Is a collaborative museum pass a good idea?

In the Netherlands and Amsterdam we have two collective museum cards. The first is the so called ‘museumkaart’ or museumcard. This card gives you free entrance, for a year, to about 400 museums in the netherlands after you paid a subscription fee of about 35 euros. This card is handed out by the museumvereniging (The Netherlands Museums Association). It is bought by people who live in the Netherlands. The other card the Iamsterdam card gives you about 1/2/3 days entrance to public transport and museums in amsterdam for 33/43/53 euros. This card is handed out by the tourist board of Amsterdam. This card is mainly bought by tourists.

The advantages for the user of these cards are clear. You pay a fee and you get access for a certain amount of time. There are no hidden costs and off course you minimize risk. If you think the Rijksmuseum sucks you hop out and move to the van Gogh museum. It sounds really good but on the revenue side of things i am not sure if it is all that good.

To participate in these two cards the museum has to sell their admission at a discount to the card distributors. The museums get paid (at the discounted rate) by the card distributors every time the cards pass the cashier. Selling your admission with a discount will cost revenue. But because of the risk free nature of the cards attendance will grow. So will the rise in attendance offset the the losses by selling at a discount? I think in certain cases it will but in some cases it will not. My hypothesis is that Tourist cards will give you more revenue but collaborative cards you sell to locals will cost you revenue.

Let me explain: local people who buy such a card are far better informed about what a museum has to offer then tourists. In the research I have done at the Tropenmuseum when the visitors were askes how they got the idea to visit an exhibition of the Tropenmuseum, about 40% said the heard it from friends and 35% said the read an article in a newspaper. And a lot of them are returning visitors so they know the museum by past experiences. These sources of information minimize the risk of visiting a museum and being disappointed about it. So when a local pays admission, he/she has less chance to be disillusioned. This being said a local would be more willing to pay full admission because he knows more or less what to expect.

The main sources of information of tourists are travel guides, internet, and the guide that comes with the museum pass. These are less reliable sources of information then friends, local newspapers and past experiences. The risk of getting into an unknown local museum is higher. A card like the Iamsterdamcard offsets that risk.

So if the Amsterdam museums would love to have more revenues on admissions. They should collaborative stop accepting the museumcard ‘museumkaart’ and keep accepting the touristcard ‘Iamsterdam card’.