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Mixed pricing strategies in museums: Examining the potential of voluntary contributions for capturing consumer surplus

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  • Bart Neuts

    (Auckland University of Technology, New Zealand)

Abstract

Existing pricing strategies at museums rarely reflect actual market demand. This article compares willingness to pay with paid entrance fees to establish consumer surplus and investigates whether voluntary contributions can serve to capture part of this surplus. A donation box is tested under various design experiments to identify best-performing contribution mechanisms. The proposed method is tested at the New Zealand Maritime Museum, with data collected via an intercept visitor survey and through electronic donation box counters. While the results indicate the existence of a significant consumer surplus, practically none of this surplus was gathered via voluntary contributions, and under normal circumstances less than 1% of museum visitors offered a donation. An animated donation box increased donations to 2% but remained well below the percentage of visitors that claimed to have a positive consumer surplus. The findings conclude that pay-what-you-want principles seem to have limited potential in mixed pricing strategy environments.

Suggested Citation

  • Bart Neuts, 2020. "Mixed pricing strategies in museums: Examining the potential of voluntary contributions for capturing consumer surplus," Tourism Economics, , vol. 26(1), pages 115-136, February.
  • Handle: RePEc:sae:toueco:v:26:y:2020:i:1:p:115-136
    DOI: 10.1177/1354816619828223
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