“We’re reshaping the future.” That’s the sentiment from our recent webinar with the AZA, featuring discussions with Isabella Linares of Oakland Zoo, Sam Hawk of Columbus Zoo and Aquarium, and Shawn Whitman of Zoo Atlanta. They shared their insights, strategies, and the transformative impact of AI and technology on the guest experience and future planning.
Here’s a detailed look at some of the key highlights.
Emerging Challenges: Pandemic Response and Adaptation
Zoos and aquariums have faced unprecedented challenges in recent years, requiring adaptability and innovation. One significant transformation has been how AI and technology are implemented to enhance their customer interactions.
At Oakland Zoo, Isabella Linares highlighted how they are refining their marketing approach. Rather than overloading social media with advertising, they leveraged the AI Chat to communicate important campaigns and discounts, including a unique campaign against illegal wildlife trade. Isabella shared how this allowed guests to feel more engaged without feeling overwhelmed, stating, “They don’t feel overwhelmed by it. They’re just pressing the buttons themselves, so they feel like they have a choice in being advertised to, in a way. So that’s been helpful for us.”
At Columbus Zoo and Aquarium, Sam Hawk tackled the need for language accessibility. He appreciated the AI Chat’s multilingual feature, particularly in Spanish, to cater to Columbus’ growing Hispanic community. Sam emphasized, “[All of our customers are] using the AI Chat to find what they need because it has that Spanish offering, which is something I think is incredibly beautiful.”
Shared Strategies: Integrating AI and Human Touch
Despite their distinctive settings, these industry leaders found common ground in their challenges and the need for AI and human touch integration.
Shawn Whitman of Zoo Atlanta discussed the complexity of navigating their visually rich website and how Satisfi Labs’ AI Chat provided an around-the-clock solution. He illustrated how this made the navigation more user-friendly, even when human support was offline, explaining, “We find our chat feature to be really helpful in navigating our website. It’s there 24/7. We’re only open from 9 to 5, so it allows our customers to go in on their own time.”
Interesting Takeaways From Using AI Chat
- Goal-Oriented and Integration-Focused: Sam highlighted the impact of small details and how integrating tech tools aids in creating a seamless guest experience. He showcased the thoughtful planning involved with implementing new tech. His remarks that the AI Chat has been instrumental in simplifying ticket purchases and was indispensable during the Covid years underline its essential role in their operations.
- 24/7 Assistance and Cross-Marketing Opportunities: Shawn appreciated the round-the-clock availability of the AI Chat, helping visitors navigate the website faster. His interest in using the AI Chat for cross-marketing and tracking visitor interest in park initiatives revealed the technology’s potential to understand customer needs.
- Efficient Marketing and Enhanced Engagement: Isabella highlighted how the AI Chat has streamlined marketing campaigns for her small team and reduced the need for follow-up questions with customers. The observation that children are using the chat for school papers and that many users utilize the chat like a search bar provides a fascinating glimpse into the diverse ways AI is improving guest interactions.
These insights merely scratch the surface of what was a thought-provoking discussion. From handling a pandemic to reshaping guest experience and planning for the future, the webinar offers a rich exploration of AI Chat’s impact in zoos and aquariums.