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FIXED PRICE ADMISSION FOR VISITORS | DECISION MEMO | NOVEMBER 15, 2013

To: From: Date: Recommendation:

Chapter Rob Sokol, Dir of Strategic Programs November 15, 2013 Transition to fixed admission for visitors

FIXED PRICE ADMISSION FOR VISITORS


SUMMARY OF RATIONALE
The Cathedrals visitor traffic has been trending down slightly (-1%) over this calendar year, compared to 2012. The average donation at the Welcome Desk is also trending down, although more significantly (-24% in Q1 FY14, from $4.15/per to $3.15/per). In addition, the Cathedral is actively looking for new revenue opportunities to address the possibility of a near-term operating deficit. A small task force was assembled in September 2013 to identify all possible revenue-generating strategies for FY14-15. A fixed admission policy could add significantly to the bottom line for FY14. Cathedral leadership is recommending that the Cathedral pilot a fixed admission policy for six months at the single point of entry for visitors, beginning January of 2014. Buses already pay a fixed price of $6/person or $175/bus and the Cathedral already makes a concerted ask of every visitor for $10 at the door. We recommend that fixed prices are instituted at the rates of: $10 for adults $6 for children (<12), seniors (>65), military, students children under two years old get in free $25 family discount, which includes one-year NCA membership 10% coupon for gift shop (onsite or online) with NCA membership Free most Sundays, all day Free Worshippers (and those seeking pastoral care), NCA Members plus one guest (to eventually include all active donors and the Congregation)

The American Alliance of Museums (AAM) has completed extensive studies on transitions into fixed admission policies for cultural institutions around the country. The outcome is generally positive, and results in additional revenue at the door, as well as additional revenue in the gift shops and increased memberships. The issue of accessibility for those who cannot afford the price of admission will need to be addressed. The Cathedrals recommendation is that a time or day, repeated regularly by month or week, be instituted to allow access for free. We are recommending that the Cathedral be completely free and open to the public all day most Sundays. Although there is certainly an opportunity cost for this practice, we believe that it could help balance out with goodwill the challenges we may face from those constituencies who are upset with this new policy. By the end of the 2014 high season (June), the Cathedral will be able to assess whether or not this is a policy worth continuing. If the positive outcomes do not outweigh any consequences from implementing the fixed admission policy, the Cathedral can return to the current suggested donation policy on July 1, 2014.

PROS
Additional $150,000 in FY14, $300,000 in FY15 (assumes 10% decrease in traffic) this could increase the average ticket price from less than $4 to approximately $7/guest More efficient, positive transaction at Welcome Desk current transaction almost always requires negotiation for some amount of donation once visitors realize that it is not, in fact, a fixed admission. This negotiation is especially unappreciated by neighbors, Congregation members, and NCA members. It also takes time to negotiate, which slows down the rate of transactions at the desk and increases the likelihood that guests will become impatient while waiting in line and try to circumnavigate the process. Increased NCA membership AAM studies have shown that with the offer of a discount at the door, membership goes up.
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FIXED PRICE ADMISSION FOR VISITORS | DECISION MEMO | NOVEMBER 15, 2013

Increased sales in gift shop AAM studies have also shown that, with the increase in price and memberships, people want more from their experience and want to capitalize on the discount offered with the membership, and so overall sales to gift shops rise. Free to worshippers, Congregation, NCA members these groups, along with neighbors, are typically the most disgruntled guests who regularly visit the Cathedral and have to negotiate entrance via the Welcome Desk. Free all day most Sundays Opening to the public for free on Sundays would not only mitigate the issue of accessibility, but it would help address the complaint that we are charging for entrance to a house of prayer for all people. Gatekeepers Employing gatekeepers will ensure that most visitors go by the Welcome Desk to gain entrance to the Cathedral, where many currently get around the desk by entering through one of the exits. Unscheduled Bus Tours Bus groups who attempt to skip the scheduling and payment process could pay individual fees, instead, through the main entrance.

CONS
Bad Press This change in entry policy has the potential to generate bad press. We will need a communication strategy to mitigate any voiced opposition raised by local constituencies. Those already upset mainly neighbors, clergy, and Congregation members with the installation of a suggested donation request at the door in 2011 may be even more upset when it is changed to a fixed admission. Turning people away This will be a genuine barrier to entrance for visitors, enforced by gatekeepers, and if people are not worshippers or NCA members and do not want to pay an admission fee, they will be turned away. This already happens with unscheduled bus groups during high season, but it is not a pleasant experience and would be a significant culture change for some of our closest constituencies.

COSTS
$50,500 Gatekeepers (82 hrs/wk, $11/hr, plus benefits) $92,000 Estimated opportunity cost of no admission fee on Sundays Potential drop in retail sales on Sunday Although the gift shop could remain open, AAM studies have shown that retail sales go down while entrance is free, so the Cathedral could see an additional loss via gift shop revenue on Sundays (currently one of our best days for sales). $2500 new signage, uniforms (blazers), additional stanchions

TIMELINE
January 2014 Implementation Review results monthly June 2014 Make decision on continued implementation through FY15

OTHER SOLUTIONS CONSIDERED


Raise Specialty Tour and Audio Guide pricing These prices would actually come down, as they would be an additional charge to admission, where they are currently seen as the price instead of a donation. Raise suggested donation fee The Cathedral considered raising the suggested donation to $15, but believe, based on other organizations experiences, that this would probably not raise the average donation by enough to balance out the increase in anxiety over the price change

Approved Not Approved