Aquariums are among the top venues for visitors to choose from the existing range of places designed for fun, thrill, and knowledge.
In short, the amazing visitor experience is what the management wants as well. New technologies which work for indoor navigation and wayfinding can just be the right fit!
Sometimes, aquariums could also transform into a place for groups of people to hangout and share quality time with friends and family.
The natural tendency of exploring marine life coupled with the interest of nature enthusiasts wanting to connect with natural life and its abundant species make aquariums one of the major venues to be visited.
Aquariums exhibit aquatic species and showcase their way of living within state-of-art facilities designed for human touring and exploration. In this context, the visitor experience at aquariums remains unparalleled when compared to spaces which offer the promise of fun, frolic, and adventure. However, to each his own when it comes to the question of which venue is best suited for a relaxing and rejuvenating time.
Before we get to the crux of this feature on ‘how aquariums can guarantee an amazing visitor experience’, let’s acquaint ourselves with the best marine life facilities across the globe in terms of size and splendor.
With a history of more than a decade, Georgia Aquarium located at Atlanta, USA, is the largest of all aquariums on earth. More than 100, 000 sea creatures are housed in the tanks of Georgia aquarium which makes it unique among other such facilities. It is also the only aquarium outside Asia which has whale sharks in the house too. Wow!
According to recent statistics, around 2.2 million people from different parts of the world visit Georgia aquarium on a yearly basis either as leisure tourists or as students on an educational tour.
In addition to the marine attractions, this museum also offers spaces for guests to stay, an expansive food court, and places to hold events both big and small.
Okinawa Churaumi Aquarium
Located within the Ocean Expo Park in Japan, the Okinawa Churaumi Aquarium is one among the most popular aquariums across the world. Opened for public viewing in 2012, the venue holds a diverse variety of water species accommodated in 7.5 million liters of water within its tanks.
Whale sharks and manta rays are the specialties of this aquarium kept alongside many other fish species in Kuroshio Sea. Also, as of July 2010, there have been a total of four manta rays born inside the aquarium.
The city called the Arts and Sciences city in Europe contains the world’s most diverse marine ecosystem in the Oceanographic aquarium. The astonishing features of this venue include separate tanks located within each building showcasing diverse aquatic environments like the Mediterranean, wetlands, temperate and tropical seas, oceans, the Antarctic, the Arctic, different islands, the Red Sea, as well as the Dolphinarium.
The tank holds over 45,000 marine creatures and the massive dolphin display stands as the specialty of this aquarium. Oceanografic’s tank holds 1.85 million gallons of water, populating nine underwater towers, structured in two levels.
As has been just mentioned, aquariums are intricately designed spaces with astute infrastructural elements to ensure visitors experience the greatest time of their lives while at the facility.
Planning v/s Execution
While the intention of providing an amazing experience for visitors may be right, does the facility itself house sufficient measures to ensure visitors’ experience hits the bull’s eye?
In all of the above aquariums, the visitors constantly face common challenges from lack of point to point navigation and wayfinding to locate the nearest restroom or food courts. Visitors mostly arrive in groups and once inside, plan their time independently based on the attractions they want to see.
After a point in their journey, regrouping and locating the entourage may seem perplexing owing to the volume of visitors on any given day. Apart from designated areas for watching aquatic life at its best, there could also be overcrowding and buzz near the restaurants, restrooms, lounging areas, etc. This serves as a classic example of adept planning but shortsighted execution as visitors want to leave the facility with unforgettable memories and not take back snapshots of crowded and overflowing spaces.
And, what about the safety and security of life on either side of the display tanks? Does the aquarium management have a plan in place which can be executed without causing panic and fear amongst its guests?
I definitely hope so!
The other problems related to execution will be discussed as you scroll down for more.
Indoor Navigation and Wayfinding
Wayfinding is a herculean task in a venue which is geographically larger in both infrastructure and population. With a constant increase in the number of visitors, it is the responsibility of the management to ensure hassle-free navigation and location of various attractions to visitors.
In addition to indoor navigation, registering for and attending events by visitors at the aquarium is also a complex task unless meticulously planned and executed.
Plan for Scheduling Time
Curious visitors come with a mission to explore the entire institution, especially in aquariums; and eventually, get disappointed when they are unable to soak in all that the venue has to offer. This could be due to two primary reasons – one, lack of planning their route inside the facility and two, unexpected crowding from other visitors which could hamper their course to respective attractions or events.
Instant Feedback from Visitors
When large groups of people come together for a memorable experience, soliciting feedback will always help the facility do better and gain favorable responses from them in the future. Feedback will help both the visitors and the management for further associations. Aquariums require an instant feedback mechanism so as to achieve the primary goals of providing optimal visitor experience.
As of now, not many aquariums seem to be in the business of garnering feedback from visitors.
Magnifying Individual Visitor Experience
In most cases, people at aquariums do not feel as connected as others due to some of their questions which remain unanswered. Due to volume sometimes, and lack of relevant information mostly, visitors’ individual experience is left wanting.
It is also worthwhile to gauge children’s responses on visits to an aquarium as it is they who enjoy this spectacle the most. The graph below projects how children are liable to revisit venues based on their earlier experiences.
Children are naturally fascinated towards artistic exhibitions like aquariums that exhibit the beauty of life hidden on earth. However, as can be noticed from this graph the number of children visiting aquariums has gradually decreased since the past few years.
What could be the reasons behind this trend?
Well, we are here finally! Right at that point where you can be introduced to certain technologies which can meet all of the above-mentioned challenges.
Ready? Here we go…
Technologies for Better Visitor Experience at Aquariums
Smartphone applications for indoor navigation and wayfinding
No matter how big and entertaining a venue is, it should always have technology added to it in order to help visitors navigate effortlessly inside the venue. This technology can help visitors find their way to points of interest without being obstructed by either crowds or lack of navigating instructions.
Especially in venues like aquariums, technology plays an important role due to the complex structure that is built around water to sustain aquatic life. Visitors can make sure they strategically plan the day to know about every single species present in the aquarium tank.
Apps for Pre-planned routing and scheduling
Yes, you read that right. There are quite a few mobile applications in the market which help you plan your day at the aquarium before leaving your home. Isn’t that feature time saving and an experience in itself? Planning your day becomes very important while exploring large facilities. A feature like ‘schedule your day’ will help you plan your day and schedule your time at each attraction once inside the venue.
Large facilities like aquariums should always think about how visitors are going to navigate in a place which could be awfully crowded. Another challenge occurs when visitors are so engrossed in the sights of the venue that they tend to ignore their safety within the venue.
However, with emergency management, the safety of the visitors is certain. This feature gives timely tips and emergency alerts related to the safety and security of the visitors during their tour of the facility. Also, this helps is visitors appreciating the management for their commitment towards a safe and enjoyable environment eventually aiding in the development of a good rapport between them and the management.
The colorful fish, charismatic sharks, large and small octopuses among others make visitors’ experience the beauty of life beyond land. With technology being embraced at venues like aquariums, visitors can really have a productive day at the venue without any challenges.
In all, visitors experience becomes the most important task in aquariums and indoor navigation is the pathway to achieve that.