Visitors Count!

Visitors Count! is AASLH’s visitor research program for mid- to large-sized museums and history organizations. This program provides the data and insights you need to create a successful and thriving history organization.

Visitors Count! clients receive a one-time use of the Visitors Count! survey instrument, guidance from AASLH staff from start to finish, data entry, processing and analysis, a final report, and a one-day meeting.

Participants in the program work with AASLH to customize a survey instrument and a plan for collecting replies. Then, an expert analyzes the data and creates a detailed custom report. The Visitors Count! report places your visitor survey data in perspective by comparing your results with similar museums, all while keeping your data confidential. It also provides statistically-derived “key drivers” that help you understand what makes for a great visitor experience at your unique institution. At the end of the survey and analysis period, participants are invited to Nashville for an optional (but highly recommended) meeting to discuss their findings with AASLH staff, the analyst who prepared their report, and other museums in the program.

Why is Benchmarking So Important?

Survey ratings only tell part of the story. Visitors Count! places your visitor survey data in perspective by comparing your results with museums similar to yours, all while keeping data confidential. Find out how you stack up to museums or sites in your region, those with similar budgets, and more. Visitors Count! is the only program that offers this valuable benchmarking feature.

Survey Types

Visitors Count! offers three survey types: Gate Visitor, Teacher, and Spotlight. Which is right for your museum?

Visitors Count! Client List

See List

Free Info Webinar

Watch Now

Why Survey Your Visitors?


Gone are the days when you could base your museum or historic site’s definition of success on visitation totals, budget reports, or staff goals and objectives. Successful organizations understand what people expect, need, and want when visiting―and what will bring them back. And only your visitors can provide this critical insight.

It’s no longer enough to know why people visit museums and sites. You need to know why people come to your museum or site. What makes your museum unique? Only when you know this can you develop a visitor experience that builds audience loyalty and guarantees your doors stay open.

What Makes Visitors Count! Unique

A survey is more than a list of questions. In order to gather and receive the meaningful, actionable information you need to create and sustain a successful organization, you need a proven survey instrument.

Not every survey is a proven instrument.

AASLH and its partner, the Center for Nonprofit Management of Nashville, worked for more than three years to develop and test each Visitors Count! survey instrument. The surveys are a combination of the following types of questions:

  • Ratings
  • Attitudinal
  • Open-ended
  • Demographic

Survey questions were tested and piloted in the field. The result is an in-depth, detailed, and thorough look at your visitors that uses empirical, statistical, and rated data.

Visitors Count! has taken the guess work out of surveying. The results leave no doubt in your mind. When you use your survey results in reports to board members, requests to funders or communication with your community partners you can be confident with the data you are presenting.

AASLH always keeps your institution’s data confidential and preserves your results so when you decide to survey again (recommended every three to five years) you can compare the data to see if changes you made improved your position with visitors (or teachers).

Read Case Studies

Survey Types

Gate Visitor Survey

The Gate Visitor survey collects data and feedback from general visitors to museums, historic sites, historic houses, and related institutions. If you want to survey your spring and summer visitors, the registration deadline is in mid-February each year. To survey your summer and fall visitors the sign-up deadline is June 1. Of course, there is some flexibility with seasons, particularly if your museum or site is located in an area where winter is a significant tourist season or you have other considerations you want to discuss with us. We are always happy to tailor your survey project so you can collect the most reliable and accurate data.

Once you register for Visitors Count!, AASLH works with you to create your survey instrument which is a combination of Visitors Count! questions and custom questions that focus on issues specific to your museum. We provide an online orientation session and program handbook along with personal service and guidance throughout the project. Once your survey instrument is ready, you distribute the questionnaires to people who visit your facility with the goal of collecting up to 100 completed surveys in each season (200 total). After data entry, processing and analysis by our partner agency, the Center for Nonprofit Management of Nashville, your final report is delivered electronically. An optional but highly recommended one-day meeting is held the following week in Nashville to help you understand your results, benchmarks, key drivers, and priorities for digging deeper. From start to finish, the process takes approximately 10 months.

The Teacher Survey

The Teacher survey collects data and feedback from teachers who bring their class to your facility for an onsite program. This program runs on the school year calendar. Sign up is each August. We work with you to create your survey instrument which is a combination of Visitors Count! questions and custom questions written to ask teachers about issues specific to your museum or site. We provide an online orientation session, program handbook and personal service and guidance throughout the project.

Once your survey instrument is ready, you distribute the questionnaire to teachers with the goal of collecting up to 100 completed surveys during the school year. There’s also a brief student survey; the goal is to collect up to 200 of them. After data entry, processing and analysis by staff at our partner agency, the Center for Nonprofit Management of Nashville, your final report is delivered electronically the following September. An optional but highly recommended one-day meeting is then held one day prior to the start of the AASLH Annual Meeting in whichever city is hosting the conference to help you understand your results, benchmarks, key drivers, and priorities for digging deeper. From start to finish, the process takes about 12 months.

Spotlight Surveys

Spotlight surveys offer organizations that have used the Gate Visitor survey in the past fifteen months the opportunity to take a closer look at their marketing, exhibitions, or programs. Spotlight surveys are an affordable and quick way to shine a light on one key area and collect valuable visitor data. We work with you to customize the two-page survey instrument. Upon your collection and shipment of 150 completed surveys, Visitors Count! will deliver your electronic report in 6-8 weeks. Sign up for Spotlight surveys is year round.

Ready to Start Surveying Your Visitors?

Visitors Count! Fees

  • AASLH Member: $3,750
  • Nonmember: $4,500
  • Spotlight Survey: $1,850

Payment can be made in two installments (over two fiscal years for most institutions).

What is Included in the Fee? 

  • One-time use of the survey instrument
  • Guidance from Visitors Count! staff from start to finish
  • Custom survey questions
  • Data entry, expert analysis, easy-to-use report, and materials to help you prepare to present the results to others
  • Materials to help you begin to dig deeper into your survey data and prioritize next steps
  • Benchmarks (comparisons to similar organizations)
  • Statistically derived list of areas most critical to your visitors which we call your Key Drivers
  • Backup and storage of your report
  • Complete confidentiality
  • One-day meeting and ongoing communication with AASLH and Center for Nonprofit Management staff

How to Enroll

To enroll in the Visitors Count! survey program or find out more about how Visitors Count! can help your organization, contact Cherie Cook, AASLH Senior Program Manager, at cook@aaslh.org or 573-893-5164.