Reciprocal visiting is where National Trusts and similar heritage organisations welcome the members of other societies to their sites and properties on the same basis as their own members.
Some INTO members already offer free or reduced-price entry to their properties upon production of a valid membership card from another National Trust. Others, particularly if they do not have properties open to the public or members themselves, offer other services. Like reduced-price heritage walks or assistance with travel plans.
As part of our Family strategy, we have been looking at ways of strengthening and deepening the ties between Trusts. Ways to connect people around the world with a shared love of heritage. So, we worked with our members to develop this INTO-managed reciprocal visiting programme to replace the ad-hoc arrangements currently in place. This will not only strengthen the idea of a global heritage collective. It will also provide a structure and means to simplify and standardise the reciprocal visiting offer.
About twenty INTO members have signed up already, which is great news. This week I have been following up with others who might not quite be ready or who are unsure of the benefits.
For some Trusts, including the INTO logo on the membership card will harder than for others. But INTO members are developing creative solutions to this challenge.
Some properties are worried that they will be overrun by visitors from other Trusts. This is a genuine concern, but we believe that overall the programme should be equitable. Smaller organisations may have fewer properties to offer. But larger ones have more members who can benefit from reciprocal visiting. And all participating organisations benefit from the potential for secondary spending on parking, goods and services.
We’ve very excited about this new approach to Reciprocal Visiting! We plan to launch in January 2021 although there is still much preparation to do in the next few months. And it all may be impacted by the COVID-19 virus which is affecting all of our INTO members and their work. However, if you want to involve your organisation and you meet our MOU criteria, do please get in touch!