Northumberland Zoo turns to technology to transform the customer experience

Maxine Bradley with a racoon.
Northumberland Zoo turns to technology to transform the customer experience
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Owners at Northumberland Zoo believe an innovative technology platform they have introduced will be a gamechanger for the sector – growing income while also educating.

The family-run zoo, sat in 17 acres, near Felton, Morpeth, has partnered with County Durham-based n-gage.io, to implement the company’s audience engagement platform and attraction management software, created to improve the visitor experience.

Maxine Bradley, founder and zoo curator, explained: “The zoo industry is all about making the right impact on visitors and shifting their behaviour, by encouraging a sense of conservation in people and generations to come.

“Ongoing research and measurement as to what visitors take away with them from a visit to their local zoo, safari park, or wildlife sanctuary, is critical.”

The zoo, which has more than 100 species of animals to see, has come a long way in a brief period, having gained its licence in June 2015. Bradley is anxious to keep building on the early success and make the customer experience even better while gathering important data.

Helping to deliver on this mandate, Northumberland Zoo has partnered with SaaS (software as a service) developers and audience engagement specialists, n-gage.io, who have launched an advanced audience engagement platform (AEP) and mobile app for the visitor attraction sector and wider experience economy. Led by entrepreneur Bryan Hoare and incubated by GCV Labs – n-gage.io aims to transform audience experiences through a highly customisable, data insight driven SaaS platform with an integrated mobile-web application.

For Maxine Bradley, the advent of the n-gage.io audience engagement app (AEP), is a radical advancement not just for her zoo, but for the entire sector. “Our duty is to continuously research, test and discover what knowledge people are taking away with them when they visit our establishments. With this technology, the more I work with the n-gage.io team, the more I begin to realise what we can use it for,” said Bradley.

“Dwell time is a big thing for this sector. If visitors have downloaded our app powered by the n-gage.io platform, then through dwell time monitoring, heat mapping and content triggering, we will instantly be able to see which displays are getting the most attention. Because of the enormous real time data gathering, we will then be in the position to send visitors specific questionnaires or surveys to elicit insights, as the platform can segment data and send personalised communication, which is also essential in building long-term relationships with our fans.”

Bradley believes that technology such as n-gage.io, will also assist her and the zoo/aquarium sector, in strategising the development of the zoo itself from the valuable data analysis the cloud-hosted platform can deliver.

Playing to the growing rewards and redemption culture for achievement, Bradley is excited about developing a range of off-line and online tools that can encourage ongoing interaction with her zoo.

In discussions with Bradley and Northumberland Zoo’s education officer, Sarah Nicholson, n-gage.io has also built-in an education portal to the platform to manage the task of school visits and the delivery of lessons, which will come standard with the fully customisable software package. This means each school has a dedicated area of the platform with secure logins to manage their respective activities and modules that have been pre-loaded, and which teachers can then access through their tablet or smartphone.

“No other zoo has this kind of technology,” said Bradley, who has been collaborating closely with the team at n-gage.io to enhance the platform. Most current apps in the sector are digital maps, which have bolted on a ticketing, wallet, or pre-order API. “None of them have the deep learning capability or enhanced interactive audience engagement functionality that n-gage.io offers. I believe this app will be a gamechanger for the industry.”

The n-gage.io software and app is helping the global attraction, leisure and entertainment industry to not only improve operations, but also to enhance audience engagement, gain valuable insights and help increase revenues. For visitors arriving at Northumberland Zoo there’s a host of reasons to pre-download the app. Tickets are automatically available, as well as exclusive in-app vouchers along with Interactive content and fun activities such as quizzes and shareable photo frames. Navigating the zoo is also made easier with interactive mapping and wayfinding.

For Bradley though, this move to digital paves the way for an always on, thoroughly engaged worldwide audience. Her aim is to fully integrate the audience engagement platform and app with other digital channels such as Tik-Tok (the zoo already has 165 000 followers), and YouTube, to continuously track and measure audience reaction and grow income, whilst educating.

Northumberland Zoo has launched the n-gage.io platform and audience experience app, with the  app now available on the iOS App Store and Google Play.

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