By Hari Kunduru
As you may have noticed, “rare” weather events are happening more frequently these days. Unseasonable heat waves coming months ahead of summer are becoming the new norm. Climate volatility is increasing and as a result, our constituents are slowly but surely changing how they approach outdoor activities, including a visit to their local zoo.
At Zoo Advisors, we’ve ramped up our business intelligence efforts to understand how modern weather conditions are affecting zoos across the nation.
We investigated the following questions:
- Does the possible ‘threat’ of inclement weather in a region, such as hurricanes or tornados, deter visitors?
- At what point do precipitation and humidity levels affect visitor attendance? How about if it’s a very hot or dry day?
- At what temperatures do statistically significant visitor breakpoints occur?
Three findings stood out:
1) Inclement weather leads to short-term visitor loss for up to one week after the event.
Floods, hurricanes, tornados, thunderstorms, and snowstorms are all major weather events that shut down businesses. Obviously, storms will cause visitor attendance to drop during the event itself, but did you know that most zoos typically see a reduction in visitors up to a week afterwards too? By parsing hurricane, snowstorm, heat wave, and flood data, we observed that the traffic from a zoo’s trade area shows a slight decline. This trend more visible along the East Coast and in the Midwest.
What can your zoo do about this? Leverage social media! Show off how your zoo is preparing for storms and the process of cleaning up the aftermath. People want to see your zoo in action behind-the-scenes.
2) Higher temperatures, along with high humidity, are shortening the average zoo visit.
It’s hot, sweaty, and your clothes are drenched. Sounds like a typical summer day in the South! With rising temperatures, more and more days of the year are becoming prohibitively uncomfortable for extended outdoor excursions. This reality is affecting zoo visitors significantly. We found that when humidity reached above 60% and the dew point was above 67F, guests shortened their visit or didn’t visit at all, indicating that above those numbers, environmental discomfort is suppressing visitation.
To combat this, install misting & hydration stations throughout your zoo. Make sure your visitors have the resources to keep cool and promote that! Another interesting marketing play is to showcase how animals keep cool in the heat. Share that information and entice your customers to visit the zoo in person.
3) 73-78 degrees Fahrenheit is the best temperature to visit a zoo.
After browsing the data at our disposal, our AI concluded that the ideal Fahrenheit temperatures in the U.S. forecasted for record topline attendance are:
- East – 72.7
- West – 78.2
- Midwest – 74 .6
This range is shown to provide the perfect environment for a visit to a zoo. Knowing that, you can now capitalize on your ‘perfect’ temperature days!
Running ads on social media? Increase the ad spend according to the weather forecast. Work with local radio and TV stations to promote your zoo and send emails to your loyal members reminding them that the best day to visit is coming up soon.
So, how did we calculate these findings?
- First, we divided the nation into 3 regions: East, Midwest, and Western.
- Next, we analyzed 15 zoos in both urban and suburban environments.
- Finally, we analyzed visitor data from 2018 and 2022, processing the datasets through artificial intelligence and regression tests to identify trends.
- We then cross-compared those trends using weather timeframe data from Amazon’s ASDI network.
But not every trend we found makes a difference in zoo visitation. For example, there’s no significant correlation between inclement weather and overall yearly visitor attendance; visits always seem to even out in the long-term.
We utilized the following parameters to discover trends:
- Average air temperature
- Sunshine hours
- Percentage of sunshine
- Rainfall hour
- Average wind speed
- Maximum wind speed
We can confidently say that none of these affected long-term attendance in a statistically significant way. People will make time to visit a zoo eventually.
Interested in learning how we can provide localized insights for your zoo? Drop us a line to let us know! Stay tuned for another data insights article next week, utilizing Zoo Advisors’ Audience Analytics service.