The Saint Louis Zoo is proposing the development of a conservation site and wildlife attraction to be located on 425 acres in northern Saint Louis County, approximately 14 miles from the existing Zoo property. The vision for the site includes animal breeding and husbandry areas for conservation activities, while offering a wide range of guest attractions and experiences. To determine the operational and financial viability of this concept, the Saint Louis Zoo needed a comprehensive assessment of the market’s capacity to support the facility, and a detailed analysis of the likely revenue and expense implications of a broad and complex suite of experiences.

Based on a long-standing relationship with Zoo Advisors and their reputation as an industry-leading consulting firm conducting feasibility, business planning and market research studies in the zoological and aquarium profession, the Saint Louis Zoo engaged the consultancy to achieve their goals of refining the vision, conducting primary research, a thorough qualitative assessment of the regional market, creating a dynamic projection model, and completing an economic impact study to answer the question: Can the attraction attract enough visitors and generate the revenue to sustain and thrive?

Zoo Advisors employed a multi-faceted process to complete the assignment, partnering with H2R Market Research to conduct the preliminary concept and pricing research, and with MFA on market research. Interviews with key stakeholders and a benchmark of comparable facilities were conducted, along with a public survey of attraction concepts, including a price point study. Visioning workshops and collaborative brainstorming with various audiences, including Board members and the staff, contributed to the comprehensive study. Zoo Advisors integrated the findings from H2R’s research and built a dynamic operating model for the site that projected likely outcomes for attendance, revenue and expenses over a 10-year period.

The results, which included the data model, pricing and concept research, and the economic impact study, concluded that the vision was indeed feasible and likely to be sustaining. As a result, the Saint Louis Zoo will now move forward with further development of the site, confident in the research led by Zoo Advisors exemplifying their brand by exceeding expectations of casual visitors and veteran conservationists alike, providing an unforgettable experience while doing real, meaningful work to preserve critical species and wildlife.

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