Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center Selects US eDirect to Manage its Guest Management
State’s Largest Aquarium Will Adopt Recreation Dynamics to Improve its Reservation and Booking Programs
VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. July 20, 2021 – One of the nation’s leading aquariums has selected US eDirect to provide visitor and member management services application aimed at improving its ability to serve its more than 500,000 annual visitors.
The Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center will adopt Recreation Dynamics, the one-stop platform designed to manage the most dynamic and popular recreation and outdoor facilities.
“We are honored to be selected by the Virginia Aquarium and look forward to supporting the agency as it grows its visitorship and programs to serve its global community of visitors and members,” said Tony Alex, President and CEO, US eDirect.
“We already have a strong user base in Virginia and anticipate further growth as the Commonwealth emerges from the challenges of the pandemic and more people embrace traveling and attractions.”
The Virginia Aquarium will deploy Recreation Dynamics to primarily support its tickets sales and gift shop operations.
The aquarium joins the Fairfax County Parks and Recreation Department as another Virginia organization who trusts US eDirect and its signature product, Recreation Dynamics, to manage their daily visitor operations.
The Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center is an accredited member of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, and the Alliance of Marine Mammal Parks and Aquariums. The Aquarium is also a member of World Association of Zoos and Aquariums.
The Virginia Aquarium’s mission is to inspire conservation of the marine environment through education, research and sustainable practices.
The Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center Foundation, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, supports the work of the Virginia Aquarium.
The Foundation procures and maintains the Aquarium’s exhibits, including the animals and habitats. It is also responsible for annual and capital fundraising, administration and funding for the Virginia Aquarium Stranding Response Program, conservation and scientific research efforts, and the Aquarium’s mission-related education programs.
US eDirect is a privately held technology development firm established in 1999. From inception, our sole focus has been developing and delivering solutions to improve efficiencies for public park and recreation departments. Our clients include large U.S. and international agencies at the federal, provincial, regional, state, county, and municipal level.
Our solution, Recreation Dynamics, is a fully integrated system allowing a patron to book a ticket, enroll for a program, purchase a retail item all within the same shopping cart.
The efficiencies we deliver are all comprehensive, including comprehensive ticketing management capability.
Through this tool, the Agency can manage each ticketing requirement independently, with a specific, highly flexible set of business rules and configurations.
The ticketing functionality provides flexible options for the management of activities and general admission entry to tours, parking, and other tourist activities.
We operate tour and general entry for several customers, including the Hearst Castle California, Minnesota State Parks system’s tour sites, Missouri State Parks Underground Cave Tours, Nashville Metro Parks’ replica Greek Parthenon, the Library of Congress, and the United States Capitol Visitor Center in Washington, DC, which processes more than two million visitors per year.
Each of these customers has unique and vastly different sets of rules, and our solutions flex to meet their unique requirements.
US eDirect delivers these solutions via the following departments:
- Project Management Office (PMO) – aligns the company’s deliverables to the customer’s objectives and vision.
The PMO team works intimately with the customer project team and stakeholders and cross-collaborates with all departments in the company to mitigate risk and successfully drive the project
- Professional Services – includes analysts, data migration specialists, trainers, documenters, and other team members who help implement the solution with the related business process and culture changes. This team assists with internal quality assurance testing (QA) and guides User Acceptance Testing (UAT).
- Technical & Support – provides the IT, hosting, security, PCI, and related expertise to assure high SLA attainment. The “Tech” department provides solution architecture guidance to the project and development teams. In addition, the customer service Help Desk is a key component of this department.
- Development – comprises Scrum Team members who create software with the Agile development methodology. The product manager translates the customer’s functional requirements and vision for the development teams. The User Interface (UI) team assures the software is modern, clean, and attractive to assure ease of use and accessibility compliance. The QA team checks for proper delivery of software functionality and bugs.
- Marketing – helps deliver awareness of the company’s solution and value proposition to the municipal, county, state, and federal recreation sectors. The Marketing department drives the company’s RFP activities and assures that the response aligns with the customer requirements.
- Commercial – focuses on business development, sales, contracts, and partner management.
Ticketing is a functional component of Recreation Dynamics designed for high volume sales for ticketed tours and events. Not only does Ticketing facilitate sales, but it also offers additional tracking functionality after the sale is completed. Below are some of the key features:
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Our Ticketing module is used at some of the nation’s busiest parks and other governmental, over the counter and in-person locations, processing entry, POS retail sales, and other fee collections. We deliver field-proven technologies for scalability, security, and business continuity that deliver high performance with volume rating to 100,000 hourly transactions.
HOW WE DO TICKETING:
Multi-channel sales: Ticketing supports sales via the website, call center and walk-in at the activity
Ticket printing: Tickets can be delivered in a variety of ways including print-at-home (mobile
friendly email/PDF), or print at check-in via thermal printer or ticket/ wristband printers.
Conflict detection: Conflicts are detected when a selected tour time may overlap with a
subsequent activity time for both advance and in-person sales.
Check-in: For tickets purchased in advance, allows for the printing of tickets when the customer arrives and checks in.
Check-out: Allows the system to record when a customer checked out, enhancing participation analytics.
Validation: Allows an operator to scan a ticket to view details of a customer’s booking
Recreation Dynamics provides separate inventory tracking and product information for each location. This allows for changes to a similar or the same product at one location to not affect the inventory and product information of any other location.
Each store can have a unique inventory. The Catalog of Inventory available to the stores is maintained centrally to ensure consolidated reporting and elimination of duplicate item SKUs that cause chaos when centrally managing inventory.
The location-specific assortments and respective item pricing, costs, quantities, and other properties can be managed by location. Assortments and pricing at any given location have no impact on those at any other location.
Sales and inventory reporting flexibility is enabled by our ad hoc reporting and inquiry solutions, enabling accurate sales and inventory reporting and management at all levels of organizational hierarchy.
The Passes module has an intuitive interface for easy and speed of selling passes. As illustrated, each type of pass can have a button on the screen – simply select the button to add the selected parking pass to the shopping cart. Discounts can be applied as permitted by City-defined business rules.
Recreation Dynamics includes a comprehensive and extendable customer management capability that allows the City to create customer accounts with variable and City – defined customer attributes (introduce a custom field such as customer ‘Interests’ that may be used to promote activities), along with hierarchies and relationships between accounts.
This flexibility enables customers to configure customer accounts to a high level of detail—and to apply account data more effectively for reporting, planning, and public outreach to increase participation resulting in a steep rise in revenue.
When adding a customer profile for a new household or organization, Recreation Dynamics generates and assigns a unique and permanent customer identification number (CIN). This number is then used throughout the system to track all transactions by that customer and used to check when there are specific business rules restricting a customer’s transactions.
The Recreation Dynamics customer record can include many other attributes that are of added benefit to your department. These attributes can include additional personal information elements as well as customer-type classifications (e.g., senior, youth, veteran) that may be related to differing pricing for City’s inventory.
- Customer details, which can include medical information, school district, and special needs
- Dependents and their associated relationship such as spouse, child, stepchild, and aunt/uncle, all of which can be customized to meet your desires
- Emergency contacts with a primary and secondary phone number
- Customer flags indicating special status or circumstances as defined by your department
- Custom fields that can be set up for your department’s special requirements, such as preferred communication method
- Autofill address fields based on address search results
- Address validation and normalization to USPS standards
- Customer account creation date along with their unique customer ID-designated customer classifications (e.g., resident and non-resident, senior, military, or staff) that are then associated with that customer and can trigger the application of business rules every time they sign up for a program (e.g., automatically apply a different price for specific registrations, memberships)
- Option to opt in/out of marketing communications
- Duplicate account checks
- Enforcement of strong passwords for online login credentials
- Use of captcha to prevent automated bots
- Recovery of passwords
- Ability to suspend, hold, activate customer account
The solution provides a similar ability to create an organization-level account record for customers such as non-profits and third-party vendors.
This organization record allows the definition of unique attributes such as tax ID number, tax exempt number, insurance certificates, and expiration dates as well as adding members or sub-accounts under the organization-level account.
Our Pass module’s Configuration feature enables setup and management for each of the City’s parking ticket types. Access to add a Pass or modify an existing one is managed by user login settings.
Configuration options make setup and subsequent changes quick and easy.
Pass Dynamics is a streamlined, simple-to-use method to provide processes for increased efficiency in pass and permit management and tracking. It provides site staff with efficient processing of multiple cars, buses, or other entry vehicles without the need for time- consuming steps and processes.
Samples of Standard Reports:
Journal Report is a listing of transactions for a selected date range. The report gives both the high level and line-item details of each transaction. High level attributes include store, deposit slip number, batch, and cashier. The transaction details can include the item sold, taxes on that item, and tender of the transaction. The report is filtered by Date and Store and can further be filtered by specific item types or a specific cashier.
Activity Sign Ups Report
Activity Sign Ups Report is a detailed listing of Activities/Session taking place daily. It gives a detailed view of the enrollments of these sessions if any enrollments exist. These details include customer basic information and the number of registrants of a program where customers can buy multiple enrollments under one account profile. The report can be filtered by the start date of the session.
Gift Card Detail Report
Gift Card Detail Report is a detailed report of each gift card. It gives the date/information when a gift card was created or activated. It then shows sales that occurred under the gift card with a running balance and a transaction number to trace back to the transaction journal. The report can be filtered by date of action (use or creation) and specific gift card numbers.
Membership Detail Report
Membership Detail Report is a detailed listing of Memberships that can be filtered by Purchase Date, Effective Date, or Expiration Date. The report can also be filtered by specific Pass Names. The report gives a listing of Memberships active or purchased. The report will provide basic Customer information of the membership holder and details on what type of Membership was purchased.