Operation Management In British Museum And London Zoo Tourism Essay

2811 words (11 pages) Essay

1st Jan 1970 Tourism Reference this


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British Museum is one of the largest and most comprehensive museums in the world which was found in 1753 in London. The collections exhibited there were collected all over the world from the origins of human being to present day. By visiting those fantastic objects, people will experience a historical and cultural journey. As the mission cited below from the museum website, British Museum is more than a non-profit making institution, it is a great treasure belongs to all mankind.

The Aim of the British Museum (“the Museum”) is to hold for the benefit and education of humanity a collection representative of world cultures (“the Collection”), and ensure that the Collection is housed in safety, conserved, curated, researched and exhibited1.

——-British Museum Governance Policies and Principles

London Zoo is also a famous attraction in London opened to public since 1828 which is two years after since The Zoological Society of London has been found. Over 720 different species of animal exhibited here, it is a place not just for visiting, it is a playground in which you can interact with animals and get better known of their living.

The main purpose of this essay is to find out the similarity and difference of operation methods between two organizations. Therefore, the operation procedure of British Museum will be illustrated at first, which will be generally indentified through several aspects, such as layout and 4Vs. Afterwards, the necessary comparison and contrast will be analysed between British Museum and the given case London Zoo. And some recommendations will be given in the end.

Facilities of British Museum

In order to study the operation system in British Museum, the facilities used in the Museum will be illustrated in the following. Furthermore, the analysis will be taken specifically and try to find out the deficiency it needs to improve.

2.1 Operations management in not-for-profit organization

As the obligation mentioned in introduction, British Museum is a trust funding organization which is free to the public, so generally speaking it is a non-profit making organization. However, the Museum makes the profit in some certain ways, such as recruiting the members and selling the souvenirs in the shop. To make it simple and clear, in the following research, British Museum will only be considered as an organization which only provides service to satisfy people by creating a good atmosphere and to promote its reputation all over the world.

Layout and flow style

With 8 million objects housed in British Museum, the layout would be a little complex. After several expansions over the centuries, it went through the changes from a normal mansion in the past to today’s 75,000 m2 scale, which equals to nine football pitches.

British Museum has three floors, which are lower floor, ground floor and upper floor. For my observation, the main visiting area is ground and upper floors.

Ground floor

Ground floor has four levels from level-1 to level 2. (see figure1)

When entering the building from the main entrance, two small desks stand beside the passageway which only offers the free maps. Except for the securities, no staff can be found there. After gathering the map, I walk into the great court, and a large information desk at the right side of court, some staffs are working there for any requires. In addition, there is a special service provided here which is a multimedia guide (audio descriptions) can provide eleven different languages, by doing this the cost of staff is much reduced and the quality of service is increased.

At this level ( level 0), there is a reading room opened for special exhibitions in the centre of great court and several shops and cafes opened in the corner of great court. And other facilities such as toilets for man, woman, disabled and a baby changing room are on the two sides of great court.

Around the great court, more than thirty galleries are opened to the public on the three sides of the ground floor. On level -1,1,2, there are also some galleries opened. And both lifts and stairs are available between different levels. Visitors can choose any sequence of visit, clockwise, counter clockwise or random.

Figure 1

Lower floor

On this floor, there is less worth to visit on this floor, which only contains three galleries and two educational centres organized by enterprises ( see figure 2). Very few visitors reach this floor.

Figure 2

Upper floor

The galleries on this floor were arranged on the four sides of court (see figure 3). And the amount of rooms are more or less the same as ground floor, which include five themes, Ancient Egypt on the north side of level 3, Ancient Greece and Rome on the west side, Japan culture on the north side of level 5, Europe on the south side and Middle East on the right side.

Figure 3

Furthermore, as more and more precious objects will exhibit in the museum, the display is very important for the operation management in British Museum. They even formed a policy of display to process the layout and flow aimed to ensure all kinds of demand from customers and to make them satisfied.

Transformation process model

Input to the process

In the operation process, there are two sets of inputs, one is transformed resources which are always transmuted, and the other set is transforming resources which made transformed resources (Slack el al., 2004). Applied to the operation of British Museum, transformed resource will be the customers, and transforming resource is the staff, also includes all the collections.

To improve the operation performance, the museum needs to explore new collections, but more importantly, it should train the staff to enhance their professional skills in two ways, the exhibitions maintenance and customers service.

Within the process

In the process, Slack el al. (2004) point out that different inputs transformed can be determining different types of process. Here the types of process will be divided into three categories; respectively they are materials process which is to transform the physical products, information processing which concerned with informational properties and customer processing which means customers are considered as major input throughout the whole process.

As the above clarification, it is obvious that the British Museum belongs to customer processing, because at the beginning of transformation, each customer is fresh without any experience to the museum, but when tour ends, the physiological state of customers are equipped with basic knowledge and feeling about what they visited.

Outputs from the process

After studying the operation process, it is can be found that very few organizations produced pure product or service, in most of cases, services and products are merging together to enhance their competition in the market.

Generally speaking, the output of British Museum is service, which is intangible and hard to qualify. Some organizations adopted the customer feedback mechanism to qualify the fulfilment of customer’s need. This kind of processing requires a high qualification to satisfied customers’ psychology needs.

Characterizes of process : 4Vs

2.4.1 Analysis of 4Vs between London Zoo and British Museum

After identifying the outputs and inputs of British Museum, the volume, variety, variation and visibility should be analysed. Firstly, as the biggest national tourist attraction in UK, both British Museum and London Zoo have a high volume of visiting. In 2009/2010, 5.7 million people visited the British Museum. And in busy days, the visitors of London reached 4000 to 6000 per day in average. Next, the variety of service in London Zoo and British Museum is relatively high. Although a large amount of exhibitions provided by the two organizations, visitors can choose the touring routines according to their needs and preference. There is no fixed routine. Thirdly, the variation of demand in British Museum is low due to it just experiences a small fluctuation in summer holiday compared with normal days. Conversely, customers demand of London zoo on weekends and special events will spur to 18000 per day while on Christmas Eve only 48 visitors there, so the variation of London Zoo is relatively high. Finally, visibility means customer contact which made by organizations. As the case shown that London zoo has high visibility, in such circumstance, they realise the importance to improve service and to meet customers need. Similarly, British museum usually arrange the short period tours and try to benefit visitor to fulfil their need. However, the contact between staff and visitor is not frequent here.

Table 1.






London Zoo



Relatively High


British Museum





2.4.2 The implication of 4Vs of operations

Compared with the ideal dimensions in the four aspects, high volume, low variety, low variation in demand, and low visibility, the operation process of British Museum seems closed to the ideal model and cost less in its operation management. However, the high variation of customers demand requires London Zoo to explore what customers really want from them. And it is the point for London Zoo to keep a sustainable increase.

Pros and Cons of operation process in British Museum

3.1 Pros

3.1.1 Specify and categorize customer demand: Explore¬†the Museum’s highlights

As a huge amount of collections exhibited in the museum, for most visitors, it is impossible to visit all the galleries in such a short period. To give the visitors a worthy visit, the museum selected a few of most valuable objects and created several options according to different length of tour. This is providing an opportunity for visitors to explore the highlight exhibitions, then visitors can plan their own trip by those suggested routine. Thus, the satisfaction of visitors can be largely improved. Meanwhile, it can also avoid the crowd in peak season and shorten the operation process.

The routine suggested currently as below (Visitors can find the information at information desk)

1 hour at the Museum

3 hours at the Museum

Objects to see with children

A history of the world in 100 objects

As the four selected routines designed by British Museum, on one hand visitors will tour the museum with the purpose, the time of visiting is much saved and it also make this touring much clear and effective. On the other hand, it makes the process flow fluent and efficient.

3.2 Cons

3.2.1 Complex layout for the large galleries

Generally, the collections are categorized in related to the nature and history of objects. So in British Museum, the main permanent galleries are Ancient Egypt, Ancient Greece and Rome, Europe, Asia and Middle East, Africa and America. And some large galleries contain two levels. The situation is when you wanted to visit the galleries completely, you have to go upstairs. If you pass through the way-out upstairs, your routine of the whole visiting will be disturbed. Otherwise, you have to go downstairs go on the visit to other galleries. Additionally, for such a layout, visitors are easily getting confused and lost directions, because there is no any sign of direction. During the visiting, I found the division between different themes was not so clear, especially for those big galleries which contain two levels.

3.2.2 Less space on the hot spot area

Another layout problem is that it was a little bit crowed in the popular galleries such as the gallery of ancient Egypt. For my observation on that day, so many people were interested in Egypt Mummy and stopped to take photographs or pay a notice on particular object. In such way, it made the gallery too crowded to visit, and visitors must feel unsatisfied at this moment.

Comparison and contrast between British Museum and London Zoo

4.1 General introduction of case London Zoo

London zoo is one of the most popular animal collections in the world which opened in 1828; the aim of it is to house and display live animals and makes profit. In the past few decades, visitor attendance keeps high although there is a fluctuation because of zoo’s reconstruction and some other public reasons. But by the mid-1950s the visitor numbers began to decline from 2 million year by year, and by 1995/96, the budgeted level was just nine hundred thousand. The main reason is from social-economic changes including changing of living habits, growth in car ownership, leisure preferences and inflation as well as fierce competition. Due to the decrease in visitor attendance and lack of investment in zoo’s developments or its image, urgent action needs to be taken to change the situation. With the support of zoo’s staff, a new development plan was published and adopted in 1992 in order to improve the facilities and the service quality. Relevant surveys also need to be made in advance.

Profit and not-profit

The British Museum can be regarded as a non-profit organization sponsored by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, but it also has self-generated income through retail, international touring exhibitions, Membership, and fundraising programmes. By contract, London Zoo mainly relies on the financial profit to keep running its daily operation and maintenance and also partly relies on the public fund. To some extent, British Museum is trying to achieving a high reputation worldwide by create the most comfortable environment to visitors, however, London Zoo aims to enhance the quality of service to attract more visitors and increase the income.

Defined the targeted visitors

Both British Museum and London Zoo understand the importance to define their target visitors. Generally, the target customers of British Museum are tourist including individuals, couples and families, some specific researchers as well. After define the customer and their need, the museum provides selected touring options to normal visitors, which is a convenient service to visitors. Same as London Zoo, after specified the visitors, it is important to improve their service by knowing what their particular needs. By categories the visitors and figure out the characters of each group, organization will be easy to improve the service to meet their exact need.

Quality of service

As my observation of British Museum, it is hard to feel the existence of service even they provide the short free tour occasionally. Except for the information desk, you can hardly find any staff for help. Compared to British Museum, London Zoo also suffers from quality problem, due to capacity problem. London Zoo operated badly during peak periods because of lack of staff. As a result, the column ‘contact with staff’ received the lowest score in the investigation. Long queues, delays, lack of contact lead to problems in quality in London Zoo

Conclusion & recommendation

As the study above, although both British museum and London zoo belong to service organizations, the commercial purposes are different. However, they aim to provide the best service to achieve the success in their own business area.

As the big national organizations, even though both London Zoo and British Museum are fully equipped in facilities, there are still some operation problems in service quality and process of layout. For British Museum, in terms of layout, they may provide the visitors more comfortable environment by expanding the space in the hot spot galleries; in the large galleries, the museum can display the collections all in the same level to avoid making visitors confused or lost. While in terms of service, I suggest that the staff may contact with visitors face to face more. For London Zoo, the capacity should be improved through recruiting the temporary staff during peak season. As the survey adopted in the case study, they have to create more contact with visitors and supply more qualified catering to increase the performance.

No matter how big the organization scale is, it still has its strength and weakness. The obligation of management team is keeping optimize the operation process and continuously making profit and get a great reputation in the business area.

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