As the current biodiversity crisis threatens more than a third of US wildlife, zoos and aquariums have adopted conservation, education, and animal welfare as driving missions behind their work as cultural institutions.

However, many zoos and aquariums face tension when it comes to leveraging this messaging and a crucial pillar of their organizational success: membership.

You probably don't need us to tell you that membership is vital for zoos and aquariums. Members are often more active supporters and advocates of zoos and aquariums than even the most frequent visitors. They’re often quicker to donate and attend events, have higher satisfaction rates, and recent research has shown that the ten-year value of the average member is 4.5x greater than the average visitor.

But, simultaneously, traditional membership processes can be expensive and arduous, taking time and resources away from the strategic work membership teams do, like member retention, acquisition, and engagement efforts. Many zoos, aquariums, and other cultural institutions are making the switch to digital passes – a future for membership that is not only a less costly, time-saving solution, but one that meaningfully progresses visitor attractions’ commitment to sustainability and conservation.

With an effort to save animals from endangerment and extinction both behind their gates and in the wild, plastic membership cards seem a stark contrast from their green initiatives. By eliminating plastic cards and making the switch to digital passes and mobile memberships, zoos and aquariums strengthen these commitments and have the opportunity to engage members in this life saving work as well.

Digital memberships do more for zoos’ and aquariums’ green initiatives than just reducing their plastic footprint. Here are 4 ways zoos and aquariums are furthering their commitment to sustainability and environmental protection.

Direct more funding toward animal care and conservation.

Zoos and aquariums are reliant on external funding via donations and grants in order to back the mission-critical efforts that keep them running. Funding that these institutions receive often must be divided into a plethora of ‘buckets’, from exhibit upkeep to marketing and membership to animal welfare.

Traditional membership card costs can feel like an unavoidable expense. The cost of producing and mailing physical membership cards is significant, and thus takes away from funding that could be put toward animal care and conservation initiatives.

By going digital, zoos and aquariums have an opportunity to eliminate much of the cost associated with memberships by moving away from costly production.

Give valuable time back to your team.

Traditional membership relies on tedious processes that take valuable time away from the often very small membership teams at visitor attractions. For many institutions, the workload that comes with creating, delivering, and maintaining traditional membership cards has become untenable.

Digital passes integrate with the ticketing and membership systems that organizations rely on (PassPlay integrates with Blackbaud, Centaman and Gateway, and is adding new partners all the time), making membership much more convenient not only for members but also for the teams that make it happen.

As we adopt more and more technology-based solutions into our workplaces to make processes run more smoothly and efficiently, it’s time to consider the ways digital membership can streamline the membership process from sign-up to renewal and every step in between.

Attract new members.

Millennials and Gen-Z say sustainability is one of their top concerns. When it comes to how they spend their money, they’re more consciously honed in on the sustainability efforts of the organizations they choose to support.

Because membership is a key source of revenue for zoos and aquariums, it’s important to be continually drawing in new visitors, especially from these younger generations, while simultaneously holding onto current ones.

A digital membership option is not only attractive to the more environmentally-conscious demographic of zoo visitors, but with PassPlay, it is also simple and seamless for older members interested in making the switch away from traditional plastic membership cards.

Drive engagement

Digital passes give zoos and aquariums the ability maximize member engagement at every step of the way. At sign up, members receive their card instantly and automatically, and they can store their pass right in their mobile wallet, so it’s always on hand and top-of-mind.

Each time they visit, they can rack up loyalty points, navigate a map right on their phone, and keep up to date with daily events and ongoings with an easy-to-explore calendar.

Even after their visit, attractions can further engage members off-site with timely push notifications that keep members informed and remind them when it’s time to renew their membership for another year.

Ready to make the switch?

Want to see it in action? We’d love to get you set up for a demo!

The PassPlay platform is brought to you by Speak Creative: a team of designers, developers and marketing strategists with more than 20 years of experience delivering digital solutions to cultural and visitor attractions. From education to conservation, and from membership engagement to donor relations, we understand the complex needs of attractions. PassPlay is an innovative new app that will make an undeniable impact for you and your guests.