talks but couldn’t get a seat, it also has a financial impact on the Old Low Light. Often people who come to our talks use the café before or after, so it means the café is potentially quieter than it might have been, and we also make less on admission charges.
No shows are not an issue we have with our other events where people pay in advance such as guided walks, workshops or concerts. We therefore asked members how they would feel about paying for talks in the future and 60 per cent of those responding were either comfortable with this or didn’t mind either way.
So, to try to address this situation – and to show potential funders that we are doing what we can to optimise income – as from 1 January 2024:
- Saturday talks will cost £4 for non-members, and £2 for members.
- Tuesday talks remain free for members, but cost non-members £4.
- Payment will be taken at the point of booking online.
- Members will be required to show their membership card on the day of the talk, or be required to pay an uplift to the non-member price on the day.