Powering Flexible In-House Ticketing with Mount Washington Cog Railway
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Moving sales online was a very important part of our COVID reopening strategy. With the Accesso Passport ticketing solution, we were able to establish our online ticketing storefront as our primary sales channel.”
The Audubon Nature Institute is a non-profit organization based in New Orleans, Louisiana that operates a family of ten museums and parks dedicated to celebrating the wonders of nature. Their venues include Audubon Zoo, Audubon Aquarium of the Americas, Audubon Louisiana Nature Center, Audubon Park and more.
In 2019, Audubon Nature Institute decided to implement accesso’s enterprise ticketing solutions (the accesso Siriusware point of sale ticketing solution and the industry-leading accesso Passport online ticketing platform) to help streamline the guest experience and increase revenue across their different venues. When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, they needed to find a way to reopen safely and recapture lost revenue.
“Protecting the safety of our animals, guests, staff and volunteers was our top priority,” said Daine Appleberry. “As a leader in our community, we wanted to go beyond local and state guidelines to become a trend-setter for safe experiences in our city.”
Shift Sales Online
Facilitate a Safe Experience
After careful preparation and discussion with community leaders, Audubon Nature Institute was able to reopen safely with a thorough plan for social distancing combined with the power of accesso ticketing solutions. They decided to start by opening the zoo, which would help them accommodate the greatest number of guests, and give them a way to implement and test reopening strategies before re-opening the aquarium.
On June 3, 2020, Audubon Zoo reopened with a 20% capacity (slightly lower than the 25% mandated by the local government), a guided one-way route through the attraction, and mandatory online ticket purchasing through the accesso Passport eCommerce platform, which provides a beautiful and intuitive shopping experience for guests, while helping attractions sell more tickets online.
- Daine Appleberry, Vice President of Guest Services
In order to enforce their capacity and limit the number of people at the Zoo at any given time, Audubon Nature Institute needed to set up more sophisticated ticketing operations than they had in the past, which was easy to do through an integration of the accesso Passport and accesso Siriusware solutions. “We designated tickets to 30-minute time slots and set up different allotments for members, general admission and comp tickets, and we also saved a small amount for walkups to accommodate those guests without access to the internet,” said Appleberry. “The Accesso team was there every step of the way to make sure everything was set for a successful go live.”
Using the accesso Passport eCommerce store, Audubon has been able to find opportunities to generate revenue, simply by asking guests for their support. “When a guest adds their tickets to the cart, a window pops up inviting guests to contribute to our Audubon Recovery Fund,” said Appleberry. “We’ve seen a huge, huge, huge impact and success with guests donating online thanks to the up-selling tools within Accesso Passport. If we hadn’t gone with that option, we would have left a lot of money on the table.”
In the following weeks, Appleberry’s team used the reporting tools within the accesso Siriusware enterprise point of sale platform to monitor ticket sales and redemption as well as sales across their retail and F&B locations. “The Accesso Siriusware system has helped us understand how our COVID reopening plan was working and where to make adjustments so that we could better serve our guests and grow,” he said.
For example, after they established their initial product mix (with different percentages allocated to each type of ticket), Appleberry was able to see about a 40% abandonment rate among their members per day at the aquarium, which they were able to re-allocate to general admission tickets. The strategy worked and did not end up upsetting any of members. “We didn’t receive any complaints,” he said. “I would advise anyone in admissions to really take a dive into your analytics to see what low-hanging fruit is available.”
Audubon Nature Institute continues to work closely with their accesso client support team to identify ways to adapt and grow during the pandemic. After the success of their donation initiative, they are beginning to explore other opportunities for driving revenue online, such as building out cross-sells within their eCommerce store.
One thing that’s certain, according to Appleberry, is that advance ticketing is here to stay. “Being able to shift our sales online with Accesso was necessary for reopening safely, but it also has huge benefits for planning our operations. Our admission team has been able to run reports for the last 3 months and create a pretty accurate forecast calendar thanks to the information in our Accesso ticketing system,” he said, pointing to scanned attendance, retail revenue and F&B revenue. “Because of this, we are able to better serve our guests by being prepared,” he added.
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