Cincinnati Zoo Adds FREE Wi-Fi to Enhance Guest Experience

Posted July 1, 2016

22025862925_a8bc326be5_bEasier and faster than ever to share your summer adventure!

 CINCINNATI, OH – (July 1, 2016) Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden visitors can now stay connected to family and friends using the Zoo’s new “ZooFreeWifi” network, engineered by Powernet and funded by a grant from an anonymous donor.

“Free Wi-Fi is available in parks, coffee shops, museums, libraries, hotels, city centers, breweries and even churches. It has become an expectation, and it makes sense for the most instagrammed location in Ohio to make it as easy as possible for our guests to share photos and videos,” said Chad Yelton, Cincinnati Zoo’s Vice President of Marketing and Public Relations. “If our visitors use it to show family and friends that they’re having a great time at the Zoo or to share an interesting animal fact or conservation message that they’ve learned, we’ve touched an expanded audience in the most effective way – via word of mouth. We’re enabling our influencers to do our job in a way that we can’t do it.”

The Zoo is hoping that the new Wi-Fi will boost on-site engagement from its 300,000+ Facebook fans and 81,000 Twitter followers. Visitor-generated photos tagged with #CincyZooPic are entered into weekly contests.

The new Wi-Fi isn’t just free, it also runs at cheetah speed! It was designed to deliver 24meg minimum per client (and is delivering 200meg in many areas).  The network can handle 10k concurrent clients & support 30k overall Zoo visitors on 1GB transport throughout the entire facility. Powernet installed 170 Ruckus access points, many hidden to blend into the Zoo environment.

“The Cincinnati Zoo project was unique and exciting for Powernet,” said Alli Stevens, Powernet CEO. “Our engineering team met the challenge to design an outstanding technical solution that maintains the aesthetics of the Zoo’s natural habitats.  We look forward to continued work with the Zoo to create new ways for the public to enjoy the Zoo.”

The ability to scan train tickets prior to boarding means less wait time for visitors and more time for staff to interact with guests. Benefits of the Zoo’s Wi-Fi beyond enhancing visitor experience include allowing the use of network-connected tablets instead of paper to conduct surveys, manage wheelchair and stroller rentals and present digital waiver forms for behind the scenes tours.

“From a facilities perspective, it’s all about efficiency.  Having consistent access to our network via Wi-Fi allows our team to manage our mechanical and water filtration systems on mobile platforms.  This reduces time for troubleshooting and lets us manage our infrastructure in real time.  This in turn saves us time and money,” said Mark Fisher, Vice President of Facilities and Sustainability.

Without Wi-Fi, the Zoo would not be able to book 75% of the corporate meetings it currently hosts, according to Susan McGee, Director of Sales & Catering. Clients expect Wi-Fi at an event venue.  “Guests at events appreciate the opportunity to stay connected to their office rather than exhausting data plans because they are at an offsite event. Without Wi-Fi, we would not be competitive in the marketplace,” said McGee.