I was recently asked to visit and provide feedback on the new Vivid installation at Sydney’s Taronga Zoo. Vivid is a long running festival in Sydney which has now incorporated Taronga Zoo which has pledged to help 10 legacy species over the next ten years, with these legacy species being the focus of the light display at Taronga.
Taronga is based on the side of a hill which makes the train difficult to navigate attires, however the one way in – one way out path created a good foot traffic flow through the venue. Location of toilet, food and merchandise facilities along the way provided for timely, well spaced stops. The provision of a glow in the dark map was also a novelty which I am sure was kept as memorabilia by many.
Each of the legacy species was represented by a light installation which had significant WOW factor for all in attendance, however there needed to be more of a take home message about the conservation effort being placed around these species.
There were also additional light installations with the Chameleon offering a level of hands on interactivity in which guests had the ability to change the colour of the chameleon. There were also cicadas which responded to the sound of clapping hands.
The staff did well in what essentially became a role of crowd control which impacted on the ability to convey the conservation messaging which overall could have been conveyed with more impact and effect.
One of the difficulties of creating any experience is when you need or decide to engage third party service providers which may or may not have the same focus on guests as you. In the case of Transport NSW who provided the public transport for guests the zoo there had been obvious forethought into the numbers buses which were required and guests left at the ferry wharf were quickly accommodated with back up ferries. However, one staff member with the role of marshalling people on to the buses was very abrupt and rude in the ordering of guests onto buses. Agreed that this sort of role may be an unforgiving one, however two and a half hours later having enjoyed the Taronga Vivid experience I overheard other guests commenting that they hoped the “Cracky women” was not at the exit point for the buses. This just shows how much impact staff (internal or external) can have on an experience and also highlights the importance of where the experience begins and ends and where staff see themselves in this journey.