Recently I found myself at the Australian Finches exhibit at Taronga Zoo, Sydney, Australia and pondered what the customer journey though an exhibit might be.Below is a video of the exhibit and that is followed by my impressions of the exhibit as a customer journey and recommendations for enhancement.
For this exhibit to be engaged there first needs to be a conscious decision to want to see the aviary as it is next to, but not on the main path. For some people there will be an inbuilt or predetermined desire to view the exhibit that may be based on an interest in birds, recommendation from a previous visitor to the zoo, desire to see all exhibits or some other driving reason.
The exhibit signage is vibrant and displays two colourful Gouldian’s to attract attention. The signage is set off to the side of the path and with some minor repositioning would create increased visibility from the main entrance which may encouraged increased interest and visitation (see photo below).
For those guests without a predisposition to visiting this exhibit, what are the factors that may entice a guest to leave the path and enter the exhibit?
- Finches are a busy bird and as a result there is lots of activity in the aviary
- The bird calls
- Some seats to sit and take in the activity of the aviary to sit
- It does not take guests to far off the main path
- The landscaping, including crushed granite footing and setting lower than main path, creates a sense of difference, place within a place
Once a decision has been made to enter the exhibit (assuming from the top entrance) the following touch points are involved in the guests’ journey.
Stairs – the first part of the journey is to make your way down stairs, which whilst this may be a hindrance for some does give you a sense of entry and also privacy from the main path. For those with mobility issues or prams there is the option of the lower entrance
Gouldian nest box – The artificial nest box display allows guests to engage with the exhibit through touch and feel the nest box. However, the placement makes it appears as if it is in the garden and it is not clear if you should touch it as it is not easy to get to. Guests should have the ability to touch, feel and open the nest box and as such this needs to be more prominent and possibly even include another artificial nest box to allow more people to view and touch. It should be also at a height that children can easily engage and become interested in.
Pictures of display birds – While it is good to be able to identify the birds which are on display the information provided is limited providing a picture, common name, scientific name and location map for most species. The Gouldian information is duplicated and one species has additional information. As the hero of the exhibit more information should be provided about the Gouldian. There is also an assumption that this is all people want to know what other interesting facts could be provided for guests –what they eat, what they build their nest with – QR codes could be used here to allow people to customise the information they would like to have and take home with them.
Seating- the seat in front of the aviary is well positioned to allow guests to take in the activity and is not in the pathway. Seating to the side of the exhibit does not allow as good a view of the aviary. There is an option for theming with the seating, for example colouring seat in the colours of the hero species.
Viewing birds – The use of black wire assists with viewing birds within the aviary and the foliage is well spaced out to all for viewing of the difference species from multiple vantage points outside the aviary. The species of birds used within the aviary occupy different heights within the aviary (finches higher, pied stilts and ducks lower to the ground).
Gouldian nesting – As part of the exhibit it would be good to include a demonstration of artificial nest box which is on display outside the aviary. Strategically placing a nest box within the aviary could show how they work and would provided added support to the need for these in the wild. It is also evident that there are juvenile Gouldian’s within the aviary and this could add to the conservation story and demonstrate that Taronga is also supporting the species through a breeding program.
Bird calls – the finch call board is a great way of informing the guest of the different birds, encouraging linger time within the exhibit and informing them about the guests and is popular with adults and children.
It also acted as a good point of interaction for parent and children as they listened to the calls and then tried to find the birds in the aviary. It is a positive that this has voice instructions on what to do and is easy to operate. The sound of the calls from the device could be louder as sometimes it becomes difficult to distinguish the sounds from the aviary and those from the device.
Interestingly the board shows seven species of finches, however the main picture board only shows two and again there is no way for guests to customise the information they wish to receive about the species on show.
From the review of the customer journey through the Australian Finches exhibit the following recommendations are offered.
- Provide more information on species – guests need to be able to obtain more information about the species in the aviary for them to consume whilst observing or once at home – QR codes should be investigated
- Gouldian nest box – this needs to be more prominent in its location and allow more interactivity with the guests. It would also be good to see one being used in the aviary as well. There should also me a map to show which areas of Australia the nest boxes are being placed. What about including a screen with footage of these being used in the wild?
- Guest feeding – I noticed that in the Cumberland Woodland aviary the keeper would feed meal worms through the front wire of the aviary and the result was a majority of the species became visible as they came down to consume the meal worms. There is an opportunity here to involve the guests, why not advertise the time that this takes place, let guests have some worms wriggle around in their hands and then have them put them into the aviary through the wire. This would immerse the guests in the experience and enhance their ability to see the species in the aviary