The Arizona Museum of Natural History offers something along the lines of what you described. We have the typical membership packages, but we also offer something we call a Dino Pass. People can pick how many children ($15 per child) and adults ($25 per adult) they want to include and they can visit the museum as many times as they'd like for the year for free. The Dino Pass is not considered a membership though and they do not get discounts to programs, camps or birthday parties since the rates per person are pretty low. I believe the idea behind this option was to have something to offer smaller families living on a budget (our Basic Memberships include 2 adults and 2 kids and Dino passes allow a cheaper option for families that are looking for admission for 1 adult and 1 child) or adults who would be less inclined to want the program discounts but may still want to visit several times a year.
Originally we called the Dino Pass "Build-A-Membership" and it created a fair amount of confusion. When we advertise programs, camps and birthday parties we tend to list member and nonmember rates. I'm sure you can imagine how confusing it was for people that had a Build-A-Membership to be told that they don't actually have a Membership and that they would have to pay the higher rate. We had to deal with a people who wanted to upgrade their Build-A-Membership to a Basic Membership once they realized it wouldn't get them the perks they ultimately wanted.
Since it was changed to the Dino Pass, it has helped considerably, but we still get people who confuse the two. If you decide to try to offer customize-able memberships, I would be careful about what you offer and what you call the different options. I would try to bring in other departments to make sure you don't create a potential headache for them.
Hope that information helps!
Hilary, experiments with customizable memberships have been iffy at best. A lot that have been tried are no longer being offered. The first to try this was the Whitney in NY. You could pick a track or an interest area. Others allowed you to build your own by buying a membership for each person in your family. So mom Snd dad and tee we o kids, or mom, grandma and one child and so on. That was offered at the Phoenix Zoo, Woodland Park Zoo snd Georgia Aquarium. I know at least the Phoenix Zoo abandoned it.
the problem is confusion. If you give people too many choices they just won't decide. And the other problem is staffing. If there are lots of options it just takes more staff and processes to service.there is really nothing wrong with the traditional membership program that most people understand and are used to. If you want more benefits, you pay more for a higher level. Membership is not going to fit all circumstances of all people all the time.
one of the best and most successful "customizable" membership programs is at the Museum of science Boston. Their program offers memberships for 2 people, 5 people and 8 people. So if you are a single dad with one child pick a 2 person membershipif you are 2 parents, 4 kids and grandma and grandpa then buy an 8. And the people you bring can change on every visit. They also have a premium 2, 5, and 8 option that is a higher price but includes 2 hours of free parking on every visit.be careful copying what other programs are doing. Often you may be copying a program that isn't working or doesn't have staying power!Dana Hines
American Alliance of Museums2451 Crystal Drive, Suite 1005Arlington, VA 22202