Why taking part in the 2023 Visitor Attraction Website Survey is so important, from The Mary Rose Museum and Roman Baths

In this Skip the Queue podcast episode, I speak with Dominic Jones, CEO of The Mary Rose Museum, and Director of Portsmouth Historic Dockyard, Simon Addison, Heritage Business Manager at the Roman Baths and Andy Povey, MD UK & Ireland of Convious.

“It was a game changer. That’s what you’ve done. You’ve created something that is a true game changer.

Dominic Jones, CEO of The Mary Rose, and Director of Portsmouth Historic Dockyard

Dominic Jones was recruited to the Mary Rose in 2019 ago as Chief Operating Officer, and became CEO in 2021.  He brings an excellent background in commercial visitor attractions (Disney, Merlin) and creative visitor experience development.

During his time at the Mary Rose, he has already driven an excellent commercial and operational performance and worked closely with previous Chief Executive to create the new Portsmouth Historic Dockyard joint venture with the National Museum of the Royal Navy, which launched successfully in August 2020.

“So what the report enabled us to do was to look at the findings in the report, the stats in the report, and ensure that were building our new website in a way that optimised that sort of user experience and customer journey. But I think also in visitor attractions, our websites are often trying to do two quite different things. So, on the one hand, it’s sort of the gateway to a visit. It’s the first place that people go when they’re planning their visit and they want to maybe buy a ticket and come to Bath.”

Simon Addison, Heritage Business Manager at The Roman Baths

Simon joined the Board of the Association of Leading Visitor Attractions in May 2022.

Simon Addison is the Business Manager, Roman Baths and Pump RoomBath, and heads the finance and business planning functions at the Roman Baths. He is responsible for business analysis, pricing strategy and leads the benchmarking work.

Simon started his career in the financial services industry, where he qualified as a chartered management accountant with the Bank of New York. He moved to the National Trust in 2012, where he held roles in the finance team. Latterly he was responsible for the Trust’s finances in Somerset, Dorset and Wiltshire. Simon joined the senior leadership team at the Roman Baths in 2017.

“It upsets me to see attractions getting it wrong and some get it really wrong. So having some benchmarks, having some industry standards where people can go, “Actually, we’re not doing what we should be doing. And why aren’t we able to measure that? And what does it mean to our business by not measuring that?” It’s really important.”

Andy Povey, MD UK & Ireland of Convious

Andy Povey joined Convious in November 2021 as managing director for UK and Ireland.

Andy has worked in the attractions industry since the early nineties when he began as a ride operator at Chessington World of Adventures. He stayed with the Tussaud’s company and later Merlin Entertainments for another 18 years, working in a variety of operational jobs at Rock Circus, Madame Tussauds, and central support, where he was responsible for the group’s ticketing systems. After Merlin, he worked for Gateway Ticketing Systems for ten years, opening and then overseeing their UK operation, before transferring his experience to the Convious team. Outside work, Andy enjoys visiting attractions of all shapes and sizes with his family.


What will you learn from this podcast?

  • The merits of taking part in the 2023 Visitor Attraction Website Survey
  • How the report has shaped their digital strategies
  • What the report delivered to their attractions in terms of increased revenue and improved customer experience

Why taking part in the 2023 Visitor Attraction Website Survey is so important - andy- dom- simon

To listen to the full podcast, search Skip The Queue on iTunes, Google Podcasts and Spotify to subscribe. You can find links to every episode and more at www.rubbercheese.com/podcast.

You can also read the full transcript below.


The interview

Your host, Kelly Molson

Our guests, Dominic Jones, Simon Addison & Andy Povey



Kelly Molson: So I’ve got Dominic Jones, Simon Addison and Andy Povey here. All past guests, all good friends. We don’t need to do icebreakers here because we all know each other pretty well now. But we are going to do a little mini round of unpopular opinions again, because, let’s face it, that’s why people listen to this podcast. Dominic, I’m going to start with you. 

Dominic Jones: Why would you start with me? That’s so unfair. It’s obvious that Simon is your favourite. We can know this is how it works with Bath. He gets all of the good stuff and you come to Dominic first. I used my best unpopular opinion last time when I talked about not mentioning the weather. And I always think my unpopular opinion should be work related.

So this one is an interesting one and I wonder whether you will disagree with me, let alone Simon and Andy. But I think when doing discounting, online or in person in our industry. You shouldn’t use percentages, and you should use physical pounds, because I think people who use percentages can really confuse people. And also, I just think it’s bad form. 

Kelly Molson: I should throw this one over to Andy, really, because he’s pricing expert man, isn’t he?

Andy Povey: I go that far, Kelly. I actually agree with Dominic, but from a geeky technical perspective.

Dominic Jones: Love Andy, always loved Andy. You know what, he’s one of those guests that you just love. 

Simon Addison: Dom, is this just an unpopular opinion because you just can’t do percentages, you just want to know how many pounds to take off. Is that what it is? 

Kelly Molson: Percentages are hard. We’re not all like numbers people like you, Simon. 

Dominic Jones: We’re not all born with a calculator. The other thing is that actually, the great British public, our international public, they don’t want to be working out. They wat to enjoy the day outside. They want to enjoy the Roman Baths, they don’t want to be sitting there working out, “What these percentages off mean?”

Simon Addison: Dom, you did not listen to my podcast on pricing strategy.  We don’t discount. 

Andy Povey: But that was going to be my point. 

Simon Addison: Yeah, we should be confident enough to the quality of our own products, Dom. That will be my unpopular opinion. We shouldn’t discount as an industry, but that’s not what I’ve prepared. 

Andy Povey: Discounting just seems like a really easy, quick thing for marketeer to do when they’re desperate. And I think we should be a little bit more confident about what we’re doing and actually use better tools and better ways of communicating the value of what it is that the attraction is doing. So slightly more unpopular, I suppose, Dom, would be let’s not do discounts at all. Doesn’t matter weather it’s 4 pounds or percentages or whatever, then just don’t do it.

Kelly Molson: So, I’m just gonna come at this from a car boot perspective, which I have to skip randomly. But I love a little bargain. I went to a car boot sale. I’m renovating a cottage in North Norfolk at the moment and I’m trying to furnish it with as much second hand things as possible. So car boot sales are my friend right now, and if I had gone up to the stall and been like, “What’s your best price on this?”. And they said, “You can have 10% off”, I’d have been like, “But what does that mean? It’s 05:00 in the morning and my brain can’t work this out”. But two pounds is yes. 

Dominic Jones: And it works. And also, there’s an element of, you do need to put discounting in, because you’ve got to look at reaching different audiences. You’ve got people like Kelly who want to bargain. So you need to put out a decoy pricing in. So they think, “Oh, I’m not paying that for tickets, but I got 2 pounds off, aren’t I lucky? I like that.” The problem with percentages is it’s people trying to be too clever and it’s marketeers trying to be a little bit too clever. And I’ve never liked it. It’s not as bad as the weather. I hate the weather being used as an excuse, but my second one is using percentages in discounting.

Kelly Molson: Okay. I’m glad that you changed that quickly to discounting and not marketing because there’s a lot of percentages in my report, which we’ll discuss later. Right, Simon, moving on to you. 

Simon Addison: Yeah, okay. It’s nothing to do with work. Camping is not a holiday. There’s no way that camping is a holiday. But I love the outdoors. We’re going on holiday to Pembrokeshire in a couple of months, we’ll be outside most of every day. We will walk in the cross paths in whatever the weather. But at the end of the day, we got a little cottage that we are renting to come back to for a shower that haven’t got to queue for. We’re not sharing a toilet block like camping, washing up, cooking, they’re disproportionately hard work, and that’s assuming it’s sunny. If it rains, it’s just miserable. 

We can go out and get wet and we don’t have to worry about whether we’re ever going to get dry for the rest of the week in a tent. The kids will wake up. I haven’t finished yet. Kelly. In a tent, they’ll wake up at five in the morning when it gets light, and that means just the suffering of the holidays extended over an even longer day. And worst of all, the red wine is too cold and the white wine is too warm. Just miserable. 

Dominic Jones: Do you not have a fridge when you do camping? 

Simon Addison:  Dom, I don’t camp. You might have got that from there. 

Dominic Jones: I go camping. I have a fridge. I have a blow up tent. I have all the cons. 

Kelly Molson: Do you take your bed like the glastonbury dude? 

Dominic Jones: Well, I try and turn up late to someone else that can turn it all up, but it’s very nice. 

Kelly Molson: Simon, I’m with you on this. I love the outdoors. I’m a big nature girl, but camping is a no no for me. It is miserable. Even glamping. I went glamping on a friend’s hen doo once and even that was just a step too far for me. Everything was grubby. It rained, everything was then damp. Everything was damp. Like, everything was damp. It was horrible. Cottage all the way. Hello. I’ve got one in North Norfolk coming up, available for rent in September. If you’re interested in a holiday in beautiful North Norfolk.

Dominic Jones: You should go to car boot sales. I believe they’ve got some great deals at the moment. 

Kelly Molson: Yeah. They do have some great bargains, Dominic.

Simon Addison:  Will you offer me a percentage discount on your cottage in North Norfolk? 

Kelly Molson: Right, I like that one. I don’t think that’s going to be that unpopular, if I’m honest. Andy, over to you, final one. 

Andy Povey: When you first broached the idea of coming back to the podcast, I was really excited and the fact that I was going to join probably my two favourite podcast guests was really exciting. So my unpopular opinion is hopefully it’s going to be borne out or proven by this episode of Skip The Queue, in that Dominic Jones isn’t going to be number one on the Skip the Queue chart by the end of next week. 

Dominic Jones: That’s so harsh. Now, what have I ever done to hurt you, Andy? 

Andy Povey: You’ve not hurt me, Dom, you’re not. It’s just a little friendly competition. 

Simon Addison: Is Dom number one? He’s never mentioned it. I’ve literally never heard him talk about. 

Andy Povey: I don’t know where you’d get that from. 

Dominic Jones: I’m a very shy guy. Am I number one? You’re joking me. Really? 

Kelly Molson: Yes, you do not know?

Dominic Jones: We should tell people about this. This needs to get out there before it changes. 

Kelly Molson: So I said, if Dominic is still number one at Christmas, I’m going to send him a gift. I’m going to send him something commemorative for this at Christmas. So he was number one last Christmas. You were the official Skip the Queue Christmas number one. 

Dominic Jones: Amazing, I did not know that. Wow.

Kelly Molson: Yeah, I know. It is amazing. I’m sure you’ve not mentioned that before. 

Andy Povey: You never talked about it. 

Kelly Molson: We’re just at the end of June where we’re recording this, so there’s still a fair few months to go. We do have our summer break coming up, the season five will start in September. So we’ve got from September to December for someone to topple you off that number one slot. 

Dominic Jones: I’m happy to be toppled. And joking aside, both Andy and Simon’s podcast were amazing and I love both of them. And actually all of your guests are really I do really love Skip the Queue. It’s one of those treats you get to looking to the new Skip the Queue podcast. So if I get toppled from number one, life is okay. 

Kelly Molson: You are very kind. Right. Thank you for sharing those unpopular opinions. What would be lovely listeners if you follow us over on Twitter, you can just search for Skip the Queue. I’d like to know who’s unpopular opinion you preferred the most out of those three, please. Maybe I’ll do a little poll on Twitter next week when this podcast episode launches. Right.

This is completely unscripted and this is really last minute for the guests and so I’m super grateful that you could come and join me today. Now, it is a bit of an unusual episode for me because I actually don’t tend to talk about the stuff that I do or Rubber Cheese does on this podcast. Maybe tiny little snippets of it here and there, but we never kind of dedicate an episode to the things that we do. 

We had a free slot and I thought, I wanted to come on and talk about the initiative that we started last year that is now running in its second year. So bear with me while I explain a little bit of a background about it. So back in May 2022, Rubber Cheese, my agency, launched the first national survey of visitor attraction websites.

So I’ve been asked to speak on a webinar by the lovely team at Kallaway PR, who have also Will Kallaway has been a guest on the podcast. They asked me to come on and talk about cart abandonment and ways that kind of design and UX can help prevent it. So I went away, put my slides together, tried to search for some data that would back up a few theories that I had. 

And that was when I kind of hit a bit of a brick wall. Yeah, brick wall, that’s what I’m trying to say. Couldn’t find any specific data for the sector. I could find data about cart abandonment rates for all kinds of ecommerce sites, all kinds of pharmaceutical companies. Anything and everything that you could think of was out there except visitor attractions. And I realised that I think the data gets a bit skewed for them because they were kind of getting put into hospitality or tourism in general, or hotels sometimes, I think outdoor and sports. So I wasn’t kind of able to back up theories that I had with the data. So that led us to setting up the survey. 

And were really, really lucky to have some amazing bunch of people like the teams at ALVA and ASVA who totally supported the initiative and shared it with their members. Last year, we had a brilliant response. We had 70 leading attractions from up and down the UK take part. And in November last year, were able to launch the very first Visitor Attraction Website Report, which saw us set the first digital benchmarks for the sector. So the sector now has benchmarks for add to basket rate, basket abandonment rate, bounce rate, conversion rate, load times and then the report, because of the kind of questions that we asked, we got loads of key insight into user experience, booking journeys, mobile experience and loads, loads more. 

Kelly Molson: But more importantly, that report, since its launch, has enabled attractions to make improvements to their websites, which makes their service better for their clients and makes their digital presence better. So it’s been such an exciting thing to be involved in and it is a real passion project for me. I’ve loved every minute of setting it up.

This year, we are now in our second year of running it and we’ve got a brilliant partner in Andy and the team at Convious, which I’m thrilled about. Say thank you. So I’ve asked you all to come on today to talk a little bit about the survey and the report and what it has enabled you to do. I want to start a little bit with Dominic and Simon, really, and ask them the questions, because they are in the position of being senior leaders in a visitor attraction. 

They’ve both publicly spoken to me and said that the report has enabled them to do some really exciting things. And I think it’s probably important for me to state that you’re not our clients, like Rubber Cheese is not.

We don’t work with either of you from a client perspective. I’d definitely count you as friends and obviously Skip the Queue podcast alumni now as well. So, Simon, let me come to you first. What has the report enabled you to do at Roman Baths and why has it been important for you to kind of take part? What’s it delivered for you? 

Simon Addison: Sure, I think the report came out at a really important time for us because were already in the midst of a website redesign project. So what the report enabled us to do was to look at the findings in the report, the stats in the report, and ensure that were building our new website in a way that optimised that sort of user experience and customer journey. But I think also in visitor attractions, our websites are often trying to do two quite different things. So, on the one hand, it’s sort of the gateway to a visit. It’s the first place that people go when they’re planning their visit and they want to maybe buy a ticket and come to Bath. 

At the same time, it’s also telling sort of our more engaged audience, information about the collection and information about the history of the site or research that we’re undertaking. And we want to be able to really quickly segregate those two audiences, because one audience we want to keep there for as long as possible to delve into the stories that we want to tell them and to really sort of effectively convert them from a very transactional relationship, which is buying a ticket to one of more of a supporter where they might donate in future.

They’ll become engaged in our program. And so designing a website that on the first page helps to divert visitors from that sort of more engaged, we’re here to learn from, “We want to buy a ticket for Saturday”, and sort of get them on their journey quickly, efficiently and as few clicks as possible. 

So I think having that endorsement of the importance of the user, the journey, how many clicks is optimal before people start abandoning and giving up, that was so helpful in the way that were designing the website. 

Kelly Molson: Amazing. That is such a good testimony for what we’ve done. And obviously we can’t do any of that unless people take part in the survey and submit their data. And so we can understand and learn how websites are performing in the first place. But for me, it’s really exciting to hear that because I guess having those kind of baseline benchmarks is a starting point for the industry. And that’s, for me, what was missing completely in that we can talk about how we want them to improve and how we want the sector to move on. And I think, Andy, we’ve had a conversation before where we kind of feel like the sector is a little bit behind, where other industries are probably about four or five years, potentially behind in some areas. 

Andy Povey: I’d go even further than that, Kelly.

Kelly Molson: Oh, wow. Okay. Yeah. 

Andy Povey: Generally people don’t pick up the phone to me and ask me to come and talk about their ecommerce platforms if they’re perfectly happy with what they’re doing. So maybe I’m seeing a different side of the market. But it astounds me how many attractions there are that aren’t able to monitor their performance, to look at their conversion rates, to look at their basket abandonment rates, all that kind of stuff. It’s astounding, which is why I’m really happy to be working with you on the survey this year. 

Kelly Molson: Okay, well, let me go to Andy now. So, Andy, introduce yourself for your role at Convious.

Andy Povey: So I’m responsible for everything we do with Convious in the UK and Ireland. So job title is MD, UK and Ireland. 

Kelly Molson: So Andy and I got introduced quite a while ago, actually, now. I feel like it was a Ticketing Professionals Conference. Was it there? 

Andy Povey: I think it was Dominic Jones that introduced us at the Museums and Heritage. 

Kelly Molson: Yes, it was Museums and Heritage. It was.

Andy Povey: And it did indeed. 

Dominic Jones: I can’t believe you forgot that. 

Kelly Molson: Yes, it was with the Sarcophagus.

Dominic Jones: I brought two great people together. I mean, I feel like I don’t get the credit for this introduction. Thank you. 

Kelly Molson: I’m sorry. 

Dominic Jones: You do? 

Kelly Molson: Yeah, it was you. You’re actually really good at introducing people.

Dominic Jones: Talented people. Talented people to each other. 

Kelly Molson: Yeah. You grabbed me at this year’s Eminet show and introduced me to multiple people, actually. It was very kind of you. What a kind man you are. 

Dominic Jones: It’s a pleasure. 

Andy Povey: Isn’t he? 

Kelly Molson: So this year, well, I mean, I guess this is thanks to you, Dominic. So Dominic introduced Andy and I.

Dominic Jones: You are welcome, by the way. Welcome. 

Kelly Molson: Why is it important for Convious to be part of what we’re doing this year with the report?

Andy Povey: Well, it’s actually more important to me on a personal level, I think, Kelly. I’m a massive fan of attractions have been for my whole working life, which is there have been quite a lot of years in that so far, and I just want to see attractions doing better than they do at the moment. We’ve shared lots of conversations about really awful booking experiences, not just for attractions. Booking tickets to my kids, after school clubs. Personal bear of mine is dreadful. Don’t ever do it if you don’t have to. 

So I find that really frustrating. It upsets me to see attractions getting it wrong and some get it really wrong. So having some benchmarks, having some industry standards where people can go, actually, we’re not doing what we should be doing. And why aren’t we able to measure that? And what does it mean to our business by not measuring that? It’s really important. 

Kelly Molson: It is really important. It’s been phenomenal to have the support of Convious and specifically Andy and Mirabelle, who I’ve worked very closely with over the past few months on this project. What it’s also allowing us to do, and hopefully this will grow year on year, is that it’s opening up to a European audience as well. So, Andy, Convious is a Dutch company originally. 

Andy Povey: Yes. So we’re headquartered in Amsterdam. Germany is actually our largest market in terms of volume of customers, but we also have significant presence in France and Belgium, Netherlands and Bedelux area. 

Kelly Molson: So we have had a number of submissions this year from European countries. And that’s all down to Convious. 

Andy Povey: Thank you. 

Kelly Molson: We would hope over the next few years that this can start to grow and grow and become something that isn’t solely focused on the UK market, which would be really exciting. We did actually have a Canadian zoo take part yesterday, which was quite exciting. So the message is slowly starting to spread out worldwide as well. An international survey. That’s exciting, isn’t it? 

Andy Povey: Absolutely, yeah. 

Dominic Jones: It was a game changer. That’s what you’ve done. You’ve created something that is a true game changer. I remember getting very excited about the results and sitting at the back of the London Transport Theatre or wherever you launched them, and then just getting depressed every single slide. I was like, “Oh, no, we don’t do that, or, we don’t do that well, or, that’s not great”.

But it was fantastic because actually, for the first time ever, were able to compare ourselves and think, “Right, so if this is the industry standard, how can we make that better? How can we adapt that at the Mary Rose in Portsmouth Historic Dockyard?” and things like the five steps to make a booking and all this other sort of stuff that you were putting out. And I remember writing my book and thinking, “This is awful. This is absolutely awfu”l because we are performing way worse than that. We’re still not fixed it.

We’ve got some money to look at websites and we put some new websites in and we’re still developing it. But even little things like we changed and had a microsite last summer, we had one of our best summers ever, but we did that because of your data. We were looking and thinking, “We’ve got too many steps to making a booking or It takes too long to load this page, or actually we need to.” So I think you’ve really been a massive game changer, and if now you’re getting the Canadians involved, I mean, it’s going to be fantastic. I can’t wait to see what they’ve got to say. 

So I do genuinely think you’ve made a big difference and I can’t wait to see this year’s results and next year’s results. And I hope this is something you keep doing forever because you’ve made a real difference. You really have. 

Kelly Molson: Dominic, you’re so kind. That’s really kind. Thank you. That’s amazing feedback. What I love about what you said is that you’ve actively been able to take the data that people have supplied and go, “We are here. We’re not performing to that point yet. But if we make these changes, we can get to that point.” And that’s what I love. This is what this is all about. It’s about marginal gains. It’s about making those tiny little 1% improvements every day and getting better and better. We couldn’t ask for more. That’s what we hoped. 

Dominic Jones: And before I get kicked and hit by all my colleagues, there were lots of things that were doing great as well. But actually, you don’t talk about them, do you? Don’t say, “Oh, well, we’re doing okay because we’re very British, we only really talk about the things that we want to improve or we’re not doing right.” But I do think it’s a phenomenal game changer and it’s the sort of report that you can use as a toolkit to really sort of check where you are and where you want to be. And I genuinely can’t wait for the next one. I hope we get a preview for doing this podcast. Did we get an early release? Is that part of the deal? Simon, did you sign something like that? 

Simon Addison: Yeah, signed it all. Dom, did you not get the paperwork? 

Dominic Jones: Of course you did. He’s got people. 

Kelly Molson: If you’ve taken part in the survey, you will get it exclusively before it is released to the general public. So, I mean, I can confirm that you both have, which is a relief. 

Dominic Jones: Of course we have. We’re early adopters, we love it. 

Simon Addison: I did check before we came on this afternoon that we completed it because I thought that would be really awkward. 

Dominic Jones: You probably won the Convious prize, right, for being one of the people that completed it all. The 100th person to complete. I saw all that online, honestly.

Andy Povey: I think everyone got one by you, Dom. I don’t know what it was you’ve done to upset Mirabelle in our marketing team. 

Dominic Jones: I think you’re taking this podcast thing a little bit too seriously. 

Simon Addison: Just to go back to what you were saying, Kelly, about marginal gains, I think that is where the value of this is, because most of us have got websites that are capable of selling a ticket. But when you operate a visitor attraction as successful as Dom’s, or you get hundreds of thousands of people going to your website or to your attraction each year, millions of people to the website. 

And if you can achieve a 1% shift in a customer behaviour, the returns on that are really significant. So you don’t have to suddenly come up with a revolutionary new website. You have to focus on what are the things that are just holding you back a little bit, removing those pain points from the customer journey. The uplift is so significant of just achieving a small percentage change. I know Dom doesn’t like percentages, but that is what we’re talking about here. 

Dominic Jones: No, with that terms, I do, absolutely. And you’re absolutely right. And even little things like how it looks on a mobile as opposed to looking on a desktop.

Simon Addison: Exactly.

Dominic Jones: Change our way of thinking. And you’ve got to keep doing it because that’s what’s going to make this industry and where we all work and the amazing places that we work in even better. It’s brilliant. 

Kelly Molson: Well, we absolutely will continue to do it. So this is the second year that we’re running it and we have no intention of stopping. Just going back to what you said, Simon. I think what you said about making what you already have better in terms of your website, I think that’s a really important point to push is that it has been a really weird few years. And this year I think all of us were kind of hoping this would be a year of normality. And let’s face it really hasn’t, has it? It’s been another odd one. 

So we’ve started off the year, there’s an awful war happening, there’s a terrible cost of living crisis, there’s all kinds of stuff happening that is affecting attractions. Yet again, affecting all of us, really, but affecting attractions in terms of whether people are going to come, how much they’re going to spend, what they’re going to do.

We know that marketing budgets were going to be probably drastically cut this year by at least 15, 20%. That was the message that was being given when I attended the ALVA Heads of Marketing meeting before Christmas. So I think that being able to look at the report and use it to implement changes to what you already have is really important. You may not have the budget to go out and start again. 

You don’t necessarily need to, but if there’s improvements that you can be made to your site in terms of the performance or the speed, all of those things are going to help. They’re all things that will add up over time and ultimately make the performance of it better and make the customer experience better. So think that’s quite an important message to talk about. Another thing to add is that this year we’re doing it again.

We’re asking the same questions that we did last year because obviously we need the same data set, but it’s more so it’s bigger and better. We’ll get feedback on whether that’s too much for people, but we’re asking questions around Usability, whether you’re collecting feedback. We’re asking questions around kind of promotions and discounts and how people are measuring their traffic sources and whether they’re doing user tests. 

Kelly Molson: So there’s so much more that’s going to be in it from this year. And one really exciting thing which you touched on, Dominic, is that everybody that takes part in the survey will get exclusive access to the report before it’s made public. But actually, as soon as you’ve filled in the survey this year, you get a little mini report. And what it does is benchmark you where you are now against the benchmarks from last year.

So it will give you a little report to identify how your website is performing based on last year’s benchmarks that we identified. Now that’s really important. So you could be underperforming, you might be performing too, you might be overperforming, you might be doing better than those benchmarks from last year, and those benchmarks may change dramatically from last year to this year, we don’t know yet. 

So that’s like a little added bonus. If you’re on the fence about taking part, you will get something that’s actionable as soon as you’ve taken part in the survey this year. This year the report will launch towards the end of September. We will release dates and be a bit more specific once we’ve closed the survey. But this episode is going to launch on the 5th July.

That means that you’ve just got one week left to take part. So one week left before the survey closes on the 12th of July. So if you are thinking about it, stop thinking about it. Go and do it. It will literally take 20 minutes. You’re going to need your Google Analytics open or other analytics tool that you use. You can find the link to the survey in our show notes of this show. 

You can head over to Rubbercheese.com and you will find the link to it on the home page. Or you can search for the 2023 Visitor Attraction Website Report and you will find it. You can head over to Convious and you will find it on Convious website. It’s everywhere. Go find it. Do it. Take part. These guys did it. Made a big difference. 

Dominic Jones: Best 20 minutes of your life. Just do it. Just do it. Honestly, what else can you do? So much value in 20 minutes. There’s not much else you can do.

Kelly Molson: I worry about how you spend your time. If that’s the best 20 minutes of real life. Dominic, that’s a concern, but, I mean, he’s not wrong. 

Dominic Jones: I mean at work, not like in real life. I do amazing things in my normal life. 

Kelly Molson: If you could talk to all of the visitor attractions that are listening now, what would you say to them to encourage them to go and take part? 

Simon Addison: I would say that if you’re not already looking at the things you need to fill in, then you should be looking at them anyway. So you say it takes 20 minutes, Kelly, to fill them in? I’ll be honest. I didn’t fill them in for the Roman Baths, our Digital Marketing officer did. And I think Dom’s blank face when you’re talking about the mini report also tells me that he didn’t fill it in for Mary Rose either. But it’s 20 minutes. But it’s all data that you should be looking at. And if you’re not looking at it’s probably a prompt that you or your teams need to be looking at it anyway. 

And getting that report allows you to either make the case with your trustees or your board to invest if you need investment, or it provides an endorsement of the quality of the website and the offer that you’ve got. Either one of those things is really useful and we know how hard it is to get investment. Kelly, you talked about marketing budgets at the moment. If you want to get money to invest in your website, having this evidence will help convince your CEO or your Trustees that’s the right thing for you to do. And equally, if you don’t need to, then this is confirmation of that. So that’s what I’d say. 

Kelly Molson: Thank you. That is brilliant. How about you, Dom? 

Dominic Jones: I’d agree and I’ll come clean. I didn’t fill it in either, but someone did do it. But it’s not the filling in, it’s the reading it and using it that counts. Right? That’s what matters. It’s about receiving it and doing something with it. I actually think it’s really useful to get as much benchmark data as possible in this industry.

And actually what you do is you give us this for websites, you give it for ecommerce and it’s fantastic. I wish there were more people doing it in all the areas of our industry because actually this visitor attraction to get benchmarks is quite rare. So it’s fantastic to get that. So I really appreciate that. And I would say if you’re listening and you work in a visitor attraction, why wouldn’t you do this? 

Because like Simon says, you can understand where you are. You can use it for funding, you can use it towards getting revenue, you can use it towards recruiting some extra people in your team. You can use it to how you performance manage your team. You can use it for so many things. It’s such a good document. I can’t stress enough, I might not have filled out the form, but I definitely read it and I definitely used it and I do definitely love it.

Kelly Molson: Wow. So appreciative of your fabulous comments. Thank you both. Andy, what would you add to that? 

Andy Povey: Well, I don’t know that I can, but really it shouldn’t really take you that long to complete this because you should be all over this kind of data anyway. If you’re a digital offer in any business and if you’re not looking at this kind of stuff, then it’s probably time to really start managing your business in a much better way. And really, just to reiterate the point, that an incremental improvement, just a 0.5% improvement in the results in this kind of area can deliver you hundreds and hundreds of thousands of pounds extra additional revenue over a twelve month period. So what else is that you could do in your business in 20 minutes that’s going to potentially deliver that kind of result? 

Kelly Molson: Wow. There you go. I think you’ve said it all. Well done. Thank you. I really appreciate this. I threw this at you literally a few days ago to come on and they’ve had no time to prepare whatsoever. So I’m super grateful that you’ve given up a little bit of time for me to talk about it today. This is something that I’m so passionate about. I bloody love this podcast.

I’m so lucky that I get to talk to such lovely people. And I think, like you’ve all said, just like, I mean, like echoing what Andy said, being able to make this industry better is something that is literally like at the core of me right now. I just want to see good people doing really good things and having really good results. 

So if everyone could please just go out and fill the Blooming survey and I’d be really grateful. Thank you. Right, books. Have you all prepared a book today? I didn’t ask you to. I’ve got a book, but I feel like you might have. Right, throw it out. 

Dominic Jones: So I’ve got a book called The Alignment Advantage Transform Your Strategy, Culture and Customers to Succeed. Now, I love a good strategy book, so the last time I was on the podcast I recommended Good Strategy, Bad Strategy, a great book about strategy. I did bill it as the best book on strategy. Scrap that. It’s the second best book on strategy.

This is now the best book on strategy because it talks about how you have to align your culture and as a strategic enabler, your strategy and your experience. And for people who listen to Skip the Queue or fill out the Rubber Cheese Website Survey or work with Convious, one of the best people to work with in the world, they will love this book. It is incredible. The only book to read on Strategy by Richard Nugent, The Alignment Advantage. Fantastic. 

There is also an interview with a great guy from the Mary Rose in chapter two, I can’t remember his name. I think it rhymes with Dominic Jones. I can’t remember it fully, but it’s very good to read.

Kelly Molson: I knew that there was something like that coming. I knew, Dominic. Amazing. Thank you for another number one strategy book. Simon, what would your book be and have you featured in it? 

Simon Addison: I can say I have not featured in this book. Unlike Dom, I don’t read a lot of business and leadership books. I tend to read for escapism and relaxation. But I have picked a workbook and it’s probably the only workbook I’ve gone back to and reread portions of. And it’s called Leadership: Plain and Simple by Steve Radcliffe.

The book was a foundation of a leadership course that I did when I was at the National Trust, which was called Future Engage, Deliver. And it was centered on the idea that in order to be an effective leader, you need to have clarity of your vision for the future. You need to engage your colleagues and your teams in that future and then collectively, you need to work together to deliver it. And it sort of broke that strategy and leadership piece into those three distinct portions. 

And it had some really helpful models in there for self reflection, for getting meaningful feedback from teams and developing techniques to engage stakeholders in the delivery of your vision. I would recommend that obviously it’s not the first or the second best book on leadership, but maybe it’s the third. Who knows?

Kelly Molson: Love that. What’s really interesting is these books. Both neither of those books have been recommended on the podcast before, so I always like it when a new ones come up because I add it onto my little wish list on Amazon. 

Dominic Jones: I’m going to read that book. I’ve not heard of that one, Simon, but that sounds amazing. I do love the book recommendations. I do the same. I go buy them. Except for the Harry Potter one.

Kelly Molson: I already had and you knocked Geoff off as well, didn’t you? 

Dominic Jones: Did I knock Geoff off? 

Kelly Molson: Yeah. Geoff was number one for quite a while

Dominic Jones: Is he no longer number one? Skip the Queue. 

Kelly Molson: No, did I not tell you that you are number one?

Simon Addison: Once you edit this out, Kelly, this is going to be a really short podcast episode. 

Kelly Molson: I’m leaving all of this in. Andy, what about you? Have you got a book that you’d like to share? 

Andy Povey: A book I’ll keep going back to is The Experience Economy by Joe Pine. And I don’t know whether someone else has recommended this in the past, but for me, that whole life chain value thing, the graph where you talk about a thing becoming a commodity and everything moving into the sort of experience space, really fits with what we’re doing in our industry. It really fits with what we do at Convious. The reason I enjoy what we do. 

Kelly Molson: It’s a good book. I’m going to ask Joe if he’ll come on the podcast. 

Andy Povey: So I saw him talking at the Blooloop conference a few years ago. Absolutely compelling. 

Dominic Jones: Could he maybe talk at the January? Why don’t we get him on 2025 podcast? Let’s do that, right? 

Kelly Molson: Yeah, let’s discuss it off the pod. Yeah, we’ll discuss that later. Thank you all. I’m so grateful. Oh, as ever. Sorry, listeners. If you want to win a copy of those books, head over to our Twitter feed. You know what to do. Retweet this podcast announcement. But more importantly, go and fill in the survey. Be so grateful. 

Andy Povey: Fill in the survey. 

Kelly Molson: Fill in the survey. We have got, actually a podcast exclusive. Let me tell you how many attractions have taken part so far. Last year, 2022, 70 attractions from up and down the country took part. This year with a week well, actually, it’s two weeks today, but a week to go. When this podcast launches, 129 attractions have taken part.

So we’ve nearly doubled on last year. I’m so thrilled. But, yeah, if we could get that to 140, that would be amazing. Imagine 140 attractions being able to improve their websites this year, being able to improve their customer service, being able to improve their bottom line. That’s what it’s all about. Thanks, guys. You’ve been amazing. 

Simon Addison: Thanks, Kelly. 

Dominic Jones: Incredible.

Andy Povey: Thank you, Kelly. 



Do you know someone we should be talking to?

Do you know someone fascinating we should be talking to?

If so, email us at hello@rubbercheese.com – we’ll get back to you shortly.


Paul Wright.
Kelly Molson Managing Director

Host of the popular Skip the Queue Podcast, for people working in or working with visitor attractions, she regularly delivers workshops and presentations on the sector at various national conferences and universities including The Visitor Attractions Conference, ASVA and Anglia Ruskin University.

Read more about me

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