Zoom Torino’s Way to Use Beacons Without Distracting Visitors

We’ve gotten used to big figures in beacon use cases—as consumers are adopting the technology and companies are getting better in addressing their needs, engagement metrics and conversion rates are growing. But there are some who don’t aim for such sky-high numbers. Let’s take museums and zoos—for them, huge engagement in a beacon-enabled app means that visitors stare at their smartphones instead of watching exhibits.
If that sounds familiar, read on and learn about an interesting technique that one zoo used to keep the proximity experience subtle so it doesn’t distract visitors. How to use beacons in the zoo?
Table of contents

Bringing beacons into the wild

Zoom Torino in Cumiana, Italy is a 160,000 square meter zoo and amusement park that presents Asian and African species in immersion exhibits.
Visiting a zoo without bars or cages is an extraordinary experience by itself, but Zoom Torino’s staff wanted to provide visitors with even more value by teaching them about their animals and saving the wildlife. They also aimed to boost the zoo’s business potential and encourage visitors to drop into cafes and shops.
Beacons seemed to be the best choice, because they’re easy to use, can handle a wide range of content, and gather statistics on user behavior. For the implementation and deployment process, Zoom Torino teamed up with LabWerk, an Amsterdam-based startup creating beacon-enabled apps.
beacons zoo

Zooming up

In May 2015, the Zoom installed 55 Tough Beacons, (our beacon line that’s designed for outdoor and extreme conditions) and in early June the app launched. It provides visitors with an interactive tour—beacons trigger educational content, quizzes, coupons, and a map showing user’s position and allowing them to easily browse the zoo’s attractions. Also, they let the zoo gather granular data on user behavior, both mobile and on-site. Thanks to that, the staff has found out that an average visitor spends three hours in the park and identified some problems and opportunities to address in the future:

Apart from enabling us to use different ways of educating and entertaining our visitors, beacons provide us with insights on the visitor flow, which helps us improve the visitor experience. In the future, we’re going to take it to the next level by redirecting visitors to other places if one is crowded, or offering special promotions based on weather conditions.

Filippo Saccà, ZOOM Torino’s marketing and communication manager

When it comes to mobile engagement, on average, 60% of visitors actively use the app for more than 25 minutes, and an average user interacts with 25 pieces of beacon-triggered content.

Beacons for the Zoo – Changing the approach

You may be thinking it’s not much when compared to 3-hour tour, but here’s the thing. To avoid distractions, the zoo decided not to display content when a visitor is in front of animals.
Instead, the app registers beacons you’ve stopped by and displays the content linked to them as you enter a restaurant or leisure zone (the more animals you’ve seen, the longer your coffee break may be.) The app will lock again at the exhibits, but you’ll get an on-demand access to all the pieces of content you collected once you leave the park.
As you see, installing beacons in a zoo or museum doesn’t automatically make your visitors miss out on real-life experiences. Actually, it can boost their offline engagement and encourage them to learn more about your exhibits. Sometimes, all you need to do is to change the way your app delivers content. If this particular solution doesn’t work for you, the world of proximity offers hundreds of them. Which one will you pick? Share your ideas in the comments!