Last year was a big one for Newport’s big houses. Attendance at the Preservation Society of Newport County’s mansions increased 11 percent over 2011 to 883,000, the largest one-year jump ever.
The gain follows investments of more than $1 million over the last four years to create four new tours, including adult and youth audio tours at The Breakers, an audio tour for Rosecliff and a tour based on the life of servants for The Elms. In addition, the society began its season two weeks earlier than the year before.
This year, the society plans to push the opening of the spring season up even more to Feb. 15 from its previous norm of the first week in April. And the daily operating season will be expanded five weeks from Labor Day to Columbus Day, a 25 percent increase from previous practice.
It is worth noting that the Preservation Society’s course of action is one that any business can use to guide its own.
In addition to its ongoing maintenance of the society’s 11 mansions (and given the size and architectural significance of the properties, that expense is not inconsiderable), the nonprofit invested in its assets by creating the new audio tours. The new tours make the mansions more accessible and the experience more personal.
But the society did more. It saw that the market for touring the mansions is more a year-round opportunity than before. By opening earlier, the society paid attention to its customers (and potential customers) and changed the way it did things. This year, those changes are going to be even more dramatic, with an extra two months of daily operations expected.
Investing in your assets and listening to customers. Sounds like a great plan for getting better results. •