The Kröller-Müller Museum is located in the middle of De Hoge Veluwe National Park in the Netherlands. Home to the world’s second-largest Van Gogh collection and a beautiful sculpture garden, the museum attracts hundreds of thousands of visitors each year. In the past, most visitors bought their tickets offline. But when the COVID-19 pandemic hit, the museum needed to quickly roll out an online ticketing system. Lies Boelrijk from the Kröller-Müller Museum talks about how CM.com helped make this possible.
Lies has worked for the Kröller-Müller Museum for over ten years and is head of marketing and business development. Under her leadership, the museum’s annual visitor count has grown from 250,000 to 400,000. The proportion of foreign visitors has also grown from 30 to around 50 percent. Before the pandemic, ticket sales were primarily handled by De Hoge Veluwe National Park, says Lies. “Visitors simply bought their ticket when entering the park. We hardly sold any tickets online. But when we were allowed to reopen after the first lockdown, we had to switch to selling all our tickets online and working with time slots.”
The new system came with a lot of pressure on Lies and her team. “If a museum is finally allowed to reopen and you can't sell any tickets, then you really have a problem,” says Lies, looking back on the challenge she and her team faced. That’s when she chose to partner with CM.com. Her decision was largely based on good faith. “For me and CM.com, there was a huge responsibility on our shoulders,” she recalls.
“The system just had to be online when we were allowed to reopen. The fact that we succeeded in doing that was a very good start to our relationship with CM.com. And we’ve been up and running without a problem ever since.” Lies says that expanding online ticketing had long been on the museum’s radar, but there was a barrier to doing so without De Hoge Veluwe National Park. “The pandemic left us without a choice. And now we are seeing all the benefits. We really are finally in charge of our own ticket stand.”
For the Kröller-Müller Museum, it was very important that CM.com only charge a fee for each ticket sold. This meant that the museum did not have to make a large investment at the start of the project to set up the ticketing system. Lies says, “The fact that CM.com started the project at its own cost was definitely a plus for us. And I think that would apply for a lot of organizations in the cultural sector. If I had to raise the funds first to be able to start, I don't know if I would have been able to do that so quickly.”
An online ticketing system must make it easy for visitors to order tickets. And the museum’s ticketing system has definitely achieved that goal. During an online survey, visitors were asked if they thought it was inconvenient to order their tickets online due to the pandemic. “80 percent said they had no problems at all with that. Visitors also said they found it easier to order online now. More than 90 percent rated the usability of the ticket page as good to excellent.” Lies was also impressed that the survey could be conducted efficiently using an aftersales mailer issued by the ticket system.
Lies says that she has enjoyed working as a partner with CM.com. “I feel like we speak the same language, and that we can easily share our problems and frustrations with them. CM.com is always easily accessible. They are positive and solution-oriented, and they like to think along with us. Whatever we need, I don’t think I’ve ever heard them say ‘No’ or ‘That’s not possible’. We encourage each other to develop the platform further, which makes CM.com even more interesting for other institutions in the museum sector. It feels great to be a forerunner in a couple of areas.”
The museum has undergone a tremendous change throughout its cooperation with CM.com, says Lies. “We’ve gone from only physical ticket sales and knowing little about your visitors, to an online ticketing system and communicating directly with our customers. And that’s just the beginning.”
“Because we now manage our own cash flows, our administration has also improved significantly. Our Finance team has been very happy with the change, because they now have much more insight into our revenues,” says Lies. So, what’s next for the Kröller-Müller Museum? Working in an even more data-driven way, says Lies. “From sending newsletters from the Mobile Marketing Cloud to leveraging WhatsApp... We’re curious how services like that can add value for us. And for that, we’re happy to continue using CM.com's knowledge and expertise.”
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