Kathy Barton, Guest Services Manager of ZooMontana, shares how faster guest transactions, more personalized member experiences, and time to focus on what matters most helps ZooMontana rise to every new challenge.
Nearly every amusement park or entertainment venue has to work through the challenges of scaling up as the business begins to grow. Knowing when to invest in new attractions, facility upgrades, and new management tools can be tricky.
We recently sat down with Kathy Barton, ZooMontana's Guest Services Manager, who shared their recent experience upgrading to CenterEdge, and the surprising benefits they’ve seen as a result. Here’s what she had to say:
No. 1: Streamlined user interface for frontline staff
Barton: Before moving to CenterEdge, we used a system that was built for a store, so it wasn’t really compatible with our business model. We had a lot of buttons for every ticket variation, and the process for our frontline staff was confusing. This meant we had a lot of data entry errors.
Now with CenterEdge, we have streamlined the screens for the front line with fewer ticket types and easily apply discounts and coupons as necessary. This has dramatically increased our transaction speed while cutting down on manual errors, which gives us a more accurate picture of guest traffic and daily sales. And it’s a good thing, too. Since 2019, we’ve seen an 80% increase in general admissions and a 20% increase in groups. I often say that we got CenterEdge just in the nick of time.
No. 2: More personalized member experience
Barton: We have over 4,000 members and before CenterEdge, our member onboarding process was all manual. We’d sell a membership and have a guest write out their information, which we then had to input into both our POS system and our donor database, resulting in double work.
Now, we can process memberships right from the front desk, entering guest information at the time of purchase and taking members’ photos to add to their profiles and print on their actual cards. Not only does this give them a more personalized experience when they visit, but we’ve also reduced pass misuse and member check-in errors that we were losing revenue on with our previous system.
No. 3: Automated reporting for easier accounting
Barton: The back-office processes are a lot easier now, too. We used to have to compile a lot of reports manually, even just to pull together a daily deposit. But now, I have the End of Day Balance report as well as several other key reports automatically emailed to me or to our accountant. Daily and monthly, this has saved us so much time and effort that we need in other areas, such as inventory.
No 4: Agile approach to inventory management
Barton: One challenge that we are currently facing is with merchandising and inventory management. With the current production and shipping delays, keeping a line of merchandise in stock for our patrons has taken a lot of focus. I wouldn’t have been able to stay on top of purchasing if we hadn’t improved our other front-line processes, so having more time to focus on sourcing new products has been great. Also, we’ve been able to move all our retail products over to CenterEdge and can manage so much more efficiently now that we can build purchase orders and take in retail inventory right inside our system.
No. 5: More time to invest in what matters most
Barton: These new efficiencies have not only made it possible to manage inventory differently, but they’ve also opened up more opportunities for me to be involved at a greater organizational level. Now I can collaborate with our Animal Care and Education teams to host regular events celebrating conservation and the animals in our care. International Tiger Day on July 29th is just the latest holiday added to our lineup. With the staffing issues everyone is facing, it’s so important to keep staff morale up, and I’m able to devote more time to planning events and incentives to show our appreciation for the team. For example, National Zoo Keepers Week is coming up July 18-24, and we will celebrate our team for all they do in animal care, conservation, and helping our members and guests.
A look ahead
CenterEdge team: Kathy and her team continue to reimagine how they operate ZooMontana. Besides the process improvements and team-building events they have planned, Kathy also shared that next they’re working on increasing group sales, cross-training team members to help with birthday party scheduling, and preparing for the annual Renaissance Festival that takes place at the zoo.
Standing still is not an option, and the ZooMontana team is smart to take advantage of every facility management tool they have available in their CenterEdge system. When asked why they chose CenterEdge, Kathy replied, “We needed a system that could help us catch up but also be big enough to support us as we grew. So far, CenterEdge has been just right.”
It’s obvious that their growth is due in large part to the care and commitment they dedicate to their community, their team, and to the conservation and care of wildlife. Learn more about ZooMontana and the organization's impressive mission at https://www.zoomontana.org/.