If ever there was a shining example of an organisation or company outwitting the recession, then Fota Island Wildlife Park would be it. A not-for-profit organisation which receives not subsidies from the Government, Fota Island Wildlife Park has reversed an initial recession led slump to gain new visitors and maintain regulars through a very clever and innovative series of park improvements and marketing strategies.
When the slump hit them in 2008, instead of cutting prices or tightening their belts, the wildlife park whose income goes to entirely to maintaining the welfare of the animals, decided to put in place measures that would attract new customers whilst keeping their loyal fanbase. Realising that families want to be entertained and need a fun and varied day out to keep returning, the Fota Island based wildlife park started investing in adding extra wow factor elements such as African drumming, magic shows, Easter egg hunts and Mother’s Day fairs as well offering family friendly face painting, arts and crafts and story telling services to their usual attractions.
With most of the fanbase repeat local visitors, Fota near the top Cork hotel also decided to add more visitors from overseas, with the wildlife park starting to target airports and hotels in and around the area, raising the profile of their tourist friendly attractions. The online world and community was also fully embraced, the park recently updating its website to incorporate a fully functioning and innovative social media network and online community that encourages visitor input and discussion. By reaching out and connecting to its huge resource of online and local fans and encouraging them to engage with the park online has helped to continually inform and keep a growing fanbase.
Fota Island also invested in a the physical environment, upping the number of gates from two to five to reduce queues, and adding a new shop, a second cafe, a new playground and new animal exhibits to reinvigorate the park. All these innovative measures combined with its ethics and passion for educating visitors both young and old about its inhabitants and the island parks continued dedication to conservation and protection of endangered species helps the park to buck the trend.
By showing such innovation and market awareness, the park based on Fota Island is a beacon of hope for both wildlife conservationists and endangered businesses. With such clever thinking and great ethics, Fota Island Wildlife Park is an inspiration to all. Long may it continue.