It’s no secret that more revenue is always a good thing. Especially for family attractions sites, increasing revenue allows for job security, better infrastructure, improvements to the attractions themselves, and more of a cushion to weather years that may not be so favorable. Particularly when economic times have been consistently challenging, it’s easy to get caught up in just surviving and forget what it feels like to have the wind at your back.
Just how big of an impact can a few good years make? A local newspaper recently featured the Detroit Zoo, citing a contribution of over $167 million to the city in 2018. The Detroit Zoo is the largest paid family attraction in Michigan, with an average of 1.5 million visitors per year. In the last five years, the zoo was host to over 7.5 million visitors, with a whopping 46% of them crossing state lines just to visit. The zoo also generates over 1,900 full and part time jobs for people in the community.
The Detroit Zoo put significant effort into creating an experience that not only would be worth traveling to see, but would be worth a trip back to as well. Over the last five years the zoo spent over $40 million on upgrades to animal habitats and new exhibits, such as the Red Panda Forest Conservation Center. They also put time and energy into their staff, working with the front-line teams to ensure that a consistently engaging experience would be created for each person who walked onto the site. One team member described training as “a [helpful] reminder that we are creating positive guest experience by engaging every guest, every time, [and asking] “how can we add value to their visit?”
The most heartening thing about Detroit’s success is their consistent trajectory for growth. With a relatively small investment, their improvements to their site and dedication to staff training and guest experience have resulted in record numbers of sales over the last five years. They have created top performance as a habit, which continues to have a positive impact on the entire state.
Larry Alexander, president of the Detroit Metro Convention and Visitors Bureau, praised the zoo’s accomplishments by saying “The substantial economic growth of the Detroit Zoo and its significant impact on the region enhances the reputation of our community, provides jobs to local residents and attracts families and individuals to the region’s other attractions and businesses.” Detroit Zoo’s success is a phenomenal example of how providing stellar guest experience can drive repeated attendance and generate revenue for continued capital investments.