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2023 Visitor Experience Conference

Presented by:

Gateway Ticketing Systems

Sunday, October 22

Time and Location TBD

Meet the VEX team and check in for your VEX23 experience!

Improv for Visitor Experience

10:30 a.m. - 12:30 p.m.

Customer service requires thinking on your feet, bringing your A game, and – most importantly – an open mind! And there is no better way to open your mind than through the collaborative and exciting art of improvisation. You’ll learn tips and tricks for staying present and rolling with the twists and turns that only customer service professionals can withstand. No improv or acting experience necessary! 

Museum Workers United

Adam Rizzo, Coordinator of College and Pre-Professional Programs and Museum Educator at the Philadelphia Museum of Art and President of AFSCME Local 397

1:30 - 3:30 p.m.

This workshop will provide an overview of some of
the most impactful worker-led actions that have created meaningful change at institutions
across the country. From salary transparency to unionization to social media, workshop
participants will engage in hands-on activities and challenging conversations with colleagues
about how we as workers can use our voices to improve our working conditions and in turn
improve the institutions at which we work.

DEAI Fellows Meet Up

8:30 a.m.

The Audience Engagement Committee will share meet-up information closer to the conference.

We Are the Access Champions

Alex Boyle, Director of Programs, Art-Reach

Dani Rose, Managing Director, Art-Reach

10:30 a.m. - 12:30 p.m.

Customer Service is the first touchpoint of connectivity our guests have with our cultural experiences. How can we ensure that our policies, practices, and procedures make welcoming the community of people with disabilities a priority? By being Access Champions! This interactive session will help you discover your organization's obligations in the ADA as well as best practices for outrageous customer service and intentional inclusion.

Resuscitate your DEI Efforts

Sara Furr, PhD Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer at the Field Museum

1:30 - 3:30 p.m.

This workshop will review the typical pitfalls organizations encounter when beginning a DEI journey.  You’ll learn how to avoid these pitfalls or how to turn the course if you’re in the midst of your journey.  You will leave the workshop with tangible actions that you can take regardless of your position within your organization. 

Wilmington Dine Around

5:00 p.m. Hotel du Pont Lobby

Meet in the lobby of the Hotel du Pont to join VEX Committee and Board members for the dine-arounds.

Monday, October 23
Keynote Address with Mardi Fuller

9:00 a.m.

Mardi Fuller advocates for racial equity through writing, speaking and community building.  A lifelong backcountry adventurer, in January 2021 she became the first known Black person to hike all 48 of New Hampshire’s high peaks in winter.  She lives in Boston where she works as a nonprofit communications director and volunteers with the local Outdoor Afro network.  She writes for Outside magazine, SKI magazine, Melanin Basecamp and more.  Mardi is committed to personal and corporate Black liberation and thereby, liberation for all humanity.  She believes deeply in nature's healing power.

Join us in VEX HQ for a coffee break after the Keynote Address
Putting People First: Lessons in Staff Engagement

10:40 - 11:50 a.m.

In 2022, the Delaware Museum of Nature and Science reopened after a massive renovation. In 2023, DelMNS leadership decided to change how they engaged with their staff in an effort to improve staff relations, morale, and move toward a people-first model. Learn how this museum is reimagining the employer/employee relationship and changing how they hire, train, develop, and recognize staff. VEX VP and DelMNS Assistant Director of Experience and Culture Pat Wittwer will share how he is doing the work on a day-to-day basis.

Demystifying Data Reports/Experience is Everything

10:40 - 11:50 a.m.

The era of big data is over! To the benefit of our schedules and our patience, the goal of reports has shifted from “how do I see all of my data” to “what data should I be seeing?” This session tackles how to break down the monolith of reporting possibilities into different segments for different purposes: reporting for leadership, reporting to run your fundraising operations, reporting for short-term strategic initiatives, reporting for day-to-day goals.


At Goosechase, experience is everything. Originally inspired by scavenger hunts, Goosechase is an online platform that enables cultural attractions and organizations to engage, activate, and educate their guests and communities through delightful interactive experiences. Hatched in Canada, Goosechase has been powering hundreds of thousands of global tours, team building, training, fundraising, education, and recreational games since 2011.

Creating a Customer Service Training

1:15 - 2:15 p.m. 

This session will focus on the elements needed to create a strong customer service training module, whether for your department or entire organization.

“Zero to Hero”: How a Consistent and Supportive Training Program Creates a High-Impact Team

2:30 - 3:30 p.m. 

Guest satisfaction and efficiency are very important to any museum or cultural institution, but how do we get our teams to deliver? A consistent and supportive training program from the start can do just that! Join us as we share our journey, our current process, and the benefits we’ve seen.

Evergreen Access - Taking the Stress out of Inclusion

2:30 - 3:30 p.m. 

Accessibility and inclusion is a shared responsibility across agencies. There are several access initiatives that, when properly implemented, take the stress out of achieving institutional goals for inclusion. This session will explore those services and features that can provide year-round, low-barrier access solutions. Make inclusion an "evergreen" concept by engaging with fellow participants in this interactive learning experience.

Setting the Table for Change & Fostering New Perspectives

10:40 - 11:50 a.m.

After an enlightening visit to Eastern State Penitentiary, Museum Interpreters at Winterthur corroborated to create a new program that engages open ended questions and discussion. This presentation will provide a template to empower education staff to contribute to tour/program development and fosters critical thinking and conversation with visitors and take a look at how Winterthur has literally set the table differently this year. We "deconstructed" a cherished Federal dining table to show its parts. We interpreted historical place settings with a new playfulness. These are ways to prepare our guests for next year's contemporary artwork in the rooms. Any museum can create small changes like this that point the way toward future evolution.

Lunch & Tours

11:50 a.m. - 1:15 p.m. See lunch options

Museums in the Digital Age: Adapting to an Ever-Changing World

1:15 - 2:15 p.m. 

This presentation will go over how one mid-sized museum managed to quickly adapt to the ever changing conditions of the pandemic, the challenges of visitor services staff working from home, and continuing our programming through digital and online content, while staying relevant to our mission and audiences.

The Importance of Listening to Your Guests: Are You Truly Doing That Today?

1:15 - 2:15 p.m. 

Join our friends from Tatvam Insights by NetServ for an in-depth look at improving customer experience by consolidating feedback and commentary from across all your customer feedback channels.

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Planning, Piloting, and Patience: A Case Study in Getting Unstuck

2:30 - 3:30 p.m. 

With COVID and a leadership change as catalysts, Nemours Estate started exploring ways to expand its impact, solve some persistent issues, and become a more dynamic organization. By combining past and present planning—along with some strategic risk taking—Nemours Estate increased annual visitation and reinvigorated its operations.

Dynamic Pricing

3:45 - 4:45 p.m. 

Session description coming soon

Leveraging Volunteers to Facilitate the Inclusive Visitor Experience

3:45 - 4:45 p.m. 

The Smithsonian launched a new volunteer program this spring (2023), Smithsonian Ambassadors. These volunteers give scheduled orientation talks and rove the National Mall, engaging with visitors in a landscape that can be disorienting and overwhelming. With this program we wanted to elevate their awareness of the accessibility needs and challenges of our visitors and make them able to actively support these visitors. This presentation will discuss this program, the training involved and the challenges faced in keeping volunteers active in their accessibility knowledge.

Access For All

3:45 - 4:45 p.m. 

Join Meg Bowersox and Jenn Tham from the Museum of the American Revolution as they discuss community engagement, projects, and improvements to accessibility at the Museum. Bowersox and Tham will discuss collaborative program development, outreach, and how staff training promote a more inclusive museum experience. The Museum of the American Revolution was recently awarded the Arts Partner Award from Art-Reach for its commitment to accessible programming and staff training.

VEX Closing 

5:00 - 5:30 p.m.

VEX23 Celebration

7:00 - 9:00 p.m. Delaware Museum of Nature & Science

Buses depart from Hotel du Pont at 6:45 p.m.

Tuesday, October 24
Brandywine Valley Experience

Bus departs Hotel du Pont at 8:00 a.m.

Hagley Museum & Library

8:30 - 10:45 a.m.

Delaware Art Museum

2:15 - 4:15 p.m.

Winterthur Museum, Garden, & Library

11:00 a.m. - 2:00 p.m.

VEX23 After Party

6:00 - 8:00 p.m. Stitch House Brewery

Wednesday, October 25
Longwood Gardens Experience

9:00 a.m. - 1:00 p.m.

Buses depart Hotel du Pont at 8:20 a.m. and depart Longwood Gardens at 1:00 p.m.

VEX Chat

Time and Location TBD

Join the VEX team to share your ideas about the 2024 Visitor Experience Conference and learn more about how to become more involved with the Visitor Experience Group.

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