The Missouri History Museum’s Time Travelers Program Sweetens Membership Appeal

Strategy: Be Creative (More with Less), Collaborate in New Ways, Emphasize Value, Enhance Your Product

Type of attraction: Historical Society, Museum/Historic Site

Summary: Bringing in new members can be a challenge for any organization, but the Missouri History Museum has figured out a creative way to sweeten the deal for their own members.

Bringing in new members can be a challenge for any organization, but the Missouri History Museum has figured out a creative way to sweeten the deal for their own members —as well as members at several hundred historical institutions—by creating a reciprocal benefits program.  Historical institutions across the country have the opportunity to opt into this free program which requires that they provide benefits to the members of participating Time Traveler institutions.  Benefits can include free or discounted admission, free or discounted gifts, free parking, a restaurant discount, a special event offer or a free or discounted tour. 

The Missouri History Museum launched the program in 1998 with approximately 50 participating sites, and as of 2011 the program has grown to include 208 participating institutions in 41 states.  The actual number of sites is greater than 208 as some institutions operate multiple sites.  “The primary goal of the program is to create a valuable benefit that encourages membership,” explains Stacye Doss, Time Travelers Administrator for the Missouri History Museum. 

The Missouri History Museum covers all the administrative costs of the program including an annual renewal time for enrolling new members and maintaining the Time Travelers website at http://timetravelers.mohistory.org.  To streamline the program’s administration, renewals and new enrollments are all handled once each year in September.

“Our members just love this program—they eat it up!” says Doss.  “We have members who plan their vacations around Time Travelers sites.  They even report back to us when they discover a great historic site that’s not part of the program, and they encourage us to invite them to become a member of Time Travelers.” 

Participating historical institutions range in size from very small to some that are much larger than the Missouri History Museum.  Doss notes that when the recession hit in 2008 “a lot of these places were suffering financially, and they were very grateful that we were doing this.  A number of people called to confirm that the program was still available—and still free.”   More than 50 new institutions signed up in 2009 and 2010 reflecting the strong and growing interest in finding creative ways to add value in tough economic times.