Price cut a boon for Zealandia

Last updated 07:00 17/12/2013

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Zealandia's slashed entry prices have proved just the ticket to get people through the gates.

In October, the Karori Sanctuary announced new prices, after struggling to get enough people to the multimillion-dollar visitor centre, which opened in 2010.

Most entry prices dropped by about 40 per cent.

Adult entry to both the sanctuary and exhibit went from $28.50 to $17.50, while the children's price went to $9 from $14.50.

The family pass now costs $44, compared with the previous $71.50. Tickets were also made valid for two days.

Yesterday, marketing and sales manager Peter Laurenson said the sanctuary had a huge upswing in visitors over the past seven weeks, with November recording 43 per cent more visitors than the same month last year. There were 1200 more visitors than budgeted for.

"Overall, this growth offset virtually the entire drop in revenue per admission that resulted from the price reduction," he said.

The number of people signing up for memberships had also soared, going up 141 per cent.

That, combined with more cafe spending, meant that the sanctuary was sitting "well in the black", he said.

"It's doing exactly what we hoped it would - in fact faster than we hoped it would."

The change in prices followed a second consecutive annual drop in visitor numbers, to 82,749. That was less than half the target set for last year when the $16 million visitor centre opened.

The shortfall in visitors prompted the Wellington City Council to agree an extra $350,000 for the sanctuary in 2013-14 and 2014-15. The council has also stepped up its monitoring of the organisation.

Mr Laurenson said it was easy to say, with hindsight, that the prices should have been reduced earlier, but it was only through the security provided by the enhanced partnership with the council that it had been able to take the plunge.

"The risk would have been perceived as too great if we didn't have that enhanced partnership."

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- © Fairfax NZ News


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