The Columbus Zoo
Phase I – The Wilds
The Wilds (http://www.thewilds.org) is a safari park located 1 hour outside of Columbus, Ohio. The Columbus Zoo manages the IT infrastructure of the park and is taking a larger role in its operations as time goes by. The Wilds offers these amenities and services:
- Safari Tours
- Day and overnight camp programs
- Overnight accommodations (yurts, cabins and a lodge)
- A full education center
- Concessions including breakfast and dinner for lodging guests
- A newly installed zip line
- Horseback Riding
The Wilds began looking for a total solution to manage all operations of the park in 2008. Core requirements included:
- Centralized system to manage ticket sales, concessions, events, tours and lodging
- Online reservation capabilities for tickets, tours, lodging and special events
- Online membership and donation capabilities
- Intuitive system that could be easily understood by seasonal staff
- Solid reporting and ability to get transactional information to the accounting staff at the Columbus Zoo
- Ability to expand uses as the park grows
In 2009, The Wilds chose the Counterpoint Point of Sale solution (CPSQL) by Radiant Systems along with Outbound Software’s Online Reservation System (ORS) and the ORS to CPSQL connector to solve all of their needs. The decision hinged on these capabilities:
- Having one system (CPSQL) become the hub of all transactions and customers that touch the organization.
- Having an online presence (ORS – https://reservations.thewilds.org) to handle the disparate scheduling needs of each department within The Wilds. As an example, lodging reservations require a deposit and have various taxes applied whereas a safari tour has set departure times, capacity and no tax. All of these variables could be handled within the customer’s basket in the ORS.
Phase II – The Columbus Zoo
After good success with The Wilds, the Columbus Zoo turned their attention to their education department. The department had a solution for their scheduling but wanted a better online presence for their customers. After seeing the capabilities from The Wilds install, it was clear that the Outbound Software solution (ORS) was the proper choice. Key decision criteria was:
- Ensure the system (https://reservations.columbuszoo.org) blends seamlessly into the current www.columbuszoo.org website. Customers should not feel like they are leaving the main site to make a reservation.
- Have programs, camps and events turn on and off automatically on the site given a schedule. Many popular camps come available at midnight.
- Validate membership against their Accesso system. A customization was made here to validate membership benefits with Accesso via the billing page in ORS.
- Ask questions at the participant level for various activities such as camps and birthday parties. As an example, grade and allergies/special needs are asked during the camp registration process.
- Require a simple and intuitive process for the customer.
- Print roster reports with detailed information for camps, workshops, group tours etc.
Phase III – Zoombezi Bay
Soon after the Zoo went live with Outbound Software, the system was implemented at the waterpark of the Columbus Zoo named Zoombezi Bay. The Columbus Zoo turned to Outbound Software and leveraged its graphical availability engine to overlay availability icons on a map of the waterpark. Customers may now go online to reserve these popular cabanas for their day of fun.