It is no small task to care for wildlife under threat while serving and educating 150+ million visitors a year. 90% of zoos are either non-profit or public, and require significant private and public financial support. With the World Wildlife Fund’s 2016 Living Planet Report showing alarming global biodiversity declines, the survival of many species is at great risk. As a result, acceleration of zoological mission successes is more vital than ever.

Zoological missions drive a unique combination of activities that require increasing support:

See below for 25 ways CueContext can help zoos sustain their mission.

Today, sustaining zoological missions and accelerating their impact is as much about reach as it is about revenue. It is vital that zoos get more of their mission message into the public domain, but zoos have yet to unleash their true potential to leverage the global social networks of their 150+ million guests.

The Smarter ZooSM mobile platform is a guest communication solution that can:

By developing their Smarter ZooSM mobile channel, the zoo industry can leverage the same BUILD | GROW | MONETIZE model that is driving leading social media and mobile marketing companies today.

The 2016 Reuters Digital Signage Report concluded that social media outlets are becoming the primary channels where people consume news. According to Statista, 78% of the US population have a social media account, and worldwide there will be 3 billion social media users by 2020. Besides being a major disruption for traditional news publishers, social media is now an essential channel for any business seeking to reach and influence consumers.

However, zoos have a key advantage over traditional media outlets in engaging the public – a physical space and an emotionally-charged product that draws high volumes of people who are highly inclined to share their memorable experiences and increasingly able to do so from their mobile devices.

While zoos are unique in their ability to provide memorable physical wildlife experiences, including close-up sights, smells, and touch, they need more digital experiences that their guests can share that are designed to relay more of the zoo mission and messaging.

With the CueContext Smarter ZooSM mobile platform, digital experiences that are closely-related to the experiences that guests actually have can be shared on social media with auto-hashtags, helping to magnify the impact of each guest’s personal zoo experience, and enabling zoos to leverage and measure the collective social media reach of their guests.

According to Statista, 80% of the US population will have a smartphone by 2021. The potential to reach and engage large mobile audiences at zoos is unprecedented.

When combined with the CueContext Smarter ZooSM mobile platform, and a staff-involved digital engagement strategy, zoos have a unique opportunity to reach and communicate with and through their guests to further important mission outcomes.

US sports venues using proximity-based mobile platforms have reported ROI as high as 40x in incremental merchant revenues alone within one season. They have also reported app adoption rates as high as 30%, average transaction-value increases as high as 87%, and significant growth in sponsorship revenue.

In the Retail sector, main street stores and shopping malls using next generation mobile platforms have seen 50% longer dwell times, 74% higher foot traffic, 15x greater click-through rates, 14% more repeat visits, and 50% more purchases. (Source: Proxbook)

Context-adaptive and proximity-based mobile apps have very different guest-user adoption and retention rates than do traditional apps. They represent an entirely new class of mobile app, enabling an unprecedented increase in customer service and engagement.

Younger generations will not know what it used to be like – when mobile apps gave the same experience, to everyone, all the time. Experiential and destination venues that harness today’s mobile innovations will be able to significantly improve business outcomes. Zoos can achieve similarly impressive results as the commercial sector, and it is CueContext’s mission to help them do just that.


The Smarter ZooSM mobile platform enables zoos to leverage diverse types of data to deliver outstanding digital guest experiences that enhance a guest’s actual visit. Data is also available to evaluate performance, spot patterns, and improve the results of desired outcomes.


While Wi-Fi is not required, it will significantly improve the zoo’s ability to engage and serve guests in ways that drive guest satisfaction, educational outcomes, and revenue. Zoos can also use hot-spots to deliver Wi-Fi in designated areas, and the channel can be blocked for all traffic except for the Smarter ZooSM app.


CueContext will design a multi-tiered app adoption strategy with the zoo and its service providers. As app adoption grows, the zoo’s marketing reach and effectiveness also grows - both for reaching app users at the zoo, and through the social reach of guests that share the zoo’s digital content experiences. The platform can provide offers and coupons based on fine-grain contextual rules tied to guest patterns. Proximity-based alerts can raise awareness about the status and availability of zoo services, and give previews of nearby activities and experiences. The platform provides real-time and historical data that can directly correlate the zoo’s digital guest experience with specific outcomes: educational, operational, and financial. The system can show the number and location of guests using the app at the zoo, and can deliver automated and real-time content to those guests while tracking conversion results and popularity trends.


The social media channel that the Smarter ZooSM platform helps grow can greatly serve to increase the zoos addressable audience for a range of messages and objectives. Related to revenue, the channel can be leveraged to market reasons to come, offers that increase attendance at particular times, fund raising campaigns, and certain sponsor messages tied to sponsor-paid experiences and event packages.


Zoos can increase their ability to communicate a wide variety of messages to guests about the status of services, events, routes, wait-times, exhibits, attractions, and facilities to mitigate lost revenue. Revenue that would have been lost due to perceived parking difficulties can be re-captured with real-time parking and shuttle service updates. When near closed exhibits or standing in long lines, alert suggestions for alternative activities can increase guest satisfaction. Dynamic peak/off peak pricing alerts can optimize revenue and attendance flow.


Zoos can make coupons accessible in the mobile app, or trigger them based guest location. Zoos can also vary coupons by mobile app user types to target traditional and motivational behavior demographics. As coupons are redeemed, the zoo can gain insights into guest behavior along specific journeys throughout the zoo.


Zoos can provide very precise active and passive coupons according to a guest’s specific context and location proximity. An active coupon is sent with an alert notification message and is typically immediately actionable. Passive coupons are sent in the background without an alert, but are linked to regions within the mobile app software where guests are likely to discover them.


The platform can support mobile commerce to increase transaction efficiency. Doing so can reduce wait times when pre-orders or parallelized orders are coordinated with the zoo’s service providers. Guests are treated to a more efficient mobile purchasing experience, improving guest satisfaction and reducing unproductive time at the zoo. This can also increase the redemption of coupons, and increase order sizes through specials and package-bundle offerings marketed through the platform.


In addition to providing guests with opt-in screens to support the zoo during typical zoo transactions, guests can be prompted to donate in a variety of ways in connection to a specific wildlife experience in the form of in-line and subtle content marketing, including more ways to adopt, name, and participate with the zoo’s wildlife. The marketing reach for these solicitations is not limited to guests using the app. Content experiences can be designed to be shared in social media, so that the zoo’s addressable audiences for mission campaigns is greatly expanded by the guests who visit and support zoo.


Any zoo area can be a unique retailing point of interest with an immersive mobile experience similar to exhibits. Equally, exhibits can provide fun facts, fair trade stories, eco-impact stories, and offers that link a guest's exhibit experience to items on retail area shelves – personalizing the shopping experience and connecting souvenirs to causes. Welcome messages as guests approach shops and kiosks can provide tips for picking up mobile treasure hunt prizes and photo merchandise, or highlight stories about merchandise on the shelves.


QR code scanning is not new, but it becomes more powerful when the content that is delivered to an individual guest is not static and can be adapted by the mobile platform according to different engagement strategies. Wireless proximity technologies such as NFC and Beacons provide additional engagement options, and each serve the same essential purpose: to trigger an event that delivers a relevant and valuable mobile content experience to the guest.


Photo products are always a crowd pleaser. The mobile platform allows new ways to create photo products (e.g. green screen background masks, photo challenges for causes etc.), new ways to share photos on social media with auto-hashtagging to increase exposure of the zoo brand, and new ways to buy and retrieve photo merchandise from the zoo’s retail shops.


Any zoo area can be a unique concession point of interest with an immersive mobile experience similar to exhibits. Guests nearby can be greeted with welcome messages and menus at meal-times, or even special offers to draw guests away under crowded conditions. Culinary stories can be revealed to provide dining narratives related to the sustainable menu, produce life-cycle, healthy choices, and ingredients. Satisfaction surveys can be provided with a coupon. Pre-ordering, parallelized ordering, subscription dining, dining, all-day dining, and free drink offers can be used to increase revenue and app adoption, and are all proven techniques at venues like theme parks and stadiums.


Any event area can comprise multiple digital points of interest, to engage guests based on event themes, sponsorship plans, and even vendor areas. Guests can be engaged upon arrival, at specific locations, near specific booths, at specific times, and upon exit. Zoos can also leverage the mobile channel to market and create many more types of smaller events focused on very specific wildlife behavior.


Zoos can leverage their mobile channel to alert guests about nearby animal activities or experiences as they become available. Zoo schedules can be broken down into smaller, more focused elements that are specifically relevant to a guest’s location. Special opportunities to connect with wildlife that are typically difficult to coordinate with guests can be communicated to just the guests who are proximally nearby and in a position to act – or only to members of particular groups. A significant benefit of increased unplanned wildlife experiences is that they can include digital content that guests are likely to share – to further expose the zoo’s value proposition, and marketing and sponsor messages to a broad audience across social media.


The CueContext Smarter ZooSM mobile platform is designed to make the delivery of existing zoo content more effective, precise, and measurable. It is also intended to enable the zoo to leverage outside and worldwide content in a manner that is aligned with the zoo's own immersive wildlife experiences. Themed journeys can be spread across multiple points of interest, and revealed in stages to maintain attention and promote engagement. Educators at area schools can deliver curriculum in the context of the zoo as a classroom via “Bring Your Own Curriculum” days. Content experiences discovered by guests and shared on social media will significantly increase the audience exposure. Through the data collection and analytics capabilities of the platform, the zoo can measure both its internal and its external audience content participation.


Using location and proximity detection, a wide variety of zoo-themed gaming and engagement options are possible. These include trivia and treasure hunts, to amazing races and discovery contests. The zoo can even provide guests with encapsulated games that are only revealed when guests earn them by coming to specific areas of the zoo, but that guests can play even after they leave. Equally, zoos can unlock tips and clues for other mobile app games, like Pokémon Go, drawing younger guests back into the zoo’s official app in order to earn or find the sought-after tip or clue.


Any kind of media that is available on the web can be linked to the Smarter ZooSM mobile app – from photos and videos, to games and surveys, to streaming video and augmented and virtual reality. Zoos can build content partnerships between other zoos, cultural institutions, educators, professionals, and publishers to cost effectively deliver higher value and more impactful experiences to their guests. Premium content subscriptions and sponsored content can also be implemented to create new revenue sources and increase guest engagement.


Zoos can leverage the contextual marketing features of the platform to grow membership. Targeted promotions based on location, offers timed after guests have completed certain activities, and content experiences with membership offers shared on social media are just a few of the possibilities. Timely renewal reminders, ease-of-renewal through the mobile app, and re-enforcement of the benefits of membership at key moments during a visit can all serve to reduce member churn. Exclusive member offers and special alerts, as well as membership gifting and group deals, can further leverage the social channel. Zoos can also explore new types of members-only mobile content to help load-balance frequent member visit traffic, with experiences designed to promote under-utilized areas of the zoo.


The Smarter ZooSM mobile platform can increase the opportunities and value of sponsorship at zoos. Sponsor placements can be offered within the mobile app near app features, within the apps’ encapsulated content experiences (i.e. content marketing), as content expansions that are only viewable on a desktop (i.e. after guests leave or by social media desktop viewers), and via mobile coupons. Sponsors can sponsor any zoo experience or event through the Smarter ZooSM mobile app. Sponsorship can be targeted, just like the digital experiences themselves, at specific zoo audience demographics and for specific zoo contexts. Because of the platform’s ability to collect very precise measurements of in-zoo visitor activity and social media reach, the zoo can communicate the real impact of sponsorship to sponsors and to potential sponsors. This will allow the zoo to more easily sell sponsorships of various zoo features and events, to increase sales of higher-valued marketing package tiers of event participation.


When weather changes, safety issues, or contingencies arise, zoos can increase guest safety and satisfaction by providing timely notifications, instructions, and suggestions about where to go and what to do. In the case of weather, zoos can make guests aware of certain types and locations of products and amenities available that might be of interest.


Zoos can use the platform’s proximity notification features to alert nearby guests in real-time about spontaneous and observable wildlife behaviors, zookeeper activities, and enrichment activities. Guests will appreciate being informed of interesting wildlife moments that they would normally miss. As guests engage in these these semi-serendipitous encounters, the zoo can also provide digital content that enhances their experience, which in turn can be shared on social media – serving to expand the potential educational impact and to promote zoo attendance.


Whenever there is excess capacity at events, theatres, lecture rooms, or dining areas, zoos can provide alerts and coupons to nearby guests to incentivize certain behaviors and fill open spots. Furthermore, facilities status and available capacity can be continuously updated for those searching to figure out what they should do next.


The platform’s unique context-detection features, and its ability to deploy targeted content to guests at specific locations at specific times, can enable zoos to collect comprehensive and granular feedback from visitors. This approach drives larger volumes of much higher quality data much more cost effectively than traditional approaches. Feedback via mobile surveys and “quick questions” can be solicited in exchange for mobile coupons as guests arrive or leave an area, or solicited at the time of a discrete experience while at exhibits, lectures, dining, parking areas, etc. Feedback can also be captured indirectly from guests’ “likes” of the zoo’s mobile content, the scope of social media sharing, and the route-patterns guests exhibit during a visit. Information about content distribution, open rates, and click-through rates can also be captured to continuously and incrementally improve survey techniques.


CueContext’s Smarter ZooSM solution can not only help zoos improve results for themselves, it can also help zoos improve results for area business partners who have an interest in accessing the audience the zoo serves. When appropriate, the zoo could surface an offer from a business partner to a zoo visitor, during a special event for example, and businesses and schools can collaborate with the zoo on new ways of serving guests with joint added-value or cross-promotions. These experiences and coupons could be searchable or surfaced dynamically as an alert within the Smarter ZooSM app, when a zoo visitor is in proximity to specific areas of zoo or near specific areas of the business partner’s own establishment.