Key Takeaways from AZA Annual Conference

posted in: Zoo management, Zoo Software | 0

I had the great opportunity to attend the AZA Conference in Seattle last month, where I attended workshops and talked to representatives from zoos and aquariums from around the world. I can’t begin to summarize everything I learned, but I did identify a few recurring themes:

  • Zoos and aquariums increasingly depend on technologies that streamline business processes and generate greater earned and contributed revenue. Simplifying business processes, including sharing data across the organization, reduces administrative time and provides greater visibility into visitor spending patterns.
  • The total financial value of a patron relationship—combining both earned and contributed revenue—is recognized as an important indicator and driver, especially at organizations that don’t charge admission. Just because someone isn’t a donor doesn’t mean they aren’t a valuable supporter. Identifying patrons and analyzing purchasing trends requires storing information about every purchase in a single constituent record.
  • More zoos and aquariums are crafting membership levels and benefits to meet their community’s unique needs and interests. Surveys are an important source of data about which benefits members value the most, and what benefits would make nonmembers more likely to convert. But, effective decisions aren’t based on feedback alone; financial and participation data from ticketing, events, tours, experiences, camps, classes and rentals are part of the equation as well.

Doubleknot once again sponsored the Educator’s Soiree, so Joe Garappolo and I were dispatched to the door to scan digital and print-at-home tickets and to sell walkup tickets to folks who didn’t register in advance. Luckily, Doubleknot’s Sales Station mobile app for iOS gracefully handled sales and checkin for about 200 people. Using our company’s tools for a real-life event was an eye-opening and rewarding experience!

Congratulations are due to the Woodland Park Zoo, the Seattle Aquarium and AZA as a whole for this year’s exceptional conference. Thank you all for the opportunity!

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