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How to Automate Visitor Counting at Zoos and Aquariums

August 28, 2023

According to the AZA, there are 215 zoos and aquariums in the United States. While they differ in size, location, and offerings, these popular attractions all share the same need to improve guest experience by managing traffic flow and bottlenecks.

Ticketing systems help gauge how many guests entered and when, but the data ends at the front gate.

People counting technology is used to automated visitor counting at zoos and aquariums to answer questions beyond the front gate, such as:

How many visitors are in the zoo right now?
What is the most popular exhibit by total number of visitors?
What is the most popular exhibit by longest average visit duration?

Take your traffic data to the next level by using it to guide operational decisions. If the most popular exhibits are located near each other, you may need to consider wayfinding changes to avoid bottlenecks or layout changes to encourage guests to explore the rest of the zoo.

Benefits of Visitor Counting at Zoos and Aquariums

  • Traffic patterns for efficient operations
  • Crowd control for improved guest experience
  • Restroom usage for optimal staff scheduling
  • Space utilization for ideal capacity levels

Traffic Patterns for Efficient Operations

A combination of ticketed entrances and sensor detected exits, zoos and aquariums are armed with data to determine park capacity at any given time and the changing traffic patterns throughout the day and week.

Within the park, people counters quantify usage of specified areas such as exhibits, demonstration stages, amphitheaters, cafes, and more. This data is the baseline for efficient operational decisions such as dispatching cleaning crews to most frequented areas, determining when and where to schedule zoo staff, and planning the placement of vendors and kiosks.

When management has a clear picture of the daily operations of their zoo or aquarium, they are able to be proactive and create unforgettable guest experiences.

Crowd Control for Improved Guest Experience

a queue counter monitoring how many people wait in line for a ride

Implementing visitor counters at the entrance and within the zoo allows for real-time occupancy monitoring.

Full park occupancy will tell you how many people are currently in the zoo. It pairs ticketed entrances with sensor detected exits to calculate real-time capacity. This data can then be communicated to guests, allowing them to make informed decisions of when to visit.

Within the park, sensors are used at theaters, retail stores, cafes, and other enclosed areas to calculate occupancy and prevent over-crowding. The current occupancy status can be displayed on a TV or smart devices outside the entrance to communicate to guests whether than can enter or wait.

Restroom Usage for Optimal Staff Scheduling

Restroom cleanliness can play a big part in overall guest experience. With a constant flow of people, it can be difficult to prioritize which restroom locations get the most attention.

Use data to drive your maintenance staff schedules. Our day-hour heatmap report in Vea will show you which locations receive the most foot traffic and when. This takes the guesswork out of how often to schedule cleaning at each location.

Space Utilization for Ideal Capacity Levels

To avoid over-crowding in any enclosed area such as exhibits, theaters, or demonstration rooms, communicate to guests when max capacity has been reached using a Vea-enabled TV display.

Vea includes a Rest API, allowing you to incorporate your park’s real-time occupancy status into your own mobile app or website. With the data at guests’ fingertips, they can make informed decisions on whether to head to the show or wait for the next time-slot.

How it Works: People Counting Technology for Zoos

The hardware component of the system is comprised of 3D stereo-video people counting sensors that are mounted overhead of the area of interest. The devices require PoE connectivity to provide power and network connection and a variety of mounting accessories are available to ensure optimal installation location.

With 97% or greater accuracy, guaranteed, you’ll feel confident in the data collected. As an added layer, we validate the accuracy of each sensor in the field and provide proactive sensor health monitoring.

Vea Analytics Reporting Platform completes the solution, providing easy-to-use access to your traffic data. Report on the entire zoo or aquarium in a single dashboard. Your SaaS subscription includes unlimited users, unlimited reporting, API access, and more.