How do you make a world-class visitors attraction even more engaging?

Using a mix of mobile web and app technology to enable pre-visit planning, reduce queue time at the zoo and enhance storytelling, all through a single Sitecore CMS framework

01. Approach

Our research revealed that a location-specific companion app would make planning and taking a trip to the zoo more enjoyable and interactive.

"The majority of visits to our website are from mobile devices so we know that there’s a big audience for our app. It’s a great opportunity for us to enhance the visitor experience by engaging with visitors before, during and after their visit. The app will really get people thinking about what’s around them and will help them immerse in the zoo experience like never before."

Simon Hacking, Chester Zoo’s Online Marketing Manager

We first needed to understand Chester Zoo’s customers in order to establish the barriers, problems and opportunities that mobile technology could help address. We did this by observing them, talking to them and testing with them, and subsequently mapped out the full customer journey to ensure the new app would meet their needs.

Users can access engaging, useful content including interactive GPS map guides
02. Technology

Storytelling using iBeacons, geo-location and push notifications.

The geo-fencing feature of the app means that content is customised based on the user’s location; if they're outside the zoo's boundaries, it promotes ticket sales, and when they’re inside, it provides prompts and reminders for events.

Visitors can prepare for their zoo adventure by using the app to book tickets in advance, view the latest news and photographs, and play games that ensure they’re aware of all the must-sees. When they arrive, the app’s interactive GPS map guides them through their journey, and, as they explore, Bluetooth beacons provide relevant plant and animal stories as well as raising awareness of the zoo’s essential conservation work across the globe. The app also has a gamification element with each area unlocking special features, new challenges and an opportunity to collect badges to become an `Expert Explorer.’

The Code team test one of the Bluetooth beacons that feed visitors timely and relevant information
03. Content Management System

A single Sitecore CMS framework powers the desktop and mobile websites as well as the app via a bespoke API that was developed by us. This means that zoo staff have total control over content and only have to input it once in order to get it live on the website, the mobile site and the app, which has helped to streamline team processes and maximise the value of content.

04. Results

We’ve increased revenues, improved operations and above all helped the zoo deliver a best in class customer experience.

While many attractions have either a mobile app or mobile site, very few – if any – offer an optimised checkout process like Chester Zoo; the functionality we have been able to develop and introduce puts the zoo well ahead of the competition in this and many other respects.


increase in online transactions


increase in conversion


increase in revenue