Visitor looking through glass to attractions at the Melbourne Zoo

Melbourne Zoo's overarching vision is to "be the world's leading zoo-based conservation organisation," and it sees broadening its appeal as an essential way of achieving its mission.

Art Processors were engaged to create a tour audio guide for the 'I, Animal' project as part of an initiative to attract more young adults without children to visit. The Zoo wanted to explore a mobile application and audio guide as key elements of appeal to this target demographic.

Art Processors partnered with the Zoo and Adelaide-based theatre company The Border Project to create a unique, theatrical and interactive audio tour designed for groups of up to 200. Visitors picked one of four different "star animal" pathways through the Zoo for the nightly tours.

Ultimately, the conservation message had to hit the target audience and encourage ongoing engagement with the Zoo's outreach program beyond the exit gate.

 

Challenge

The project location provided both creative opportunities and technical challenges. We had to design a flexible and robust audio delivery system that would allow visitors to engage with the creative content but not get distracted by their devices. Tour flow and virtual queuing had to be integrated and manageable for staff, as safety and other factors required careful management of the four pathway tours. We also had to design a system that would allow Zoo staff to readily control the tour devices (iPods) and the options available to the visitor.

Approach

Working on a project in a Zoo setting is fun but also unpredictable. We designed an audio delivery system that was easy to use for staff, simple to navigate for visitors, but with enough creative scope to produce a memorable tour experience. To achieve this, we undertook extensive consultation with our project partners, endeavouring to fully understand the theatrical goals of The Border Projects as well as the Zoo’s desire to engage and captivate audiences.

Solution

We used a server-based algorithm that allowed visitors to timestamp their requests and receive their responses to align everyone evenly across pathway tours. This virtual queuing solution kept tour groups synchronised and devices in temporal harmony. For the takeaway conservation message, we included a “save tour” functionality that gave each visitor a personal digital keepsake of their tour along with the opportunity to sign up for conservation news, find out how they can take action, and share their experience on social media.

Impact
75 per cent of attendees signed up for conservation news
90 per cent of attendees 'liked' or 'loved' technology as part of the zoo experience
73 per cent satisfaction rating in target demographic