One of the last major paintings by J.M.W Turner left in private hands, Ehrenbreitstein (estimate £15-25 million) is unveiled at Sotheby's on June 30, 2017 in London, England. The painting goes on public view from the 1st of July ahead of Sotheby's Evening Sale of Old Masters on the 5th of July. (Photo by Tristan Fewings/Getty Images for Sotheby's)
On a trip to Rome with his niece and nephew, Paul Burke had a firsthand encounter with the shortcomings of today’s cultural experiences, and their effects on Gen Z consumers. Burke was on a guided tour of the Colosseum, and he realized that his niece and nephew were learning more from Google searches on their smartphones than they were from the trained Colosseum curator.
How could it be that a simple Google search offered more insights than a trained tour? It wasn’t that the Colosseum guide’s speech was boring; it just wasn’t as immersive or tailored as a personally directed Google search.
Burke quickly realized that not only did young museumgoers stand to benefit from a technology that brought museums into the 21st century, but the museums themselves were also in need of innovations that would allow them to better understand their visitors. Like most Gen Zers and millennials, Burke’s niece and nephew didn’t want dry statistics about the Colosseum; they wanted to hear real stories about its history and the people who had created the structure.
The guided tour, although it included interesting tidbits, was too distant and clinical for them; it failed to paint a picture of what it really felt like to sit in the amphitheater and watch the gladiators brawl. In a world full of noise, the tour failed to be engaging enough to capture the attention of arguably the most difficult group of people to reach, Gen Zers and millennials.
Using AI And Virtual Reality To Reach Gen Z
Younger generations have come of age with more technology at their disposal, which means that they experience life and art in wildly different ways than their parents.
The young, digitally literate generations want immersion, transportation and, most important, real stories about the people behind the greatest artistic and historical relics. Burke’s lightbulb moment sparked the creation of Guru, a platform that integrates an array of digital services to bring the storytelling experience to life.
The Guru app relies on Beacon technology to serve museumgoers relevant, immersive content as well as track each museumgoer’s path in the museum. Armed with this technology, museums have the chance to understand how people actually want to explore their collections: which collections draw the biggest crowds, where the most time is spent and how individuals move from one exhibition to the next without the prompting of a guide.
According to the American Alliance of Museums, U.S.-based museums spend upwards of $5 billion each year on marketing. Although marketing expenditures typically rise each year, museums continue to bring in the same amount of visitors.
As any business professional can tell you, spending more without seeing more foot traffic is an indication of a broken system. The value proposition of Guru is that museums partnering with the company can lower their visitor-acquisition costs through data insights.
Luckily for the Guru team, they had a world-class art museum just down the road: the San Diego Museum of Art. With the museum’s encouragement and enthusiasm for Guru’s potential to revitalize the experiences of their visitors, Burke and his team were able to continuously evolve their product offering to better suit the needs of both museum and visitor.
Guru recently received Qualcomm Venture’s SeismicSD’s Competition, showing that there is a demand for more immersive communication channels, especially for younger generations, and that companies can profit when using those channels effectively.
Incorporating Emerging Technologies Into Our Organizations
One of the most impressive feats of Guru is that it has created a one-stop shop for the digital tools millennials might need to enjoy a museum.
According to Nielsen, 98 percent of millennials own a smartphone, and a study by research firm Park Associates predicted that 8 percent of them will buy a VR headset. Those numbers are expected to rise significantly over the coming years, alongside the growing trend of millennials visiting more museums for events (especially for entertainment like concerts and happy hours).
When you add features like augmented reality and assisted tours, it is clear that Guru is capitalizing on technology trends that are on track to gain popularity in the coming years.
For today’s leaders who are looking to get the most out of their Gen Z and millennial workforce, how will emerging technologies play a role in your communication strategy? Are technologies such as AI and virtual reality worth the investment from your organizations to build a stronger foothold with young consumers?
Museums are starting to make that bet. Will you?