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The new normal: customer expectations for zoos and attractions

Hit heavily by COVID-related lockdowns and restrictions, zoos and attractions will be keen to make 2022 the year they bounce back. Consumers have changed, however, and their expectations– in some quarters at least – are very different to those of two years ago.  So what’s driving industry change and what can the industry do about it? We’ve rounded up some of the key talking points that will affect how zoos, theme parks and other attractions will need to market themselves for future success. 

The power of personalisation

Not a new concept to anyone familiar with marketing but an area in which many marketers will confess to underachieving. With renewed vigour within the industry to capture share of wallet, the competition will have stepped up considerably, so if you’re not on top of personalisation, you’ll need to be…

Segmenting your audience effectively makes personalisation much simpler but ensuring all your data is available to make informed segmentation calls is absolutely vital. Siloed data will make it near-impossible to segment audiences in a cohesive way. A Customer Data Platform (CDP) allows you to view all customer data you hold at a glance and can automate the segmentation process, allowing you to focus on compelling personalisation that will resonate with each segment. 

Zoos CDP


For example, on-the-day refreshment offers based on previous customer preferences and purchasing behaviour can help to drive additional revenue beyond ticket sales. 

Partnering with relevant complementary brands can also be an effective route to additional revenue, either via affiliate schemes or in terms of time spent (and therefore cash spent) at your venue. A good example would be a partnership with accommodation nearby, allowing your customers less travel time and more time on-site. In Oracle research, 2 out of 3 respondents from Gen X and Millennial audiences said if they received a personalised offer for nearby hotels, restaurants, or bars, they would be likely to check them out.

Planning ahead

As marketers we appreciate the benefits of planning ahead, but thinking of planning from a customer behaviour perspective is equally important.

Ticket sales represent the obvious revenue stream for attractions but additional revenue streams such as F&B and VIP experiences shouldn’t be forgotten. Locking those revenues in at the ticket purchase stage is a vastly easier sell than attempting to convert customers while on-site so give your consumers the opportunity to purchase extras upfront via your ticket shop. 

Planning is particularly for families with young children who are, it’s fair to say, averse to queueing. In research by Oracle, 55% of parents with children under 12 said that it would be great to be able to schedule food or drinks before they arrive. Allowing young families – and indeed the rest of your customers – to purchase food and drink in advance or skip queues – as Legoland does so effectively with its Reserve & Ride scheme – delivers a vastly less stressful experience for adults and children alike. 

Managing demand

The COVID-19 pandemic has made many of us more wary of crowds and has reinforced the anxiety many of us already experienced in crowded areas. Crowd management is also a concern for venue operators themselves as they strive to deliver a safe, enjoyable experience for their customers. In fact, 67% of respondents to an Oracle survey said that they would still like social distancing measures in some form at venues.

Giving live, minute-by-minute updates on areas of your venue that are particularly busy helps customers avoid stress and allows you to manage facilities and staff more effectively.

Conversational channels where you already interact with your consumers are the perfect vehicle to get that information out to customers already at your venue. 

Mobile payments

Seamless payments not only make revenue generation faster, it also helps with the above, allowing customers to pay and move on quickly helps you to manage your venue hotspots more effectively. This is particularly relevant to food-serving parts of your revenue and other additional revenue generators such as ride photography, for example. 

In addition, it’s a massive benefit to consumers, who can avoid queues and pay for items with upfront before pickup, reducing queueing time, increasing the likelihood of conversion, and meaning they can move to other, potentially revenue-generating, areas of your site. 

Enhancing experiences 

Venue-specific content can make a huge difference to your visitors’ day and are often much easier to update than static exhibitions, rides, or other attractions, keeping your venue fresh for frequent visitors. 

Things like QR codes for additional content and information, or SMS messages that inform your customers of things like animal feeding times all help to add an additional layer of enjoyment to their visits. 

Real-time responses

If your customers have questions while they’re at your venue, responding to them in real-time is crucial. Creating a WhatsApp chatbot, for example, can allow them to get the information that they need quickly and effectively without seeking out a customer service representative. That saves your team time and lets your customers get on with enjoying their day. Chatbots can be configured to automatically escalate queries to a human representative when they pass a certain level of complexity or are of a specific nature. 

Don’t forget the data

Once you’ve put all of these labour-saving customer enhancements in place, you’ll want to give your visitors the opportunity to tell you how well you’ve done (or not as the case may be). Allowing them to quickly fill in a customer survey allows them to react to their experience while it’s fresh in their mind and allows you to maximise data gathering and figure out how you can improve the experience for your customers even further. This is also a great opportunity to secure future revenue by offering discounts on their next visit or in the case of zoos specifically, offering the opportunity to adopt an animal they may have just had the opportunity to see.

In any case, as a data collection tool, a survey presented in an engaging, easy-to-use form, such as via SMS Pages, is invaluable to your business. 

Learn more about how CM.com can help you grow your business and improve customer experience.

Speak to an expert Ticketing

Learn more about how CM.com can help you grow your business and improve customer experience.

Speak to an expert Ticketing
Emma Brash
Emma Brash,
Marketing Campaigns Manager

Emma is the Marketing Campaigns Manager focusing on marketing software and ticketing for the UK&I. She is passionate about enabling marketers to do more with the right tools and help organisations provide an outstanding customer experience on the correct channels.

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