Marketing a Zoo in Music City, with Jim Bartoo

Episode 175

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Jim Bartoo has been the director of marketing and public relations at Nashville Zoo since 1999. During that time, he has seen the Zoo grow from local awareness to national and international recognition with more than 1.2 million guests visiting in 2019. Before coming to Nashville, Jim spent seven years marketing the Columbus Zoo in Columbus, OH. He is accomplished in all aspects of marketing and communications initiatives across the Zoo’s owned, earned and paid platforms. Jim lives in the Bellevue area (southwest Nashville) with his wife Carole and two daughters, Emma and Grace. In this episode of Destination on the Left, Jim Bartoo, the Marketing and Public Relations Manager of the Nashville Zoo, joins us to share his story. He discusses the challenges of marketing a zoo when the destination brand experience is Music City, and he shares the creative solutions his organization has developed to fit into Nashville’s brand.

What You Will Learn in This Episode:

  • How Nashville Zoo’s Expedition Peru exhibit received top honors in exhibit design by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums
  • Why the women’s bathroom at the Expedition Peru exhibit as well as the men’s room in the Zoo’s Entry Village were named America’s Best Bathrooms by Cintas in 2019
  • Jim Bartoo’s journey to becoming the Marketing and Public Relations Manager of the Nashville Zoo
  • How Jim’s role has changed over twenty years with Nashville Zoo
  • What Jim and his team have done to help the Nashville Zoo stand out from the crowd
  • Why Nashville Zoo shifted its focus from the local market to the visitor market a couple of years ago
  • Why construction can create a negative effect on your visitor audience
  • How the Nashville Zoo went from a work-in-progress to a full-fledged destination
  • How Jim’s team responds to actionable visitor reviews

Nashville Zoo

Jim Bartoo is the Marketing and Public Relations Manager of the Nashville Zoo. He is a lighthearted and enlightening individual who brings so much value to the table. Amidst the Coronavirus pandemic, a light-hearted conversation that doesn’t harp on the widespread panic is a much-needed change of pace. Jim discusses the challenges of marketing a zoo when the destination brand experience is Music City, and he shares the creative solutions his organization has developed to fit into Nashville’s brand. His perspective on partnerships and collaborations are invaluable, and he has helped bring more than 1.2 million visitors through the gates in the last year.

Adaptive Marketing

Nashville has a large tourism market and visitors have a certain expectation when they travel there. Being a zoo in the market has been very challenging, but Jim has learned a lot in his twenty years there. At first, it was about letting people know they were there in the first place. The marketing efforts were initially designed to get the local populace over to the zoo to sample what was going on. Discounted or free admission, promotional events, and fundraisers were just some of the ways they managed to draw traffic. But as things progressed, Jim and his team were able to focus on promoting specific exhibits and events at the zoo itself. People became more familiar with it over time, but that does not detract from the challenge Jim faced in separating the zoo from the city.

Becoming a Destination

When you talk about destination marketing, everything is very brand-centric. DMOs are responsible for fulfilling the brand experience they create and ensuring that the experience a visitor has circles back to the brand itself. But that is difficult to achieve when your experience is not complete. Nashville Zoo struggled to wow visitors while major exhibits were being built because the guests felt as though they were missing out on something. When the Expedition Peru exhibit was completed, however, visitors could finally navigate a continuous circuit of attractions. Jim shifted the marketing focus from building anticipation and began to construct the identity of the zoo as a destination. The zoo is not a place for live music or drinking, so they are not the poster child of the Music City brand. But their hard work and creative marketing have put them on the map anyway.

Nicole Mahoney: 00:19 Hello listeners, Paul Mahoney, host of destination on the left. Welcome to this week’s episode with another interesting guest, Jim BARR to marketing and public relations manager of the Nashville zoo. I found this conversation enlightening and entertaining. Jim is full of really great metaphors, which is exactly the type of lighthearted conversation that we needed when this was recorded during the coven 19 pandemic. Although we were in the midst of navigating through the unknown of this crisis, our conversation does not dwell on the crisis. I enjoyed learning from Jim about the challenges of marketing a zoo when the destination brand experience is music city and his really creative solutions that his organization has come up with to fit into that brand. Jim has a great perspective on collaboration partnerships that I know you will find interesting. A little more about Jim bar too. He has been the director of marketing and public relations at Nashville zoo since 1999 during that time, he has seen the zoo grow from local awareness to national and international recognition with more than one point [inaudible] million guests visiting in 2019 before coming to Nashville, Jim spent seven years marketing the Columbus zoo in Columbus, Ohio.

Nicole Mahoney: 01:43 He has accomplished and all aspects of marketing and communications initiatives across the zoos, [inaudible] earned and paid platforms. Jim lives in the Bellevue area, Southwest Nashville with his wife, Carol and two daughters, Emma and grace. One of my favorite metaphors that Jim shared when describing his job, he compared it to an elevator. He explained the responsibilities have changed over as 20 years, but the room has always stayed the same. More about that in the interview. Let’s dive in. Jim, thank you so much for joining us on destination on the left. We are so excited to learn from you today and we just love our zoos and can’t wait to hear all about what’s happening in Nashville. Um, but before we get started, can you tell us a little bit more about you and your journey and how you got to where you are today? Sure. Yeah. You know, like most people, when you think about zoos and you think about careers in zoos, nobody really thinks about the business end of the zoo. They always think it’s keepers feeding animals and taking care of the park. And that’s pretty much it. Okay. Kinda had the same notion about zoos pretty much all the way through college, majored in advertising.

Nicole Mahoney: 03:00 Mmm.

Jim Bartoo: 03:00 I got one of my first jobs that I got to college was actually working in television news. Um, I couldn’t find much in the advertising world. So I picked up this job in TV news, working in promotions. Um, and then I moved over to the news department and help them. Mmm. Organize the news department, fine. Uh, satellite feeds and things like that. I learned how to edit and at that point, yeah, we’re still editing tape to tape. So, uh, I did that for three years and really liked it. I didn’t see myself doing that, um, for a living for the rest of my life. During that time, I met a, a beautiful young woman who worked in TV news as well, and she and I moved up to Columbus, Ohio. And at that point I was going to change my career, started looking at advertising again, still not finding a whole lot of luck.

Jim Bartoo: 03:53 Uh, so I picked up a part time job at the Columbus zoo, uh, up there. [inaudible] and I spent a summer doing the kind of things that kids, uh, in high school and in college do. I, I drove the train. I, uh, I worked at the [inaudible] front gate checking in school groups. I rented strollers. I was the [inaudible] first mate on a tiny little [inaudible], both that ran up and down the river. It was, um, probably one of the best summers of my life. A really, really great a job, but Mmm. Not a whole lot of challenge. Okay. Mentally. But it was, um, it was a great job that gave me a chance to really get engaged with customer services. Um, and during that time I realized that the zoo actually had a marketing department that was fairly large. Um, this is the zoo or Jack Hanna is from and in is pretty well known across the country is a big zoo person, big animal person.

Jim Bartoo: 04:49 Um, so they had a huge video library and almost everything they had was, um, tape and, uh, they had an editing deck that was donated to them from a TV station, but nobody in the marketing department knew how to work it. So I went in one day and told them I know how to operate that thing and they hired me soon after that to organize their video library and become basically their video person. So that’s how I initially got in to working at a zoo. Um, from there I made myself as useful as possible. I started getting into organizing events. I learned a lot about sponsorships and how businesses will pay money to get their logo on things. Um, I, uh, absorbed as much as I could. And during that process, that beautiful young TV person and I got married, we had it child, we wanted to move closer to homes.

Jim Bartoo: 05:42 So we targeted Nashville is an ideal location. My family’s from Chattanooga and her family is from st Louis. So Nashville was a great place in between. It was a big enough city, two, uh, to support her work as a health reporter. Mmm. And I had heard that Nashville zoo had just recently moved from outside of the city about 45 minutes outside of town, um, to about seven miles South of the city center and um, about one mile North of the richest County in the state. And then we’re going to be building up brand new zoo from the ground up. I’m on this location and I immediately knew that that was going to be a tremendous opportunity for Nashville. So aye, uh, went down and met with them. They happened to be looking for a marketing director at that time and I was fortunate enough to be hired in that position and I have held that title [inaudible] [inaudible] desk that I’ve been at for 20 years.

Jim Bartoo: 06:46 I literally have not moved in the 20 years that I’ve been there. Um, but my, my job has drastically grown over time. Um, and that’s kind of where I am today. That’s awesome. I love, I love that story. And yeah. Um, actually love as the operative word because it actually has a love story, which I think is really cool. Yeah, it is. Yeah. No, I’ve loved it. I always loved animals and I think a lot of people do, but I’m just following that curiosity Mmm. About what you want to do in life is really kind of what I pass along to everybody and that’s what’s worked well for me. So I would encourage other people to just kind of follow what you really love and eventually the work and the pay will follow. Yeah. I think that’s a fabulous advice. Um, and then I also really like how you have, you know, come from the ground up, first of all at the Columbus zoo, working your way from that part time job with all of that guests, you know, guest interaction and guest experience, you know, the understanding of just really what the whole zoo experience is about and the discovery of, Oh yes, you just have to market.

Jim Bartoo: 07:54 There is a business aspect to a zoo and, and your ability to get into the marketing [inaudible] there and learn and as you said, absorb everything that you could. Yeah. And then fast forward, you moved to Nashville and again, it’s a ground up kind of job time literally, right? Yeah. Involved in the building of a, of a zoo from the ground up. Exactly. Yeah. Yeah. And I think that’s just really fantastic and gives you such great active. Um, and I also have to comment, I mean 20 years at the same desk, but you’re right, I am sure your job has changed immensely. I mean, just marketing and communications in general over the last 20 years have morphed so many times. Yeah. And I’m not, you know, I, I never really, I was never really one to think that I needed a title change every few years to make myself feel better.

Jim Bartoo: 08:44 You know, as long as I was engaged in something that I really loved, something that I found challenging day after day, Mmm [inaudible] something that, that paid well enough for me to be able to support myself and my family. I was comfortable with that and have been comfortable with that. And really that’s, that’s part of it as well. If you’re somebody that [inaudible] feels like you need to climb some kind of a ladder, then [inaudible] working at [inaudible] [inaudible] at this Sue may not be for you because that we just haven’t really been structured that way. Um, but I see myself more like on an elevator where I’m [inaudible] my responsibilities rise, but my, the room that I’m in never really changes. [inaudible]

Nicole Mahoney: 09:26 that’s a great metaphor. I love that irresponsibilities rise. But, uh, the room that you’re in doesn’t change. I think that’s a, that’s a terrific metaphor. So, uh, Jim, the, you know, on this show is we talked in our pre-interview chat, we really like to focus in on creative everything in collaboration. And I want to dive into this first question. I, I know you’ll have so many interesting insights for us and just really understanding how very competitive it is. Uh, you know, tourism and hospitality industry. Um, there are so many choices of experiences out there and so I’m really curious to hear some of the things that you have done to really help the Nashville zoo and the out from the crowd.

Jim Bartoo: 10:09 Yeah, that’s a great question. And particularly with Nashville, um, it’s kind of a tourism market. Um, and there’s expectations that people have when they come into Nashville. Mmm. So being a, a zoo in the market and more, more particular being a new zoo in the market has been very challenging. Mmm. When I first got started, it was letting [inaudible] people know that we were here to begin with and, and more specifically letting local people know that we were in town and that we had a zoo that was really growing and expanding. So the marketing efforts in the beginning, we’re really more, uh, focused on just getting people over to the zoo to sample what was going on. Um, and we did that various different ways. Anything from significantly reduced pricing or even free days out of the zoo just to get people to sample wolves out there to introducing, uh, events that had really nothing to do with the zoo itself.

Jim Bartoo: 11:13 But people found interesting to go out and, and cover like a run or a walk or something like that. We offered, um, some nonprofits a chance to be able to do there five mile walk, their fundraising walks out of the zoo, just to give people a chance to be able to come out and walk through the zoo and say, Hey, that’s, this is, this is interesting. We may want to come out here another time and actually spend some time visiting some of these exhibits. So that was, that was kind of the beginning. And then as we became more well known, Mmm [inaudible] cut back on a lot of that and started promoting some other things that we had that we had to offer. Uh, and then separating ourselves, kind of, uh, the city itself has been, has been a challenge in itself. Um, and, and really we don’t face the kind of competition that’s, say a restaurant would face in a heavy restaurant town.

Jim Bartoo: 12:08 Um, because we’re really the only zoo in Nashville, so we can set ourselves apart as something else that people can do while they’re in Nashville. What’s harder is to let those people know that there is something else to do in Nashville. Um, the brand for Nashville as music city lends itself to kind of an idea about what people can expect while they’re here. Mmm. When you talk about destination marketing, does a lot of talk about brand and about fulfilling that brand and making sure that the experiences that people have relate back to the brand itself? Well, it’s a zoo doesn’t really have a lot of music. Um, and they, they’re, we don’t sell alcohol, so we’re not really a place a bar that you would go to listen to music. Um, or a music venue itself. We’re really not the poster child of [inaudible], the music city brand. And that has been challenging for us to be able to kind of make tourists know that we are here for many years because we were building [inaudible] kind of felt like we weren’t ready to really let people know that yet. We were really focused on the local market. And it isn’t until about two years ago [inaudible] changed and we’re now starting to reach out to that tourism market.

Nicole Mahoney: 13:29 Why, um, can you, can you talk a little bit about that? Why the change in focus, you know, a few years ago to start including the visitor market,

Jim Bartoo: 13:37 we got to a point where the construction at the zoo was clear enough that we felt like we could present ourselves as, um, as a complete zoo as a zoo where people could come and really spend enough time to make it worthwhile. When we first started your visit around the zoo might have been 45 minutes, half an hour or something like that. Okay. And then over the past 10 years or so, uh, uh, really more like five or six years or so, we’ve had a significant amount of construction at the zoo. That’s kind of blocked off several areas. And although there’s a lot of exhibits still to see there, the, the optics of it, the presentation. Mmm. Made it look like there was still a lot that was under construction and people’s beliefs were, well the bear exhibit is under construction. So it really wasn’t, you know, and, and this exhibit was under construction.

Jim Bartoo: 14:34 So it really, I, I wish all those things that had been open cause I’d love to be able to see them. What was harder to convey is that the bear exhibit, the tiger exhibit [inaudible] all these exhibits that were under construction didn’t exist before. It’s not like they could have come two years prior and those exhibits, because at that point they were just woods or field or nothing was there. But when you put up a fence line and start building something, the assumption is, is that it was there before. We’re just constructing it now. So building from the ground up and letting people know it’s growing and expanding has a different effect when people are walking around the zoo and just seeing fence line in a lot of places where they’re walking. It’s a disappointment to see construction because you feel like you’re missing out on something.

Jim Bartoo: 15:23 When prior that missing out wasn’t it really even there, it was not there to begin with. So [inaudible] and having it not there to begin with is almost better because people don’t know what they’re missing. But when you put a construction fence up, people know what they’re missing and that interpretation of that is can be negative. So the reviews of people that are visiting tends to be lower. Um, we didn’t want to push more people through the gate to add to that review. Knowing that in the future [inaudible] we were hoping that that review would increase and influence those three and a half stars to four stars, to five stars as people are moving through that process.

Nicole Mahoney: 16:05 [inaudible] I think that’s a really astute point that you just made. Um, you know, there is that perception, uh, you know, when you’re in someplace and you see things under construction, I mean it’s, I can think of it even at amusement parks, Disneyworld for example. Right. You know, something new is coming, but you think, Oh, if I had only waited then to come, I’m really missing out.

Jim Bartoo: 16:26 Right. Yeah. And that’s what we don’t, you know, we don’t, we don’t necessarily want people to wait, but at the same time, we’re not really pushing. Now is the time to come to the zoo. We wanted to wait and say [inaudible] and be ready for that now time. And that really changed when, Mmm. We opened [inaudible] expedition Peru, them the bearings of it because it made the, the trails complete. You could walk around

Nicole Mahoney: 16:52 yeah.

Jim Bartoo: 16:52 In a complete trail circle without having to double back because something was blocked off or you ran into a dead end some way or you were walking across moderate dirt or gravel or something like that to get from one point to another. [inaudible] um, a lot of that disappeared after we opened up bear. So it was at that point that we decided, all right, let’s start changing our focus from a local community. Support your zoo. This is great. Things are calming [inaudible] um, this is a destination now. Now you can spend three to four hours here. Mmm. Seeing all these great exhibits and yeah, we may have this little construction that’s happening over here, but that’s going to open in March. And then people can start to see things a little bit differently when they start being able to see all the great stuff that we’re creating as a result of this construction.

Jim Bartoo: 17:47 So the messaging changes little bit to be the zoo is really building something spectacular. [inaudible] this is better than any zoo I’ve seen prior. Yeah, absolutely. [inaudible] I love how you talked about how, you know, you’re so conscientious about the guest experience and what they’re seeing and what their perception is, but then you also tied it right into a, um, I, you know, marketing objective, if you will, when you talked about the reviews. Yeah. How important those, you know, that social proof is, or those reviews are Mmm. Your ability to get more visitors. And so I’m curious if you can talk a little bit about what you do or how you manage those types of reviews. Uh, do you do anything to encourage them or you just talked a little bit about what you do in that area? You know, we don’t, um, I, you know, I, I’d like to say that we go in and, you know, respond to any kind of review one way or another, or even just responding to the reviews that tend to be a little more negative to try to explain ourselves.

Jim Bartoo: 18:48 But we don’t, we don’t really do a lot of that. What we’ve found is that a lot of people that support us will do that for us on go in and say, you know, I don’t agree with you when you say that this doesn’t have this, this and this. You obviously have missed something along the way. Um, so a lot of that kind of self manages itself or that’s what we’ve found anyway. Mmm. We don’t really push a lot of reviews. So everything that you’re going to see online is pretty organic. We don’t encourage people to give us positive reviews, we don’t incentivize them to do that, um, for us. So yeah, I wish I could tell you that we had great strategy behind all that. We just simply don’t. Yeah, we just haven’t really done any of that. Now that may change in the future, but our reviews are [inaudible] making a significant swing upwards, particularly in the past couple of years because we’ve pointed now towards the tourism market.

Jim Bartoo: 19:45 So that really is kind of taking care of itself. [inaudible] I think that’s fantastic. And, and I, um, thank you for being honest about how you manage that. I think it’s just, I important for our listeners, I’m sure that heard you make that mention. They’re probably thinking, well, I don’t know, what should I be doing for my reviews? And, and I think that’s a great point when you can have a, your own, uh, ambassadors, if you will, are people who really love the zoo kind of stick up for you or respond to things. It’s much better being peer to peer it and it coming from, you know, from an official at the zoo itself. So I think that’s great. Yeah. And I mean, you can work on, you can work on having your supporters help you out and try, I guess you could try that tactic and try to get people to go out and, and support you out in the ether for something like that. I think the most important thing that you can do to affect reviews is deliver your brand, um, effectively. So if you’re not delivering what you’re promising to people, those reviews are going to that. So that’s what you need to do is to make sure that of the marketing that you’re putting out there, what you’re delivering in return for that really is going to reflect in what people are saying about you.

Nicole Mahoney: 20:58 [inaudible] absolutely. So I wanted to circle back also to something you said earlier, cause I’m, I’m curious what things you’re doing, but I also thought it was really in tune, uh, of you to mention in tune. Oh no. On words about the, uh, about the music city brands. Yeah. And the challenge, um, you know, that you have, in terms of trying to fit into that. So are there things that you have done either to fit into that brand or other strategies that you have tried?

Jim Bartoo: 21:29 Mmm,

Nicole Mahoney: 21:29 you know, to, to really market to that visitor market.

Jim Bartoo: 21:33 Yeah. And I’m glad you’ve mentioned that because we do recognize that and we’ve, we’ve been working on different ways to be able to tie into the music city brand, but yet still be ourselves and be the Nashville zoo. So, uh, [inaudible] really in our terms, you really have to kind of become uniquely Nashville in some way. Um, for us, we started using, Mmm. Uh, the first creative that we did, uh, well some billboards that we put out and we started using animal names as parodies for famous country music or famous music stars. So we had a, uh, we had a billboard that featured Tim McCall instead of Tim McCraw, which is, I’m going to cause a big [inaudible]. [inaudible].

Jim Bartoo: 22:22 Um, so we had Tim McCall on a billboard and the billboard would say, Tim McCall appearing live daily at the zoo. Um, and then we have the zoo logo. We had a zebra McEntire instead of Riva. Um, we had a little Jimmy Gibbons, which is a, a given is a kind of an ape. So we had all these different [inaudible] parodies of country music stars on billboards, but they work, they were animals that were on the billboards. Mmm. And those were really cute. The city loved those. We put them in print ads. We put her in, in tourism ads around town. Mmm. Last year we started, uh, a new billboard program called [inaudible]. Mmm. Welcome to music kitty instead of music city. So we haven’t giant cause we opened up a tiger exhibit. So we had a giant tiger on the billboard and it had, uh, welcome to music kitty kind of program.

Jim Bartoo: 23:14 So everybody that was driving into town that recognizes Nashville is music city. Saw it as a parody, recognize that there’s also a zoo in town and saw the tie into, to the city itself. And those kind of cut through the, the clutter as it relates to everything. Music. [inaudible] Nashville. Um, this year we have billboards up, uh, that say, meet our hot chickens because Nashville is known as the hot chicken, please. Yep. Hot chicken. Yeah, I had my hat chicken when I was in Nashville. That’s right. Everybody has, so we have a billboard up now that says meet our hot chickens and it’s some, it’s, it’s a graphic of flamingos in the sun, um, which we’d have a big flock of flamingos at the zoo. So we’re kind of, we’re kind of continuing with these parodies of what [inaudible] Nashville is famous for and turning it back to being the zoo.

Jim Bartoo: 24:09 So it’s, it’s famous for its hot chicken. Yeah. There’s a zoo here as well that has hot chickens, right. That’s kind of just an [inaudible] an interesting parody. So, and we’ll probably continue with a lot of that stuff because it does make a debt. People love it. Um, coming into town, people love it that already live here in town because people live here in town or are very aware of our, of the city’s brand and, and like it when we kind of [inaudible] a little fun at ourselves to be able to say, okay, well this is another way to be able to look at us being uniquely Nashville. Absolutely. I love that approach. And, um, humor is sometimes very difficult to pull off and it sounds like, you know, you’re pulling it off really, really well and, and, uh, what a creative way to be able to tie into that brand.

Jim Bartoo: 24:55 I think that’s really awesome. Oh, thanks. Yeah. Okay. So, um, are there any exciting projects that you’re working on now that you would like to share with our listeners? Wow. Exciting projects. Well, um, I think this, um, the, the, the virus tunnel that we’ve been in for quite some time now is going to, is going to be challenging to be able to reintroduce the zoo, both [inaudible] nationally. So that’s going to be a big challenge for us. I am looking forward to reintroducing our zoo lumination project again, um, in the fall that’ll be coming back out. So, Oh, that’s something very interesting. Um, and we have, um, we have an idea about another big events that Nashville’s never seen before. And I’m sorry that I teased you with it because I can’t really talk about it. All right. I don’t think we’re there yet. So you have to watch for it.

Jim Bartoo: 25:52 I know you will. Yeah. Okay. Absolutely. Well, you know, I, I, um, I think that’s great and I appreciate you, um, you know, mentioning the virus tunnel because you and I talked about it in the pre-interview chat that we’re really, uh, not going to focus so much on that at this point cause we’re in the middle of that tunnel. Um, but, uh, you know, for listeners to know this is being recorded and in the middle of March and, or quite a bit do you, things happening. And so when I do love though about that is that you describe it as a tunnel and tunnels have an end and there’s a light usually at the end. And so to be able to be forward thinking, and I think looking to the future in those projects that even if you can’t announce them, um, that you’re still working towards those, I think is a really important point and a really important lesson.

Jim Bartoo: 26:42 So, yeah, and for me, you know, I kind of visualize it as a marketing person. You’re always looking kind of down the road and what’s coming down the road. Um, and the, the [inaudible] the virus has been [inaudible] particularly challenging because you can’t see, you can’t see into a dark tunnel, you don’t know well, it’s coming right up in front of you. So you ha you just kind of have to wait for it. That change on a day by day basis. But when you see the light at the end of the tunnel, you can focus on that. And when we see the light at the end of this virus tone, when we see all right, it looks like we’re going to be coming out of this thing at a set point in time. That’s when you can start planning too, reintroduce people to the value of a membership and the value of coming out to the zoo and getting outside and being with family and [inaudible], uh, enjoying the wonders of nature and everything else that the zoo has to offer. And you can start putting in your messaging and your creative and placing your ads and planning your E news and planning your social media around that light at the end of the tunnel because that’s what you’re focusing on when everybody says, okay, it’s safe to come back out. What are we going to do?

Nicole Mahoney: 27:52 [inaudible] absolutely. And you want to be prepared, uh, prepared for that. So I think that’s really a great point. The gym, I knew this would be a great conversation and, and you’ve shared so much already, but I want to make sure that we also touch on the topic of collaboration cause it’s a, uh, something that I think is just so important, um, not only in, in our industry, but even in [inaudible] uncertain and changing times to be able to, to collaborate I think just makes us all stronger. And so I’m wondering if there are any collaborations that come to mind,

Jim Bartoo: 28:25 are you,

Nicole Mahoney: 28:26 it had been particularly successful and if you could share, um, with our audience, you know, what those experiences were.

Jim Bartoo: 28:33 Sure. Um, we collaborate regularly with the CVC. Um, we have an ongoing ticketing program. I’m with them. That’s fairly successful. Uh, we also, they do a, um, they do a backstage pass or it, uh, okay. A VIP all access, something like that. It’s, um, it’s basically a [inaudible] a pass that you buy for a certain amount of money and you get to select, uh, three or four different attractions within that past that you can visit. So you get a discount deal by buying in bulk, but you have the flexibility of choosing which of the attractions you want to go see out of the 20 or 30 attractions that are on the list. Um, and that’s been very successful for us because we’re one of the top attractions in town. Mmm. Uh, so we see a lot of people take advantage of that and work through, um, the city to be able to buy these bulk packaging.

Jim Bartoo: 29:28 We did something very similar during the holidays when we introduced our Chinese lantern of event back in November. We worked with the city to do a package that included a couple other venues in town, also offering [inaudible] holiday like programs. Um, that also did very well for the zoo. And it did okay for the other organizations as well. So these are both really simple, straightforward collaboration projects that everybody thinks about. Um, what’s more difficult for us is to figure out collaborations outside of that ticketing platform that may benefit organizations across the board. Um, I’ve met multiple times with the adventure science center, which is a okay indoor science, hands on science place here in Nashville and Cheekwood which is a botanical garden here in town, um, about doing some kind of collaboration. Is it as it relates to membership and people being able to use a single pass to enter all three of those, um, organizations.

Jim Bartoo: 30:37 And is there a way that we can work together with that? And the problem with it is that everybody wants to do it, but nobody wants to be cannibalize their own membership base in the process of doing that. And that’s been, that’s been problematic. We haven’t really been able to find a solution, uh, as simple as a trio chicken ticket package that you buy in bulk. We can’t really find a trio membership package that you buy in bulk and have everybody succeed over that. Because the discount [inaudible] too great for us too. [inaudible] [inaudible] bye Don. Yeah. And we’re afraid that some people, we’re afraid that people would be moving away from the price that they’re paying for membership on an individual basis to the membership that they’re getting a discount on. Yeah. That’s interesting. But when I do, I do like about that is how you have identified these partners you’ve identified, you know, a common a need if you L um, and that you’re trying to work towards a solution.

Jim Bartoo: 31:38 I think that really just shows a really good kind of out of the box, you know, thinking right. Of trying to discover ways that that might work. Yeah. And one of the things that we’re doing now, particularly with, um, the adventure science center in Cheekwood is I’ve been in discussions with, I’m the marketing folks over there is possibly looking at Mmm. [inaudible] our expectations, our goals in what we want to accomplish as a partnership. Maybe that isn’t, Mmm. A straight up income basis. You know, a lot, a lot of goals that businesses have and a lot of, particularly a lot of goals that nonprofits have [inaudible] community relations. They want to be a valuable part of the community because that’s what sustains them is that kind of support. People move into Nashville, live in the Nashville and they see that the zoo is important aspect of the community and Cheekwood in the adventure science center and all these great places to visit.

Jim Bartoo: 32:37 It’s important to kind of reinforce that back into the community. And that isn’t always sales. So we might want to revisit this and look at it in terms of is there something that we can do together in the community that doesn’t have to do with making money? Can we go out and do a Creek cleanup? Can we go out and do some kind of, um, education program for underserved families or education programs that everybody can take advantage, but we can work together on, um, and get, uh, maybe even up an outside party support to be able to operate that. But it isn’t really something that we are, any of us are making a tremendous amount of money on it. It’s just something that we are offering up to the community that we’re working together on that shows partnership, collaboration and community support. So we’re kind of in the process of that right now to try and figure out if that’s, if that’s possible and what are mission statements look like and what we can do to work together to accomplish that.

Nicole Mahoney: 33:41 Yeah. I think that’s great. I, I mean, I think that’s a phenomenal example of, you know, coming together and collaborating, looking for that common

Jim Bartoo: 33:50 go on.

Nicole Mahoney: 33:51 And I love that it doesn’t necessarily have to be revenue driven.

Jim Bartoo: 33:54 That’s right.

Nicole Mahoney: 33:55 Yeah. I think that’s, that’s fabulous way to think about it.

Jim Bartoo: 33:58 Yeah. Particularly for nonprofits because you know, we’re, we’re a business like everybody else. We think about how we’re going to [inaudible] continue to operate just like any business does. Mmm. We just fold our money back into the operation itself. So it’s important for nonprofits to look back at their mission every now and then say, are we doing what we can to be able to achieve that mission? And is there something we can be doing together with [inaudible] several nonprofits [inaudible] help with that.

Nicole Mahoney: 34:29 Yeah, absolutely. And how, how did you, um, first go about starting these conversations? Was this something that, uh, you know, that was driven by you or, or where you are then from sort of a networking function that just got the idea sparked? Um, I, I think it’s really helpful for our listeners to hear how these kinds of things, just, how’d the conversation even starts.

Jim Bartoo: 34:53 A lot of it starts with just getting to know each other on a, on a person by person basis. And the CDC does a great job getting attractions together and hotels together and [inaudible] everybody involved in Mmm. The tourism business together. Um, either as a whole or in different sections to just kind of meet each other, talk about things that are, are problematic, talk about successes and, and share information. I’m in Nashville. I have found in, you know, honestly, I haven’t worked in a lot of different markets to be able to compare, but the people in Nashville seem to be very willing [inaudible] talk openly about what [inaudible] trouble spots are and what are shared [inaudible] goals are and really interested in working together to be able to make things better. And I think that’s a lot of it. It’s not so competitive that people hold their cards very tight to their chest.

Jim Bartoo: 35:49 Some do, but a lot of people are fine too. Talk about that openly with each other as am I and the people that [inaudible] [inaudible] [inaudible] folks at the adventure science center, we’re willing to sit down and say, we have, um, mutual goals and we have mutual audiences. Let’s find a way to be able to make that work. And that’s really where it starts is just getting to know each other. And if you, if you like each other and you get along together, then sit down and talk about ways that you might be able to work together as, as organizations.

Nicole Mahoney: 36:21 Absolutely. Really, really great points. Um, that whole, ah, delineation I guess of mutual goals and mutual audiences and, um, really trying to identify how you can work together. [inaudible] like you said earlier, it doesn’t necessarily have to be re revenue driven. There could be other things that might, that might make sense. Just being able to explore those options I think is great. So Jim, this has been a fantastic conversation. I so appreciate you taking some time with us. Do you have any final thoughts that you’d like to share with our listeners and then also if you could share where they might find you and the Nashville zoo?

Jim Bartoo: 37:02 [inaudible] I think, you know, I think we pretty well covered, um, everything that I think we wanted to talk about. Um, but you know, if anybody has any specific questions for me, you are welcome to reach out to me. I’m easily found on the zoo’s website, uh, Nashville There’s a contact us You can call the front desk and say, Hey, I want to talk to Jim. Mmm. The only gym at the zoo right now, so I should be pretty easy to find.

Nicole Mahoney: 37:38 Fantastic. Well, thank you so much and we’ll look forward to connecting with you again.

Jim Bartoo: 37:43 Yeah, thank you very much.

Nicole Mahoney: 37:45 Thank you for listening all the way to the end of this week’s episode. This gives me a chance to ask you for a favor. We have a goal to reach 100 ratings and reviews on our podcast by the end of 2020 we are already well on our way to meeting this goal. Need your help. I love sharing my interviews with you and if you enjoy them too, I would a greatly appreciate you giving us a rating and review. Click the iTunes or Stitcher link on destination on the or leave one right in your favorite app where you listen most often. It only takes a minute and your support means a lot.

Nicole Mahoney: 38:20 It’s time to hit the road again. Visit destination on the during your travels for more podcasts, show notes and fresh ideas. [inaudible] [inaudible].

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