The Science Museum in London puts on awe-inspiring exhibits and events for over 3 million visitors a year. Amy Bregan, Development Events Manager at the Museum, shares an inside look at how her event team has it down to a, well, science.
The Science Museum is one of London’s big attractions: Did you go there as a kid? Fascinated by science in general?
My dad made a point of taking us to museums every weekend when I was a child, so I went to the Science Museum many times. I didn’t think science was something that fascinated me while I was a school, but working here really brings science to life in everyday situations.
What is the job of a Development Events Manager at the Museum? Tell us more about the team setup.
I manage a team of two; we devise and deliver a programme of events to support the fundraising work of the Development Team as a whole. We break down the work among our team by supporting on different areas. For example, one of us supports corporate fundraising, and another has a focus on patrons. We manage all opening and launches of new permanent galleries and temporary exhibitions. I also support Development Events Teams across our sister museums in the north when they are working on larger events.
The event I am most proud of was the opening of Wonderlab: The Statoil Gallery, the Science Museum’s new interactive gallery. It required lots of creativity on my part to develop an event for adults that focused on a children’s gallery.
What are your biggest events? What events are you most proud of in your career?
We usually have three very large scale events across a year: two launches for about 500-700 key contacts apiece, and the Directors Annual Dinner which sees 400 supporters and advocates for the Science Museum Group attend to hear a key note speech.
The event I am most proud of was the opening of Wonderlab: The Statoil Gallery, the Science Museum’s new interactive gallery. It required lots of creativity on my part to develop an event for adults that focused on a children’s gallery. In the end I feel we had the perfect balance that enables adults to enjoy themselves and see the gallery with the playfulness and curiosity of children.
The experience is key for your guests; how did technology improve your team’s ability to provide a flawless experience over the past few years?
We have been able to transform the way we manage the invitation process through a greater understanding of our database, which is currently Raisers Edge, and soon to be Tessitura. This has allowed us to provide detailed analysis of guest journeys while they have been a contact of the Science Museum.
When we started to use zkipster I felt this was a real shift and allowed us to present a professional and seamless guest registration point. Which is so important, as it’s often the first interaction the guest has with an organisation. It is wonderful how efficiently we can import and export data in and out of zkipster too, further helping with analysis of guests to find the best contact routes for them.
How have you used technology to add a special or unique touch to your event?
We use online access to private archive video of the event so guests who could make it get to see an overview of the evening, and those that couldn’t can see what they missed. We see this as an important element of follow-up!
Describe a day-of for a “big” event – what’s the most important item to get through it?
The day of a big event often starts very early in the morning loading in equipment, working around public opening hours! For me the most important item to get through is my phone (after a coffee of course!). It allows me to track e-mails for any changes and feed these back to my team to be reflected on logistical notes and guests lists. Running an event means I am often away from my desk in the lead up, but if I can work as I move around the Museum, my team, contractors and key guests can all keep in touch. It also means that I can check in on the zkipster app during the evening of an event to see where we are in terms of guest numbers – often how I gauge when to start speeches.
On the other side of things, what is your biggest event nightmare?
My biggest event nightmare would be that there was a problem with catering, and we had no food or drink at a very large scale event. I feel people are often more relaxed when they are being fed.
Now for the rapid fire round! Tell us which app or service you’re using for…
- Event Registration: Eventbrite
- Ticketing: Tessitura
- Check-in: zkipster
- Meeting Scheduling: Outlook
- Presentations: Powerpoint
- Floor plan design: zkipster
What apps or services are you using after your event to help you evaluate its success or gather feedback from attendees?
As our events very much focus on relationships, this would be gathered by personalized e-mails sent by each of the fundraisers, and collated into Raisers Edge (and soon, Tessitura).
Finally, what piece of event tech can’t you live without?
Checking guests in and reporting through zkipster it has made the process so much easier to manage and so slick.
Thanks for sharing a peek into the events world at the Museum!
Interested in more inside looks at top event teams around the world? Check out the rest of our interviews with event professionals.