How do Tourism products stay vibrant in the off season?

This week I visited the Toronto Zoo.  I have never seen a live Panda and after hearing endless promotions about the acquisition of two Giant Panda’s by the Zoo, I decided today was the day,  and off I went.  After paying for myself and my two kids, including parking I am looking at $72.00. I spend $26.00 on lunch at $14.00 on a snack at the end. In total my visit to the zoo for five hours is $112.00.

When it is only 5 degrees, the zoo feels different, its quiet. Most of the outdoor exhibits are closed. Almost all of the food options are closed. All of the little extra’s like Camel Rides,  kids activity zones, Gorilla climbing activities etc are closed. At the open food stand there is a lack of employees and really long lines.  Its kind of depressing, like you missed a really cool party and are left with seeing is one big hangover.

The clientele at the zoo mid-week is predominantly large school groups, which added to my disappointment, since viewing animals while large crowds of 8 year olds misbehave, out of the sight of their teachers is very unsettling. So why I ask, does the zoo still charge high season rates when things are past their prime? I felt a little ripped off.

It is important for the Zoo and other attractions to take a hard look at what they are selling and see if the value is still there. The parking lot was totally empty today, but they still charged $10.00 to park. Why not offer free parking during mid week visits in the off season?  Admission should be lower in October due to many exhibits and attractions being closed. The Zoo and other attractions need to ask the question, “What are our clients expectations?”  Of course I do not expect to see Animals shivering and freezing in outdoor exhibits, I expected there to be less offerings so why not give me a discount?  Or free “Zoo mobile” (the zoo transit system) rides etc. I am sure more guest would be walking though the gates if the zoo acknowledged that they were offering less, for a lower price. Instead you have people walking away, like I did,  saying “hmmmmm.”

But hey, the Panda’s were awesome…

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