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Cincinnati Zoo: Driving bottom line results with analytics
Driving bottom line growth through analytics
How the Cincinnati Zoo achieved a
400% ROI in less than one year
Zoos serve a critical mission: to protect and
preserve wildlife, offering visitors the opportunity to
see and learn about animals up close.
But how do you keep visitors coming back, year after
year? And continually find new ways to grow
Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden is a Top 10 Zagat-rated
zoo drawing more than 1.3 million visitors
The Zoo wanted deeper insights into operations so it
could continue to innovate and drive more business.
That meant finding ways to:
• Improve attendance
• Boost sales of food and
• Staff the park more efficiently
“...we found IBM not only had a
solution that fit our budget, it
was also the deepest and most
capable solution for what we
were looking to do, and was
scalable to adapt to our
–Director of Operations, Cincinnati
Business analytics from IBM helps the zoo
understand visitors’ behaviors.
• How many people walk through the gates each day?
• Eat at concessions?
• Purchase zoo merchandise?
• Buy tickets to the penguin show or other attractions?
A loyalty card promotion allows the Zoo to collect
this information each time a visitor scans their
membership card or visitor badge.
Using self-service analytics tools, the Zoo combined
weather and demographic data, making it easy to see
trends and answer questions about guests and operations.
Reports, charts and dashboards helped zoo staff project
what would happen if an attraction opened closer to lunch
time. How many more people will stop by? And what does
this mean in terms of food demands?
The Zoo even compared members and non members. What
are they buying or not buying…do they come on rainy or
sunny days…and what effect does the weather have on
visitors depending on where they live?
With greater insight into each visitor’s movements
and spending patterns, the Zoo could optimize
operations and provide a more personalized
It could see, for example, that the Jones family lives 12
miles from the Zoo, visits monthly on Saturdays for four
hours, and stops at the giraffe house after lunch.
Each time the family’s loyalty card is scanned, the zoo
collects information that provides insight into venue
frequency and the Jones’ favorite places to visit.
Based on these insights, it can send discount offers for
attractions and the café directly to the family’s
For example, a location-aware trigger on the card
sends a 20% off coupon for the gift shop to the
The store associate
then uses product
availability and insight
into the family’s
preferences to mention
the stuffed giraffes.
Staff also track visitor activity to determine which venues
and food stands to open. If the temperature is 80 degrees
by 9 a.m., employees use analytics on their mobile
devices to open more water stations.
Reports and dashboards helped the Zoo see a spike in ice
cream sales during the last hour of the day.
Now it keeps some ice cream kiosks open until closing
time, keeping visitors satisfied and earning more revenue
for the park.
Without analytics, the ice cream stalls would be
closed, and a revenue opportunity would be lost
For Cincinnati Zoo, listening to customers and
acting on insights found through analytics really
saved per year
New visits due to
by loyalty card
Increase in ice
cream sales per
Are you ready to take the next step?
Discover how IBM Business
Analytics midmarket solutions can
help you think big, but start small.
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