We’re fortunate to have many world-class attractions in the UK. Legoland Windsor was the most visited in 2018 with over 2 million visitors, followed by Alton Towers and Thorpe Park. Our museums are also popular; in the first three months of 2019, more than 11 million people visited DCMS-sponsored museums and galleries, an increase over the previous year.

In fact, eight out of the top ten attractions in the UK are museums. Here’s another interesting fact: No matter the shape or size of your destination, one way to keep visitors coming back is through the clever use of collectable pin badges! Here, we look at some creative and fun ways that you can incorporate pin badges into your marketing strategy to build loyalty and keep visitors engaged day after day.

What are collectable pin badges?

As with stamps, coins and comic books, collectable pin badges are sets of unique or themed pin badges that are released throughout the year so that people can collect them over time. We know from badge makers and collectors alike that these collections can start from a single badge and grow to an almost unlimited number of unique designs. Collectable badges come in all shapes, sizes, styles and prices. Some also come with special backing cards to commemorate events or showcase campaigns, including social media hashtags and marketing messages. 

Wondering who might be interested in collectable badges? For starters, everyone who visits your attraction could get into collecting and, if you sell your pin badges online, this could also extend to a larger, global network of fans and patrons. There’s also an entire community of pin badge collectors out there. A quick search will bring up groups and resources like the British Badge Collectors Association, the Badge Collectors Circle,  UK Disney Pin Traders and collections for sale on sites like Etsy.

Stuck for design ideas for your collection? Seek inspiration from other galleries and institutions or look to creative retailers like the Design Museum Shop, which offers a selection of items related to architecture, graphic design and fashion. They collaborate on “exhibitions” like this Computer Malfunction enamel pin badge, part of its exclusive Stanley Kubrick collection.

museum badges

How to Engage Visitors with Collectable Badges

Sell Badges in Store (and Leverage that “Exclusivity Factor”)

A clever display of collectable pin badges will be an eye-catching addition to any retail location, be it a museum gift shop or a theme park souvenir stand. At a minimum, we suggest that you sell your collectable badges in as many retail locations as possible. However, you don’t have to offer all badges all the time. Plan to offer a few limited-edition pin badges throughout the year to promote seasonal events or special exhibitions. This exclusivity factor can help drive sales – after all, scarcity produces greater demand and a higher perceived value of something. Limited-edition pin badges will help draw visitors in with a lovely collectable treasure to commemorate their visit.

Take, for example, these collectable Rosie the Riveter pin badges from the British Museum featuring the World War II icon. The badges were sold online and at the museum to accompany an exhibition that ran September 2018 to January 2019; the badges are now out of stock. 

Rosie Riveter Pin

Have a Competition

Another creative strategy is to offer collectable pin badges as part of an occasional sweepstakes or competition for your attraction. There are numerous ways to use badges as part of an engaging game or activity. Here’s just a few examples: 

  • Release a limited-edition pin on your social media channels before it’s available online or in your store. Use a hashtag with your post and offer your followers a chance to win a badge by being one of the first 25 people to add a comment that includes the campaign hashtag.
  • Create a new pin badge to celebrate the launch of an exciting new theme park ride and host a contest on Instagram to give away a badge to the first 100 followers who like the post. To make it a bit more exciting, why not add an offline component – like everyone who wins a badge also gets one special pass to go to the front of the line on the new ride?
  • Or maybe you’re launching a new exhibition at your museum and you’d like to design a set of pin badges around the exhibit. In addition to selling the badges at your gift shop, you could connect the contest to ticket sales and offer the first 100 people who purchase exhibition tickets a free set of the badges. 

Host a Special Swapathon

As we mentioned above, there’s an entire community of pin badge collectors out there. Consider hosting a “swapathon” event at your venue, where fans can come together to meet other collectors and trade pins. It’s a unique way to engage a larger community, get new visitors inside your doors and share in a memorable experience together. SEA LIFE Scarborough Aquarium, for example, hosted a free Pop Badge Swap event with the cost of admission and posted swap information and rules on Facebook, like a maximum of 10 swaps per person per event.

We hope this post gives you some ideas on how to use collectable pin badges to get visitors in the door and keep them coming back. After all, our attractions large and small are important places that help promote tourism, culture and a sense of community. Badges are just one small way to keep visitors engaged. Beyond that, you might even launch a lifelong hobby for your most enthusiastic patrons! 


What other creative activities have you seen at museums, parks and other destinations? We’d love to hear about it and talk about all the ways that custom merchandise can benefit your tourist destination.