The Museum of Arts and Design is using Dexibit’s Scenario Simulation tool to plan for reopening. We ask Kyle Wilbert, Visitor Experience Manager, how the team is using the tool to simulate different reopening dates, capacity constraints, and create a baseline for visitation and revenue.
Kyle Wilbert, Visitor Experience Manager, The Museum of Arts and Design
Who is using the scenario tool within the Museum of Arts and Design?
Our museum re-opening team is the primary group of users. It’s a cross-departmental team with members from the Director’s Office, Finance, Marketing, Visitor Experience, and Operations.
What did you hope to achieve with the Simulation tool and what were your first impressions?
At first, I think we were hoping to find something to help reduce the uncertainty to a manageable level. Dexibit provided excellent guidance as to what assumptions we should focus on to help build our first simulations.
On our first attempt, we created Best, Probable, and Worst case scenarios. This was back in April, during the height of COVID-19 in NYC, so the Best and Worst case scenarios were quite far from each other.
The first attempt itself showed me that the Simulation tool is most useful to help narrow down the number of potential futures. This helps create space and time for our team to make more pro-active decisions, rather than reactive decisions based on catastrophizing and getting overwhelmed by uncertainty.
What types of scenarios are you putting together?
Now, as NYC is in its first phase of reopening and members of our team have been brainstorming with other museum professionals across the city and country, our plans for reopening are beginning to take shape.
For our scenario planning, this means that our ranges for reopening dates and capacity constraints are smaller and more focused.
Now we’re taking our Probable scenario and making variations of it. In these variations, our reopen date, capacity, and open hours/days remain more or less the same, and we can focus on modeling wider variations in factors that are harder to predict, such as visitor origin and demand.
Dexibit’s Scenario Simulation tool (click to enlarge) *image uses sample data
How are you using your scenarios to plan for reopening?
We expect to continue refining and possibly adding more Probable scenario variations as reopening nears and we gain more information about what is happening on local, state, national, and international levels.
We also plan on creating some Dashboards within our Dexibit setup to monitor key metrics related to the scenarios to help us know when to review/revise our assumptions and scenarios.
The scenarios will act as baselines to help us determine how actual visitation and revenue are performing. Based on how actual performance compares to each scenario, we can see which scenario is closest to the present and adjust our plans accordingly.
For example, perhaps we see that our visitation is consistently performing better than our best case probable scenario. Then we’d likely open our hours more or increase capacity if local regulations allow. With more revenue coming in from visitation, perhaps we’d initiate a project that had been on hold since we had been planning on less revenue.
Image via The Museum of Arts and Design
How has the Simulation tool made planning for reopening easier for you and your team?
While there is still uncertainty as no tool can predict the future, the Simulation tool helps put some bounds on the uncertainty. With some boundaries in place, this frees us to face what may happen head-on and draw up plans proactively.
For example, if scenario A occurs, then we can expect to have visitation in the range of x to y, revenue in the range of x to y, and as a result we will need to take actions a, b, and c, and defer projects d & e until the situation changes.
Scenario planning can help with overall planning and prioritization throughout the museum as we navigate the uncertainty.
What advice do you have for other museum professionals on reopening and using this tool?
Use the framework Dexibit has provided for developing assumptions and simulating scenarios, especially if you’ve never done this before. The amount of information internally and externally is overwhelming at times and it helps to have a framework to help choose the data and information you need.
This is an iterative process. The situation around our organizations is changing quickly and constantly. As the COVID-19 situation evolves, we will likely have to evolve our operating models many times as well. Monitoring what’s happening and comparing to our scenarios will allow us to accomplish these pivots as needed, hopefully with less stress.
Be brave. Modeling scenarios and talking about their implications can bring about strong emotions. Acknowledge and accept these emotions and use that energy to make thoughtful plans for each scenario.
Otherwise, when these emotions come up in the moment sometime in the future and you find yourself without a plan because you hadn’t done any simulations, you are going to have a much harder time making data-informed decisions.