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How IBM Manages Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium

IBM (NYSE: IBM) announced a collaboration with Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium (PDZA) to use IBM Big Data analytics to engage visitors with a more enriching zoo experience based on data generated from mobile devices and social channels.

Using IBM Big Data analytics, PDZA’s online ticket sales have grown more than 700 percent with online sales expected to increase by up to 25 percent by the end of this year, says IBM.

Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium, with just 80 full-time employees, is the only combined zoo and aquarium in the Pacific Northwest.

The 29-acre zoo, which promotes and practices wildlife and ecosystem conservation initiatives, is one of the top tourist destinations in Pierce County, Washington and attracts more than 600,000 visitors a year.

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On a daily basis, millions of data records are generated on visitor exhibit and special event preferences and participation in conservation initiatives.

Significant visitor feedback is also generated on social channels, such as Facebook, which reveal visitor likes and dislikes and other feedback on overall zoo operations. The zoo needed a lens to focus on the actionable insights that emerge from this massive amount of information.

Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium

Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium

In collaboration with IBM Business Partner BrightStar Partners, the zoo turned to IBM Big Data analytics to uncover the patterns and trends in its data to help drive ticket sales, enhance visitor experiences and increase visitor participation in raising awareness of wildlife conservation.

According to IBM, the creation of membership marketing campaigns has been simplified by IBM Big Data analytics. The membership team can obtain the data they need within minutes instead of waiting several days for the IT team to extract membership information from the POS system and create a mailing list.

In addition, the analytics capabilities make it easier to monitor the success of social media marketing. For example, zoo members who “checked in” to the zoo’s Facebook page were given a three dollar admission discount during a recent promotion.

Business insights garnered from Big Data analytics have helped to identify the patterns of when and what customers are purchasing on-line that has contributed to the zoo’s online sales program growing by more than 700 percent in the past two years, says IBM.

Zoo employees now use iPads to access the organization’s financial data securely as well as attendance, membership and retail information.

A major next step for the zoo is the introduction of a mobile ticketing solution, which can subsequently be extended to use the near-field communication (NFC) capabilities on smartphones.

Big Data analytics also aids in the zoo’s daily operations, such as analyzing weather data, to more effectively determine the right number of employees from staffing at the front gate to scheduling enrichment times for the animals.

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