Cincinnati Zoo transforms customer experience and boosts profits

IBM Business Analytics creates more than $2.2 million in total benefits, delivering full ROI within three months

Published on 7 Mar 2012

In our business case for Cognos, we forecast about a five percent increase in food sales, and we would have been more than happy with that. 30 percent is just incredible!

John Lucas, Director of Operations, Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden

Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden

Media & Entertainment

Deployment country
United States

Avnet Services


The Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden is one of the nation’s most popular attractions, a Top 10 Zagat-rated Zoo, and a Top Zoo for Children according to Parent’s Magazine. Each year, more than 1.3 million people visit its 71-acre site, which is home to more than 500 animal and 3,000 plant species. Although the Zoo is a non-profit organization and is partially subsidized by Hamilton County, more than two thirds of its $26 million annual budget is generated through its own fundraising efforts.

Business need
Increase attendance and revenues by enhancing the customer experience for each visitor. Boost sales for food and retail outlets through more effective marketing and promotions. Optimize labor costs by gaining a better understanding of demand patterns throughout the year. Implement a Business Analytics platform to support its transformation program and ongoing zoo management.

The project was initiated and driven by board-level managers, making its success a top priority for the Zoo, and making it easier to drive cultural change throughout the organization. The project committee defined measurable target outcomes and set clear goals, which kept the focus on creating operational capabilities rather than delivering technical solutions. Working in partnership with BrightStar Partners and IBM, the Zoo ensured that all three organizations understood and committed to this goal-oriented approach.

Provides a 360 degree view of customer behavior that helps to optimize marketing decisions, resulting in savings of more than $40,000 on marketing in the first year, while driving enhanced and measurable results. Increases overall attendance, prompting at least 50,000 new "visits" in 2011 through enhanced marketing.


IBM products and services that were used in this case study.

Cognos Business Intelligence

, , BA - Business Analytics, BA - Business Intelligence, Small & Medium Business, , Smarter Marketing, Smarter Planet, Social Business for Customer Service, Social Business for Marketing, Social Business for Sales

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