Media & EntertainmentLet’s build a smarter planet
Like all open-air attractions, zoos live and die by the weather. When
su...
Media & EntertainmentLet’s build a smarter planet
“BrightStar really opened our eyes to the possibilities,” says Powell.
“...
Media & EntertainmentLet’s build a smarter planet
“For the first time, analytics gives us the ability to understand
these ...
Media & EntertainmentLet’s build a smarter planet
New insight into ticket sales
Sales and marketing at PDZA are gaining as...
Media & EntertainmentLet’s build a smarter planet
Intuitive interface
PDZA has recently upgraded to the latest version of ...
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Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium optimizes operational efficiency and enhances the customer experience

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Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium optimizes operational efficiency and enhances the customer experience.

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Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium optimizes operational efficiency and enhances the customer experience

  1. 1. Media & EntertainmentLet’s build a smarter planet Like all open-air attractions, zoos live and die by the weather. When sunny days alternate with rainy ones and daily attendance can fluctuate wildly, how can zoos avoid the dangers of over- or under-staffing – and the potentially serious consequences for cost-efficiency and customer service? Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium (PDZA) – part of Point Defiance Park, the largest attraction in Pierce County, Washington – wanted to counteract the uncertainties of the weather by gaining a better understanding of its effects on ticket sales and visitor numbers. With this new insight, the Zoo hoped to be able to manage all aspects of its business more efficiently. The first step on this journey was to find a way to unlock the value of the data that PDZA already possessed. In partnership with IBM and BrightStar Partners, the Zoo embarked on an analytics initiative that now promises to transform its entire operation, from sales and marketing to staffing and facilities management. At the starting point Donna Powell, Business & Administrative Services Manager for the Zoological & Environmental Education Division of Metro Parks Tacoma, which owns PDZA, explains: “We already had a very robust point-of-sale [POS] system in place, which was managing most of the data we needed to assess key metrics on ticket sales and attendance. However, without the tools to extract that data, analyze it and present it to our business users in a form that was easy to understand, its value was limited.” Powell’s team met with BrightStar Partners, an IBM Business Partner with extensive experience of helping organizations in the leisure industry develop innovative business analytics solutions. In particular, BrightStar’s groundbreaking work at Cincinnati Zoo inspired PDZA to create a new analytics landscape. Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium Making the right decisions – whatever the weather Smart is... Combining ticket sales and visitor data with real-time weather forecasts to optimize operational efficiency and enhance the customer experience. What if your business needed to serve ten times as many customers tomorrow as it did today? Would you be able to adjust quickly enough to meet their needs? And what if the fluctuation in demand was caused by something as arbitrary and changeable as the weather? For an organization like Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium (PDZA), these questions aren’t a joke: they are issues that need addressing on a daily basis. Working with BrightStar Partners, an Avnet Services company, and IBM, the PDZA team has developed a new analytics solution that combines real- time weather data with ticket sales and attendance information to help forecast visitor numbers much more accurately than ever before.
  2. 2. Media & EntertainmentLet’s build a smarter planet “BrightStar really opened our eyes to the possibilities,” says Powell. “We realized that analytics could do more than just give us the answers to our immediate questions about ticket sales and attendance: it could potentially transform the way we managed almost every aspect of the Zoo’s operations.” Gaining executive buy-in for the project was straightforward: Powell’s expertise and knowledge, combined with BrightStar’s experience, made a strong business case for the creation of a new analytics platform, and the executive team was quickly convinced of its merits. Weather, attendance and labor planning BrightStar worked with PDZA to develop and deploy an IBM Business Analytics solution that unites data from the POS system with weather information from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) website. Web-based dashboards enable users within the Zoo to compare the current week’s weather forecasts and attendance figures with similar data from the previous five years. By bringing the data together in a single view, the solution makes it possible for Zoo staff to make crucial daily decisions based on hard evidence, rather than intuition and experience alone. “It’s impossible to overemphasize the effect that weather has on our business,” explains Donna Powell. “For people who don’t work in our industry, the impact is almost shocking. To take a recent example: during the Spring Break week, we had a beautiful sunny day on the Wednesday and nearly 5,000 visitors came to the Zoo, which is a record for that time of year. On the Thursday it rained, and we only had around 1,200 visitors – a difference of 289 percent in a single day! Business benefits • Predicts visitor numbers with much greater accuracy, guiding more effective labor planning and optimizing both customer service and operational efficiency. • Reveals new insights into sales: for example, the introduction of online ticketing has doubled daily ticket sales. • Delivers data on demand to marketing teams, enabling faster execution of promotions and campaigns. Smarter Entertainment Instrumented Data on every ticket sale – whether online or from POS systems at the Zoo’s box office – is collected and combined with turnstile information to provide an accurate picture of sales and attendance. Interconnected This data, combined with real-time weather information, is analyzed and made available to decision-makers in the form of interactive dashboards, which can be accessed via smartphone and tablet devices. Intelligent Combining current and historical weather and attendance data helps predict daily attendance levels and adjust labor plans to maximize customer service and minimize the risk of over-staffing.
  3. 3. Media & EntertainmentLet’s build a smarter planet “For the first time, analytics gives us the ability to understand these dramatic fluctuations and respond quickly enough to make a difference. 65 percent of our costs are payroll related – it’s our biggest variable cost. Most of our employees work flexible hours, so we can scale staffing levels up or down on a daily basis to meet the predicted level of demand. With our new analytics capabilities, we can make those predictions much more accurately, which means we can almost completely avoid the problems of over- or under-staffing.” In the near future, Powell envisions the possibility of intra-day adjustments: “If it’s going to rain in the morning and clear up in the afternoon, why have all our personnel on-site from 7 a.m. till 4 p.m.? We want to start looking at optimizing staffing levels within the day, so that we always have the right people in the right places at the right time to give our visitors the best possible experience while they’re at the Zoo.” A better understanding of when visitors arrive and what routes they take through the Zoo can also help PDZA to manage its animal collection more effectively. “If visitors are coming into the Zoo at 10 a.m., it’s likely to take them an hour or more before they reach some of the exhibits that are furthest from the entrance,” explains Powell. “So, for example, our Zoological Curator could schedule the enrichment times for the animals in those exhibits for 11 a.m., when most visitors will be in the right area. If we can align the times when the animals are most active with the times of peak attendance, we’ll be able to create a much richer experience for our visitors.” Going mobile To make sure key decision-makers have all the information they need at their fingertips, PDZA and BrightStar have made use of the IBM solution’s mobile capabilities. Users can access the latest reports and dashboards via their iPads, whether they are out in the grounds of the Zoo, or working off-site. “Recently our Visitor Services Supervisor went out of town, but he took his iPad with him,” says Powell. “He saw that the day’s attendance figures had been higher than expected, and that the weather for the following afternoon was going to be even better, and realized that we wouldn’t have enough staff. “He was able to get on the phone immediately, speak to his team, and put some plans in place to make sure our visitors wouldn’t have to wait in line for too long. It’s this ability to recognize problems quickly and respond rapidly that helps us to maintain a high level of customer service at all times.” Solution components Software • IBM® Cognos® Business Intelligence v10.2 IBM Business Partner • BrightStar Partners, an Avnet services company
  4. 4. Media & EntertainmentLet’s build a smarter planet New insight into ticket sales Sales and marketing at PDZA are gaining as much from the solution as the operations teams. One of the Zoo’s first analytics projects was to assess the importance of online sales. “We launched our online ticketing services in 2006 and since that time our sales grew annually, but nothing impressive,” says Powell. “In 2012 we started managing the membership program utilizing the same system as daily ticket sales, and saw that total revenue had increased dramatically – but there were different theories about what had actually happened. Some people thought that the increase was solely due to the income from memberships, but we were able to prove that in fact, we had more than doubled our ticket sales.” Surprisingly, the analysis also revealed new insights into visitors’ online purchasing habits: there was a significant peak in sales between 6 p.m. and 2 a.m. for next-day tickets. “Without an online ticketing system that is open for business 24/7, we would probably be missing out on most of these spur-of-the-moment purchases,” comments Powell. “So our analysis really vindicated the value of the online system. It also gave our marketing team new ideas about sending email promotions out to members towards the late afternoon and evening, to encourage more traffic to the site.” PDZA has also been able to analyze the relationship between ticket sales and other spending. Visitors who purchase tickets online tend to spend more on retail, gifts and food while they are at the Zoo than those who buy their tickets on the day – another reason for PDZA to focus its efforts on encouraging online sales. Email and social media marketing The creation of email marketing campaigns has also been dramatically simplified by the analytics solution. Instead of needing support from the IT team to extract membership information from the POS system and create a mailing list, the marketing team can obtain the data themselves with a few mouse-clicks. The solution also makes it quicker and easier to monitor the success of social media marketing: one recent promotion, where members were given discounts if they “checked in” to the Zoo on Facebook, saw nearly 1,000 people take up the offer. “We saw the results in our analytics solution the very next day,” says Powell. “Our work with IBM and BrightStar shows the potential of analytics technologies for public sector organizations to reduce costs and increase efficiencies, not only in our specific area, but across the whole of government.” — Donna Powell, Business & Administrative Services Manager - Zoological & Environmental Education Division, Metro Parks Tacoma
  5. 5. Media & EntertainmentLet’s build a smarter planet Intuitive interface PDZA has recently upgraded to the latest version of IBM® Cognos® Business Intelligence, which supports tabbed dashboards – a simple way to link different operational dashboards together and navigate quickly between them. “Our users really love the tabbed dashboards, because they can flick between different aspects of the business in seconds,” says Powell. “Whether you want to look at financial information, attendance, staffing, facilities or zoological information, it’s all at your fingertips. And from our perspective in the analytics team, tabbed dashboards make it easy to build reports that combine different visuals depending on what’s most important to the audience. For example, in our dashboard for online sales we use crosstabs that allow users to compare members with non-members and act as a springboard for further discussion.” Looking to the future A major next step for PDZA is the introduction of a mobile ticketing solution for its visitors, which can subsequently be extended to utilize the near-field communication (NFC) capabilities of modern smartphones. Visitors will be able to “tap” to check in at different areas within the Zoo – and analyzing this location information will give PDZA valuable insight into how visitors move around the site and where they spend most of their time. “We’re currently doing a feasibility study for a new aquarium, so if we can we can get a better understanding of how people interact with different attractions, we can feed it into the design process,” says Powell. “There’s also a lot of potential for optimizing our use of electricity: like most zoos, we’re very focused on environmental sustainability, so if we can adjust our heating, ventilation and air- conditioning systems to visitor patterns and weather conditions, we could potentially make big savings.” John Lucas, Director of Solution Delivery at BrightStar Partners, agrees: “Current research suggests that if you can analyze your peak energy usage accurately and manage it efficiently, you can save between eight and 14 percent on electricity costs. We’d be excited to explore the possibilities with PDZA.” Powell concludes: “As a mid-sized government organization, we’re focused on efficiency at all levels. In an economic climate where even basic services are under pressure, we need to play our part by maximizing revenues and reducing the strain on the public purse. Our work with IBM and BrightStar shows the potential of analytics technologies for public sector organizations to reduce costs and increase efficiencies, not only in our specific area, but across the whole of government.” “BrightStar really opened our eyes to the possibilities. We realized that analytics could do more than just give us the answers to our immediate questions about ticket sales and attendance: it could potentially transform the way we managed almost every aspect of the Zoo’s operations.” — Donna Powell, Business & Administrative Services Manager - Zoological & Environmental Education Division, Metro Parks Tacoma
  6. 6. YTC03604-USEN-00 Please Recycle © Copyright IBM Corporation 2013 IBM Corporation Software Group Route 100 Somers, NY 10589 Produced in the United States May 2013 IBM, the IBM logo, ibm.com and Cognos are trademarks of International Business Machines Corp., registered in many jurisdictions worldwide. Other product and service names might be trademarks of IBM or other companies. A current list of IBM trademarks is available on the web at “Copyright and trademark information” at ibm.com/legal/copytrade.shtml. IBM and BrightStar Partners are separate companies and each is responsible for its own products. Neither IBM nor BrightStar Partners makes any warranties, express or implied, concerning the other’s products. This document is current as of the initial date of publication and may be changed by IBM at any time. Not all offerings are available in every country in which IBM operates. The client examples cited are presented for illustrative purposes only. Actual performance results may vary depending on specific configurations and operating conditions. THE INFORMATION IN THIS DOCUMENT IS PROVIDED “AS IS” WITHOUT ANY WARRANTY, EXPRESS OR IMPLIED, INCLUDING WITHOUT ANY WARRANTIES OF MERCHANTABILITY, FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE AND ANY WARRANTY OR CONDITION OF NON-INFRINGEMENT. IBM products are warranted according to the terms and conditions of the agreements under which they are provided. About BrightStar Partners BrightStar Partners, an Avnet services company, is a technology-based, global IBM Business Analytics consulting and software development organization and IBM Premier Business Partner. BSP helps its clients improve their business performance through maximizing their investment in technology and processes to drive better information throughout the enterprise. With broad technical and business experience, BSP helps clients realize the benefits from their reporting, analysis, dashboarding, data warehousing, planning and consolidation solutions to drive true business value. For more information about BrightStar Partners, please visit www.brightstarpartners.com BRIGHTSTAR PARTNERS, INC. A PASSION TO INSPIRE. A DRIVE TO PERFORM. About IBM Business Analytics IBM Business Analytics software delivers data-driven insights that help organizations work smarter and outperform their peers. This comprehensive portfolio includes solutions for business intelligence, predictive analytics and decision management, performance management, and risk management. Business Analytics solutions enable companies to identify and visualize trends and patterns in areas, such as customer analytics, that can have a profound effect on business performance. They can compare scenarios, anticipate potential threats and opportunities, better plan, budget and forecast resources, balance risks against expected returns and work to meet regulatory requirements. By making analytics widely available, organizations can align tactical and strategic decision-making to achieve business goals. For more information For further information or to reach a representative please visit ibm.com/business-analytics.

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