zoOceanarium Group | technical and personal interactions

zoOceanarium Group, a specialist in the new generation of aquarium and zoological installations, is dedicated to creating fun, educational and interactive experiences that connect customers with animals. The company, which operates both the St. Louis Aquarium at Union Station and the Dallas Children’s Aquarium, is adept at balancing one-on-one personal interactions with technology-enhanced interactions.

Technology-based interactives

The St. Louis Aquarium offers a range of technology-based exhibits to engage its guests and connect them with the Aquarium’s mission, including the 2020 THEA Award-winning Entrance Experience, which gives the tone to the fantastic experience that guests are about to have. There’s also an augmented reality sandbox where visitors can see firsthand how changes in topography affect waterways; and Tommy Talk, a 3D digitally animated river otter operated by an actor/puppeteer.

St Louis Aquarium kids are amazing

Technology was key in 2020 when, shortly after opening, the Aquarium was closed due to local stay-at-home orders following the pandemic. The attraction offered live streaming events so it could continue to connect with guests.

The Dallas Children’s Aquarium features a giant virtual aquarium with guest-animated fish – animals are colored by guests, scanned into the system, then projected into the virtual aquarium, where they swim.

At the same time, both facilities have strong, well-trained teams of customer experience associates who guide customers through their journey. This interaction allows the operator to create unique and personalized experiences as aquariums connect with customers based on their interests.

Team members are essential

Even with all the technology, species diversity, and “wow” moments at both institutions, guests consistently comment on the positive impact personal interactions have had on their experience.

From showing off the accuracy of archerfish as they shoot a stream of water at their prey, to introducing guests to one of the amazing animal ambassadors, to leading behind-the-scenes tours and sharing their facts favorites on aquarium operations, or simply providing assistance in a time of need, team members are the most important contributors to a positive customer experience.

The team interacts with guests touch pool st louis aquarium

While technology can enhance the customer experience in educational and conservation-focused organizations, such as zoos, aquariums, and science centers, and can even build connections if chosen intelligently, the importance of team in contact with the public should not be forgotten.

Transforming the customer experience from good to great

“When we read reviews and speak with our customers, we constantly hear about our ‘friendly and knowledgeable’ team members. These personal interactions lead to “wow” moments that stay with our customers long after their visit is over, says Tami Brownexecutive director of the St. Louis Aquarium at Union Station.

“As the latest gadgets and technology bring out the child in every guest and grab their
attention, time and time again, the ultimate factor that takes a customer’s experience from good to great is the interaction with your team. It’s the personal touches, the one-on-one conversations, that make guests feel ‘in the know’,” adds Ruston Hartdegenexecutive director of the Children’s Aquarium Dallas.

“That’s what transforms them from a guest to a team member, supporting your mission,”

The children of the Saint-Louis Aquarium get involved

“When I give tours to representatives from other organizations, two of the most common questions I get are about sources regarding technology and the high number of team members interacting with guests,” says Erin Clark, director of animal projects for zoOceanarium Group. “The latter still surprises me a bit, because it has become so natural to us, but I think now more than ever, we can all appreciate the positive impact that human interaction can have on us.”

Last month, zoOceanarium shared details about his award-winning training program. Implemented at The Green Planet in Dubai in 2016, the comprehensive program won the zoOceanarium Group an IAAPA Brass Ring Award for Best Innovation in a Training Program.

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