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  • Reciprocal Visiting (Weekly blog, 8 March 2020)

    Posted on March 8, 2020
    A blog by Catherine Leonard, Secretary-General

    What is Reciprocal Visiting?

    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.

    A global heritage collective

    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.

    Benefits of the new Reciprocal Visiting Programme

    • A uniform approach will enable everyone to promote the benefit more widely and would strengthen the INTO ‘Family’ offer.
    • This will help emphasise what is special about the National Trust approach and build the brand nationally and internationally.
    • We will do this by stressing to people that they may be joining a National Trust in Australia, Bermuda or Canada, but doors are opening for them in the USA, Yangon and Zimbabwe! By supporting your local INTO member, you are showing your appreciation of heritage across the globe.
    • In the fractured times we live in there is something quite powerful about an INTO family embracing and celebrating the cultures of all nations.
    • And having INTO manage the programme will make things much easier for participating Trusts. It will also enable us to promote this tangible benefit more effectively and jointly. And to tell more stories about our places and activities around the world.
    • The INTO logo will enable property attendants to easily identify who is eligible for free entry.

    Challenges to overcome

    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!

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