A Model of Due Diligence: A Feasibility Case Study of the Aquarium at Port Canaveral: A Brevard Zoo Project

Crowd standing in front of an enormous aquarium


Keith Winsten, Zoo Director at Florida’s Brevard Zoo, contacted Zoo Advisors based on a long-standing relationship to discuss a new facility concept: The Aquarium at Port Canaveral. The concept was for a new aquarium to be built as a sister attraction to the Zoo, and to be located approximately 30 minutes away on the Space Coast. Keith shared an internally created pro forma model, and asked Zoo Advisors to confirm the accuracy and completeness of these attendance projections, as nearly all revenue functions are directly correlated to attendance levels for a facility to sustain and thrive. 


Zoo Advisors recommended that Brevard Zoo conduct an in-depth attendance feasibility study to complete their due diligence on this opportunity. As the life-blood of the facility, a single attendance projection methodology was not sufficient to move forward with a project of this scale. The Zoo Director requested this quick-turn project to be completed by January 2019, giving Zoo Advisors less than three months to complete it.

Zoo Advisors employed three discreet and independent methodologies towards assessing the likely range of aquarium attendance. First, a market penetration benchmarking approach was conducted. Due to the large out-of-town visitation rate of aquariums, Zoo Advisors acquired tourism visitation data from 12 comparable markets with aquariums around the country and analyzed how these attractions penetrate their markets. The second approach was a primary research engagement, where Zoo Advisors partner H2R Market Research surveyed 1,410 potential visitors within the region and primary tourism feeder markets, then quantified the intent recalibration outcome to develop an attendance projection and pricing research. As a third methodology, Zoo Advisors analyzed the existing primary attendance projection research that Brevard Zoo had conducted to confirm its accuracy. During this process, Zoo Advisors unearthed many pertinent additional insights via a market assessment regarding the favorability of the Port Canaveral tourism market as further support for the validity of the proposed aquarium.   


Both the primary research and benchmarking strategies indicated that there was likely significant upside above what was projected by the internal team at Brevard Zoo.  Additionally, the wealthy, strong and growing regional population base, coupled with a high-income tourism market of frequent vacationers with a disposition toward recreational activities and large family-size statistics provided a very favorable market base. These evaluation approaches and additional insights provided the complete due diligence necessary for Brevard Zoo to move forward with the next steps of planning the Aquarium at Port Canaveral.

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