Panda Management Ähtäri Zoo Project Plan

The project plan - Intro

Our commision was to rethink Ähtäri Zoo’s food and beverage services. We began by creating ways to follow up on our project.

At the start of our project, we began by creating a Google Docs to write down approximately in which time frame we should work in. Later on, we decided to track our progress by using a more visual tool, Meistertask. We had a meeting each week and continuously discussed our progress on Facebook Messenger.

Our process was continuous and creative ideas flew in each meeting. Our personal goal was to do something unique but also profitable. We wanted the restaurants themselves to add to the attractivity of Ähtäri Zoo and give more reasons for people to come. This is how we came up with the concept of Taikametsä. We wanted to have one “main” restaurant where we would have a true restaurant experience. We got inspiration from the rainforest café and other theme restaurants.

We divided roles as they would help us divide our tasks. Janina became our project manager, being in charge of keeping the project on time and running. Noora was our imagineering expert, as she had previous experience of studying this. Matteo was assigned as our marketing/creative director, due to his knowledge in marketing. Sang was our financial genius, being in charge of the budget. Jonna’s task was to keep up with the communications of the group, therefore she was assigned as the communications manager. Ha, who joined later on, became our staff master. Her responsibility was the staff plan.

In the end, everyone ended up helping each other out and also managing to do their assigned tasks. All in all we were very happy with our team and worked together very well.

Food & Beverage plan

Ähtäri Hall

Ähtäri Hall, for the customer, is either the first or the last touch point they have in the Ähtäri Zoo. This is why the atmosphere of Ähtäri Hall is must be emphasised. The slogan of Ähtäri is "where the nature meets you".

The ambiance of Ähtäri Hall is created by the birch tree interior and the continuous chirping of birds given by an audio system. The plant interior inside Taikametsä and Ähtäri hall are an essential part of our plan. They create continuity and emphasise the Finland meets Asia aspect.

Ähtäri Hall’s main products are healthy to go food items in themed boxes and memorabilia. The healthy to go foods are a way to create more revenue by offering the customers healthy options. This is attractive to families and individuals whose values are on healthy living. It will also attract commuters travelling through Finland.

The themed to go boxes are an eyecatcher and therefore work as a marketing tool. Memorabilia, like bamboo straws, are used as an additional marketing tool and revenue stream. They create more value to the experience and work as a reminder for the guest about the zoo. Other example of memorabilia are the already offered animal plushes, panda shaped lunch boxes and reusable to go coffee cups.

Cafè Mustikki

Our food and beverage project plan includes Café Mustikki which is the home animal farm. Cafè Mustikki will provide special do-it-yourself fruit packs to Ähätäri visitors with pre-cut fruits. In these packs, visitors will find instructions to get the fruit to look like animals. This type of service will provide an experience and a feeling of togetherness as people need to help each other to create their fruit-animal.

Example of Do-it-yourself fruit packs at Cafè Mustikki

Cafè Mustikki will also provide pancakes and waffles with homemade jam, possibly from berries collected nearby. Ice cream will be sold as well as a high quality filtered coffee, freshly grounded on the spot. As mentioned above, the idea of togetherness plays a key role and shape the whole experience. In addition, the meaning of togetherness (“Yhdessä olo”) is strictly linked to Finland’s 100-year celebration.

Cafè Kouvo

Cafè Kouvo will provide high-quality coffee, local bakery goods, high-quality ice cream (e.g. kolme kaveria) or a homemade ice-cream. In addition, at Cafè Kouvo, visitors will have the possibility to find healthier options as well. As a matter of fact, this list of choices will include fresh fruits, smoothies, freshly pressed juices or blueberry juices (e.g. from local blueberries). Other options will include sandwiches and finally, Finnish berry wines. As many visitors want to enjoy high quality goods, Cafè Kouvo is expected to meet their needs.

Restaurant Taikametsä

Ähtäri Zoo is the perfect place for a themed experience focused restaurant as people come to Ähtäri Zoo for a fun, exciting and educational day together with their loved-ones. Having a restaurant to support these feelings and ideas would not only contribute positively to the consumer experience and feelings towards Ähtäri Zoo, but also in terms of revenue and business growth. Having a restaurant that will attract customers with its speciality during both low and high seasons will most definitely have a positive influence on the revenues gathered. Taikametsä is this restaurant.

Taikametsä is about more than just a meal, more than a quick meaningless bite before heading back home from the Zoo. It can be the highlight of the day on its own or better yet accompanied with the visit to the Zoo. It aims to surprise in a positive way, leave the consumers with something they will remember even for years to come and encourage them to share their memories of the great time they had at Ähtäri Zoo and Taikametsä to friends, family and new acquaintances. It’s all about engaging all of the five senses with its interior design aesthetics, sounds of nature, delicate tastes and scents of finnish-asian fusion cuisine without forgetting the aspect of tangibility through memorabilia, entertainment and furniture.

The interior design is inspired by the natural habitat of the pandas, hence having the feeling of being in midst nature as that is where the true beauty of the surroundings lies. To enhance the positive cues of the theme, the restaurant is decorated with details made of bamboo, as well as other details such as plants or decoration that can be linked to the idea of nature and pandas for this particular panda focused concept. The details and decorations can be changed and updated along with the theme, hence they’ll be in a minor role at the restaurant.

Examples for Interior design

To make the customer journey and experience as smooth and easy-going as possible, especially during the high season when the restaurants are full and the waiting times for food are less pleasant, some cost-friendly tactics to decrease the annoyance would be used. As waiting for the food to arrive can be a challenge for kids and adults all alike, having for example ancient Asian stories and tales printed on leaflets on the tables to entertain the customers while waiting for the food is a great way to both enforce the theme and diminish the negative aspect of waiting hungrily for the food.

The staff is at great importance here, as with their service the stories come to life and have a meaning. For example there is a tale of the bamboo cutter which in short tells the story of the life of a mysterious girl who was discovered as a baby inside the stalk of a glowing bamboo plant. The waiters can chat with the customers about the tales, add facts that weren’t mentioned in the leaflet, enriching the story and making the service interaction more personal and meaningful for the customer. The waiters could also engage the customers in a conversation about the pandas, talking about their personalities, their favourite things, what makes them happy or what funny incidents have happened lately with them more in-depth. The interaction wouldn’t have to be long as there are duties to fulfil and tasks to take care of, but the idea is to initiate a conversation with the customers, share more personal information about the animals and in the end wow the customers with the service they receive.

To provide memorabilia and delight associated with Ähtäri and Taikametsä, the first drinks at Taikametsä would be served with bamboo straws varying from the amount of 1 to 3, so the drinks at the tables would have randomly chosen number of the straws. In China Lucky Bamboo plants and stalks have been given as a gift for centuries as the plants hold a specific meaning in Feng Shui. Different amount of stalks represents different positive meanings, such as one stalk foresees simplicity and a meaningful life, two stalks are predicting the best of luck in love and marriage and the three stalks are about overall happiness in life.

Bamboo straws

The catch is that the bamboo stalks have to be received as a gift for the good luck to come to you, hence asking for them or buying them on your own wouldn’t work. If the customers want, they have the option to take the cleaned re-usable straws home with them after the restaurant visit. The staff is the key to success with this as well as they can educate the customers and inform the them about the meaning of the straws, hopefully positively surprising them.

Having such memorabilia works wonders on word-of-mouth and seconds as promotional material as the customers might share their stories of Ähtäri visit for their guests when they see the straws at home. Cost-wise the purchasing price of the bamboo straws would be included in the prices of the menu to avoid losses for the restaurant.

Considering the longevity of this restaurant concept, for the future any major changes wouldn’t be necessary as with just shifting the focus to details and changing for example the stories, memorabilia, the menu or the “theme” from pandas to other animals of the zoo, the customer experience can be altered and a sense of newness offered for the consumers.

Menu example for Taikametsä

Service path

Personas

For our service path at Ähtäri we decided to focus on family persona. In this case we have the Nieminen family from Nokia. This family has 3 children and a middle-class income.

Description

This family decides to come to Ähtäri with another family to have a fun activity filled day during the weekend. They arrive with their own cars, well prepared with a schedule and some snacks to keep the kids energetic throughout the day.

The parents want to spend some time together and chat while the kids are participating in activities after the Zoo tour. The aim is to experience a day that will be remembered long after the visit, filled with pictures, laughter and relaxation. No stress.

Wants & Needs

  • High quality
  • Smoothness
  • A lot of pictures & memorabilia
  • Easiness, stress-free
  • Ability to plan and schedule
  • Real-time checking of what is happening --> avoid traffic, notifications

Pain points

  • Dietary restrictions of the youngest son
  • All day on the move --> driving from Nokia to Ähtäri and back
  • A large party on the go --> together with another family
  • Crankiness of the eldest kid
  • Short attention spam of the kids

Family persona at the F&B services

budgeting

Units budgets are believed to be one of our most concerns in planning and reviewing the finances, because from here we will be able to show that our careful accounting plan will make the new concepts feasible. These budget charts below represent our analysis of how money are expected to be spent in future. Depends on the concept and the opening hours, the expected needs and money are carefully outlined in order to suit the concept of new units. Besides, it is believed to help the owners with managing time to spend creating and managing capital resources.

Since the busiest season for any leisure service business is summer, they will choose their fiscal year starts from October to next year’s September. The reason is after September, most of the revenues would be received. In our case, we will plan our budget after March, starting from April.

Making profit with Cafè Mustikki

Below is our prediction of how much money the newly-created café Mustikki will receive and how much it will spend over the season. We expect that the money will be spent less than the revenues received.

This café will be open everyday in the period from 9 of June to 13th of August, while the rest of years open only in weekends. Because only in the weekend, the family with kids or single guests could have their free time to visit for quality personal time. According to the zoo’s opening hours, we assume that this year 2017 the café is to be open 66 days in predicted high-season, and the rest of the year weekends are the opening time, 29 weekends plus 2 weekends days is 89 days. In total, this year we have 155 days of service. After the revenue calculated, all the indirect costs of operating this café Mustikki are added.

Restaurant Taikametsä

This restaurant themes on Asian styles, which focuses on Asian travelers and locals that are interested in mixed Asian-Finnish cuisines. We strongly suggest to arrange new sets of bamboo-made furniture to create an interesting atmosphere in this wild land. However, there are also several options of furniture that can fit to the bamboo design restaurant, for example this iron furniture set shall not take much space and easy for coffee gathering meeting, suitable for both indoor and outdoor use. Another trend is the bamboo folding table with chairs, might look simple but easy to use and eye-catching (we can view here.)

One set including 4 seats costs 40USD, and if we buy with big amount from wholesalers the price would be negotiated. It is also negotiable to request the suppliers for the long table design which is suitable for family/big group of 8 people. We would advise 3 long tables which accounts 24 seats, and 12 sets of 4-seat tables, then the cost of new furniture ranges around 690USD to 750USD (negotiable). One of the advantage is the eco-friendliness with environment due to the bamboo use, but the disadvantage might be the quality, so they shall depreciate in 3 to 5 years’ term and we need to store available sets to replace (in case of damage).

Another interesting set of tables & chairs like this, ranges from 4000USD to 5000USD. They are of better quality and firm. There is a lot of interesting unique design of bamboo furniture, so best possibility is to order from country that have available sources of bamboo and cheap labor so they can design the products match our needs, such as VietNam, the Philippines, Thailand, Indonesia.

Ähtäri Hall brings profit due to its concept

Being considered as the national tree of Finland (Wikipedia, Culture), birch is easily encountered in the Finnish’s nature. However, bringing the concept of a whole birch forest into the café/ restaurant might arouse the curiosity of people who simply love nature. We are looking to deliver the natural green element into the house. How can we do that? There is already birch tree concept applied in restaurant in Germany and UK. If we copy the style of it, then we need the permission of cutting/harvesting the good old tree, or buy from a source that provides. The cost needs to be negotiated between the two parties.

Cafe Kouvo's numbers

Cafe Kouvo is a healthy eating concept with snacks at a reasonable price. Usually the alcohol sales in restaurant might be much higher, but we believe that the limitation for each person is needed in order to get the guests to continue with their routine as zoo visitors. The berry wines are expected to be a flash to emphasize Finnish alcohol culture.

staff plan

Staff plan is very essential part for the whole concept. Staff is a key figure to deliver a great, personal and different experience to customers.The strategy of the staff plan is making a clear, organized, easy-to- applied plan with the aim to create a healthy, professional working environment as well as a beneficial staff plan.

Opening Hours

Based on the opening hour of the Ähtäri zoo and the volume of visitors, the opening hour of the restaurant and coffee shops are divided in three period: low, mid and high season. The requirements of the opening hours are not only satisfying the demand of visitors but also keep it beneficial. Therefore, in the low season when the zoo just open four hours from 10:00 to 14:00 we just open Aähtäri Hall and Coffee Mustikki on weekends only. We can use this time for renovation. Besides, this time we can organise winter holiday and skiiing holiday for permanent staff. In the medium season- autumn time, Taikametsä restaurant serve food in lunch hour only so we can cut the chef cost in quiet hours. In high season, all the restaurant and coffee shops opens in different time. Two coffee shops open later and close earlier. They open in the peak hour to support ähtäri hall and the restaurant. Taikametsä restaurant serve food in all opening time. The table above shows the opening time of each restaurant and coffee shops.

Shift Management

Staff Number

Staff Budget

According to Baker Tilly's Restaurant Benchmarks, a full-service restaurant should spend between 30 percent and 35 percent of its gross sales income on payroll. Besides, limited services restaurant and coffee shops normally spend around 25 to 30 percent for staff cost.

Organizational Structure

Responsibility

Restaurant manager’s duties include maintaining the restaurant revenue, profitability and quality goals. He/ she can be consider as a leader of a team. Daily work tasks of a restaurant manager are supervising, training staff and managing budget and daily benefits. Besides, he/ she also takes care of restaurant inventories, sale, marketing, staff feedback and complaints, supervisor, recruitment, inventories, training, customer feedback. Additionally, restaurant manager with the chef have responsibility in creating menu and maintain food hygiene and quality. We also have Coffee shop manager who in charge of the coffee shops side. He/ She will be in charge of the Ähtäri Hall, Kouvo and Mustikki coffee shop. The head chef also plays very important roles. He/ she will cooperate with the manager in setting goals, maintaining F&B quality and training.

Qualifications

There are some basic qualification that we expect in our staff members. Firstly, they have knowledge about F&B and customer services. There are some required skills such as teamworking, communication and language skills (e.g. Finnish and at least English). They should have a suitable personality to work in hospitality industry such as being tidy, organised, energetic and friendly. Finally, they must have hygiene and alcohol certificate.

Recruitment

The temporary staff number have a big ratio, therefore recruiting new staff before high season is very essential. A clear timeframe for recruitment plan is needed. The job advertisement should be very clear, interesting and informative about workplace, requirements as well as training and benefits. Besides traditional ways such as posting advertisement on the internet and on local newspaper, Ähtäri Zoo can contact directly hospitality schools for recruitment. Trainees and candidate under 18 year old are welcome. Hiring students in summer time is very important as their salaries are lower and, therefore costs are reasonable. They are also suitable for basic work tasks which don’t need previous training and experience. In addition, it’s important to keep the old staff by building a healthy and motivated working environment.

Training

Training is a key to build a strong team and keep F&B service quality high. The training session should include basic knowledge about Ähtäri zoo. Besides, they must have a clear and accurate information about F&B products. By doing this, staff can deliver informative and helpful experiences to the guests. In the orientation, getting to know other colleagues and understand team working spirit is essential. They also need to know about using and maintaining restaurant and coffee shop facilities.

Digital marketing

The first step of the Digital Marketing Analysis is analyzing what is the rank of Ähtäri Zoo on Facebook. What follows is the Facebook reputation on a scale from 0 to 100 and a list of pros and cons. In this list, we can find recommendations for increasing visibility and standing out in the crowd.
Marked in red, we have a list of specific areas that need improvements. Marked in green, we can see positive areas where Ähtäri Facebook page doens't need major changes.
Despite the above mentioned issues, Ähtäri Zoo has also several strenghts. These Include a very high Like Rank, PTAT (people talking about this), ER (Engagament Ranking) and many Facebook likes, as in the figures above.
These statitics compares Ähtäri Zoo Facebook page with other pages related to similar brands or activities in Finland. In the figure above we can see the overall Facebook rank of similar businesses in Finland.

Internet Research (Google Search Volume)

The research rates of Ähtäri Zoo clearly reflects the real-life situation with many customers in the summer and less in the winter. We can see when people searched information about Ähtäri on Google during 2016. Ähtäri reaches its peak only in certain periods of the year. These periods are related with the beginning of the good season (spring, summer) where normally Ähtäri gets more customers. Periods go from March 27th to April 2nd and from July 10 to August 27th (2016). However, most of the people search information about Ähtäri only in certain regions of Finland, as we can see in the figure below.

Web Traffic

Ähtärizoo.fi has a positive web traffic. However the score is only 63.1/100 which means there’s space for further improvements. It’s highly recommended to optimize images for Ähtäri website because it’s very important to search engines. In this way the webpage will be easier to find by users and stand out. Images can include an accurate text description no longer than 150 characters including spaces. The text should include the most descriptive keywords. Website titles should be optimized by creating a unique title for each page avoiding duplication. Titles should be 70 characters or less (including spaces). The brand should only be placed first on the homepage of the website.
A blog plays a key role in Digital Marketing. By sharing stories and providing good content, Ähtäri Zoo's online reputation increases. This helps to reach the top results on Serch Engines like Google.
Ähtärizoo.fi should be optimized to render on the most popular devices. Site speed is an important factor for ranking in Google search result. Load time affects not only visitors engagement, but also the ranking. Ähtärizoo.fi took 3.18 seconds to load which is, unfortunately, too slow. Load time should be less than a second.

Overall online shares

In the figure above we can see 2 examples of what social media were chosen to share content related to Ähtäri Zoo. In this case, content is created with backlinks (people or webpages talking about a certain topic, in this case Ähtäri). News related to Ähtäri were shared mainly on Facebook (1.300 times in the first example and 800 in the second one). Content was shared a few times on Twitter and never in other social media.

Competitors on social media - Korkeasaari Zoo

One of the most valuable tools to understand Ähtäri’s online performance is to analyze one of their key competitors which is in this case Korkeasaari Zoo, starting from Facebook. As we can see on a scale from 0 to 100 Korkeasaari's review is 72 which is a good result. Recommendations are once again similar to many other pages. It’s highly recommended to interact with fans, create a Facebook campaign and review the length of the posts. Interaction is one of the most important tools and what people are looking for. Making questions and answer to posts give the impression that a company is more “human”. These valuable information can be used for Ähtäri Zoo's Facebook page as well.

Web Traffic of Korkeasaari Zoo

Korkeasaari.fi website performance.
Optimizing website content is at the umost importance. It was recommended also for korkeasaari.fi. These instrucitons can be used for Ähtäri Zoo as well.
Load time of korkeasaari.fi was very fast. As a matter of fact, it was under a second (0.53 seconds). Site speed is very important for ranking high in every Search Engine.

Instagram

Instagram is the best tool for whatever is considered “visual”. Both Ähtäri and Korkeasaari Zoo owns an Instagram profile. However Korkeasarri has more followers. Instagram is valuable because people can post their own picture taken at the zoo. In this way, customer create part of marketing. Korkeasaari Zoo follows less people but posts more. In addtion, some of their picture convey a story. Creating a story and sharing events attract more followers. Korkeasaari is engaging people by making questions.
Ähtäri Zoo Instagram page has 1.135 followers against 8.798 of Korkeasaari Zoo.
Example of storytelling from Korkeasaari's Instagram profile.
Even though Ähtäri’s Instagram profile is visual, pictures are not as engaging as the ones of Korkeasaari Zoo (see above). Short “behind the scene” videos should be added. People will enjoy seeing how the staff at the zoo works. The same concept can be used for the F&B facilities (e.g. restaurants), fast videos can be created by using “Hyperlapse”. Followers will watch a “backstage” video of the restaurant and see how food is plated.

YouTube

Videos are very important for companies. Just like other social media, YouTube gives the opportunity to create stories and see the company from a different angle. YouTube is a big reality. Many companies that are active on Facebook and/or Instagram, are also active in this channel. A video that shows a day at Ähtäri gives the feeling that a company is not distant. It provides “human touch”. Even though Ähtäri Zoo has a YouTube channel, there are only 7 videos. The last one was uploaded 10 months ago There was only 1 video with interviews with the staff of Ähtäri Zoo. In addition, Ähtäri Zoo has only 63 subscribers. Korkeasaari Zoo has a strong presence on YouTube. Their videos include interviews, stories, important events and also a few videos in english (see figure above).
Videos of Korkeasaari are uploaded more frequently, in return their channel has 2.553 subscribers as they are more active and create more content. Other suggestions for Ähtäri Zoo YouTube channel include having links to website and other social media on the cover image and a playlist of different categories.

Twitter

Twitter is the final step for a successful social media marketing strategy. One of the key to success is to craete a good presentation of who you are and what you represent. Korkeasaari Zoo is more active on Twitter and has 993 followers, 963 tweets, 745 likes and is following 209 Twitter profiles. Their account is used for promotions or to share events, stories or videos.
By creating good content on Twitter, there are high possibilities that followers retweet your promotion. Followers create marketing and attract more people. At the moment the Twitter account for Ähtäri Zoo is not used. It’s following 12 profiles and has only 120 followers. The last tweet was posted in 2015.

Hootsuite for social media

Social profiles can be easily managed by using a tool called “Hootsuite”. This type of website helps to track follower growth and which contents are more effective with your audience. Hootsuite is also used to schedule content to post throughout the day or week. In other words, you can take care of your social media activities from the same dashboard. By using Hootsuite, companies are more likely to respond to posts and increase engagement rate as they can follow all social media at the same time and choose what to publish. Last but not least, this free tool is used to monitor mentions, comments and measure the impact of your social media campaign.

Web Search Statistics

It’s very important to remember that even though Korkeasaari Zoo is more popular on social media in Finland, Ähtäri still got more web searches by users in the past 12 months as we can see in the figure above where Ähtär Zooi is marked in blue. However, web searches and social media perfomance don’t always go together as people might think. One of the reasons why Korkeasaari Zoo has more fans/followers despite their lower web search ranking is because people don’t need to search on Google a company they are already following on a social media. It’s very common that people just log in to their Facebook profile and search Korkeasaari Zoo from there.
Areas in Finland where people made most searches about Ähtäri Zoo or related queries in 2016.

As Ähtäri Zoo is going through major changes, (new F&B services) they can be used to increase people’s attention. Therefore, Digital Marketing plays a key role in this perspective. Attracting more customer through “organic” (free) content is at the utmost importance to beat competitors and at the same time improve their SEO performance (search engine optimization). By generating good content and engaging your followers/fans, Ähtäri Zoo can reach the top on search engines.

Major efforts should be put on Facebook. Whenever viewers are posting questions or sharing pictures, it’s highly recommended to answer and make them feel that Ähtäri Zoo cares about their opinion or feedback. Other platforms like YouTube, Instagram or Twitter should be used to support Facebook and the webpage. All these social media should be combined together to create a unique communication system. In addition, Hootsuite can be used to control all the platforms from the same interface.

The webpage should be improved with a simple graphic, visual pictures and links to other social media. As mentioned above, it’s highly recommended to have a blog that include storytelling. A blog is also the best way to get closer to customers by informing them about upcoming events. Finally, ähtärizoo.fi should have a developed interface in English, Swedish and Russian that contains the same amount of information available in Finnish

Credits:

Created with images by Mike Johnston - "Giant Panda" • LeonL - "." • playlight55 - "Sleeping Panda"

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