“M Worldwide rose to this challenge in its ability to understand what our visitors want, to collaborate with the many stakeholders and partners involved in making this happen, and to do it on time and to budget.”

Simon Mann
Director of Development, Chester Zoo

With 1.4m visitors a year, Chester Zoo is the UK’s second most popular paid-for attraction in the country. As part of a £225 million long-term masterplan scheme, the zoo’s entire arrival area was architecturally remodeled. Ticketing, a 600 square meter retail site, membership and adoption areas now revolve around a central piazza.
 
We were asked to review the zoo’s key messaging and mission about conservation and education to create an unparalleled visitor experience throughout the indoor areas of the new piazza. The new proposition, messaging, look and feel and fit out for these areas needed to bring the Chester Zoo brand to life and provide an enduring, positive and differentiated offer to promote return visits and increase dwell time for the zoo’s diverse visitors – from school groups and families through to adults only.
 
The core idea centres around a ‘Base Camp’ theme: the reference point, the place that everybody returns to for all of their support needs. This is best showcased in the retail shop, and similar design principles have been adopted in all the other areas to ensure a consistent journey for customers. This includes:
 
•   ‘The Tree of Life’: representation of a giant merchandised tree with integrated audio visual equipment in the retail area, enabling the zoo to have engaging conversations through demonstrations, talks and events.
•   Breaking the ‘soft toys’ mould of zoo shops by introducing two main merchandise zones – one for kids and one more adult orientated.
•   An honesty and naturalness with materials, finishes and point of sales to bring the zoo’s outdoor experience indoors.
•   Circulation, traffic and queuing solutions to cope with massive surges of footfall in the summer and at other key points in the year.
•   Flexibility and practicality of fixtures for merchandising solutions.
•   Use of sustainable and energy efficient materials and finishes where possible, particularly in terms of lighting.
•   Review of the zoo’s tone of voice, graphics, point of sales communications and bags (paper, plastic and bags for life) to link purchases back to Chester Zoo’s wider mission of conservation and education.

“A seamless visitor experience is critical to the success of our wider development plans. M Worldwide’s brand-led customer centric approach has been invaluable to that. The Base Camp theme gives our visitors more reasons to return to the entrance area throughout the day. Their holistic and robust approach will ensure our retail, ticketing, membership and adoption environments are an integrated part of the zoo’s overall visitor experience.”
Dominic Strange, Business Operations Manager, Chester Zoo