News & Views

Museum Hack's Nick Gray on Customer Experience

by Contagious Team

Nick Gray is the CEO of Museum Hack, a company designed around radically reinventing a deeply familiar experience: the trip to the museum.

Nick will be speaking at Now / Next / Why New York on 6 May on a very interesting topic: thinking like a museum. Or, in this case, a museum hacker. Joining Gray in the Think Like a Museum section is Maritza Yoes, who Contagious previously featured for her work bringing the Los Angeles Contemporary Museum of Art onto Snapchat. For more information and tickets, go to

One exciting element of Museum Hack's business is its customer service training, which takes employees of companies big and small and teaches them Museum Hack's approach to amplifying experience. We reached Gray in Switzerland to ask him about this part of his work. 


How did you guys get into the associate training aspect of the business?

Our customers asked us to. They loved the way that we engage inside the Museum in a very non-traditional way that is both entertaining and educational, and want to bring some of that energy into their business environment. 

The first large corporate client we worked with was a brand new luxury hotel in Times Square that was in a famous heritage building. They were slated to open in February and wanted training to help their front-of-house staff tell a unique story about the building's history. Museum Hack lead storytelling workshops for their concierges, bellhops, waiters, front desk staff, and restaurant employees to give them the tools to make the customer experience particularly special. We did tons of research, pulled out juicy stories, and helped the employees practice ways to talk about then with passion. This has really resonated with the guests.

How do you think brands have been approaching associate-customer experience up to now? How is that akin to how museums have evolved?

Tough question. I'm not sure just yet. There are some great brand experiences and some really poor brand experiences when it comes to the live, in-person meeting.

In the museum field, we've seen a shift from an object-centered to a visitor-centered approach. It's easy to focus entirely on the stuff, the facts and the concrete things that make up the institution, and neglect the experience of actually being there. But so much of our world now values and relies on engaging each other, on telling their story, on an emotional, kinetic level, to stand out.

For brands and businesses, it is easy to feel like you know yourself – you know the company, and have already decided what you think or feel about your employees. Getting 'hacked' gives the client a chance to see themselves represented through new language, new points of view, new experiences and for a new audience. It provides an outside-in perspective, sparks new creativity around your business and is also really fun.

What are the universal aspects of the guide experience that you seek to convey to client groups?

For us it's three things: The guide, the games, and the gossip.

The guide means you've got a happy, passionate, sharp human who is well-liked and emotionally invested in the story.

The games are the 'tricks' to keep attention and focus high. In the museum, we pass out candy, we move fast, we do photo challenges – anything to keep the pace for an audience that needs stimulus to stay engaged.

Finally, my favourite part – the gossip. These are the juice bits, the back-story, the exciting elements about history or invention that customers will remember and tell their friends about. Certain audiences have to be entertained before they can be educated and that's important to keep in mind when you have specific learning or marketing objectives.

Join Contagious at Now / Next / Why 2015. Limited tickets available; book now:


CHICAGO / 19 MAY  (in partnership with SOCIALDEVIANT)

SAN FRANCISCO / 9 JUNE (in partnership with BSSP)

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