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Operations Management London Zoo and Nottimham Castle Case Study

Essay Topic: ,

In today’s information age, it is important for businesses to take advantage of the available avenues to reach out to customers and potential customers. Tourist attractions such as London Zoo, and Nottingham Castle, are no exceptions of being in the age of constant information flows. These places want to attract visitors with their facility layouts and overall experiences, and to improve upon what they already have, they would need to optimize their products through well planned operations management.

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When one thinks of a zoo and a historic museum, it is very natural to think of both places as tourist attractions, but what they offer the visitors could be very different. The London Zoo offers patrons the experience of interacting with animals that we would otherwise have very little chances of seeing, while the Nottingham Castle brings the visitors back in time and allows them to feel and see the history. The zoo needs to attract people with their animal collections, while the Nottingham Castle needs to intrigue visitors with their well laid out tours, guides, and interesting historic facts.

The purpose of this report is to describe how each of these places, the London Zoo and the Nottingham Castle, are run in terms of operations management, then to identify possible flaws and ways to improve upon their current operational methodology. Though these two places are both tourist attractions, but their appeals are unique to their own. The zoo offers exciting and dynamic interactions with live animals, so it needs to capitalize on the animals it has or through possible new animal acquisitions. The Nottingham Castle on the other hand should cater to what the visitors would be most interested in knowing about the place.

To wrap up this report, a comparison between the two locations will be done. Nottingham Castle can trace its history back to 1067; the wooden castle was built by the Conqueror. In 1878, Prince of Wales opened it as a municipal museum and art gallery and it has since become one of the popular scenic spots in Nottingham city. According to Nottingham City Council website, Nottingham Castle is open Tuesday to Sunday from 10am to 4pm. From March to September it opens until 5 in the evening. Although the Castle only provides parking for disabilities, public parking and railway station are all within 10 to 15minutes walk.

In order to attract more visitors, Nottingham Castle has a Tuesday free entry plan for the local citizens. Other visitors can purchase tickets from 3 to 5. 5Pounds depending on different types of tickets. There is only one entrance into the Castle, therefore after visitors purchase the tickets; they have admission to any of the places inside Nottingham Castle which includes the indoor facilities: museum, art gallery and outdoor facilities: Victorian bandstand, playground. It can be seen that Nottingham Castle has both the educational and entertainment functions which are suitable for family leisure activity.

Figure 1: Nottingham Castle process and layout diagram Source: BBC Local Nottingham Website Nottingham Castle is surrounded by walls, when visitors go into the castle gatehouse they will see a beautiful garden and the castle atop the hill. As can be seen in the Figure 1, Nottingham Castle has tried to arrange a route for visitors. Visitors usually are attracted by the Robin Hood statue just outside the castle before heading to the castle gatehouse to purchase the tickets. Once inside the Castle, visitors can access any facility to their likings and do not necessarily have to follow the route which is suggested by Nottingham Castle.

According to BBC Nottingham local website, the route suggested by Nottingham Castle shown as below: Robin Hood Statue > Castle Gatehouse > Victorian Bandstand > Eastern Terrace > Guard Room > Dungeon 01 > Dungeon 02 > Long Gallery > Castle Roof > Soldiers Tunnel > Mortimer’s Hole > Cannon Position > Miller’s Cottage In this case, Nottingham Castle could be classified as process layout. This is because when visitors flow through the operation, they choose a route from facility to facility according to their needs. (Slack et al. , 2004) Nottingham Castle is considered a small Castle.

The museum and gallery are all located inside the Castle. The space of the exhibition compare to many other museums is on the smaller side. The Castle Cafe and shop are not very busy during the day. Visitors normally spend one to two hours to see all the facilities. Therefore, the volume of its output is low. Moreover, when visitors go to the gatehouse, the staffs are not only selling tickets but also in charge of the gift shop. Slack et al. (2004) state that when the volume is lower, “the number of staff will be lower and therefore individual staffs are likely to perform a wider range of tasks” (p. 0) this situation can be observed at Nottingham Castle.

It might cause visitors to wait in the long queue, because of the customers who want to buy gift and tickets have to wait at the same counter. Once the visitors are in the Castle, they can access many attractions. For adults, they can enjoy the art and historical display; children can experience the outdoor playground and some indoor displays which are design for kids on ground floor. Furthermore, Nottingham Castle hold different events and tours throughout the year. (Table 1) These information shows that Nottingham Castle provides high variety of services.

However, when there is no special event, the outdoor facilities tend to be idle. The function of playground and bandstand will be low. Table 1: Nottingham Castle events and tours Events| Time| Outdoor theatre| June, July and August| Robin Hood Pageant| October| Christmas events including visiting Santa| Christmas| Fireworks| | Historical en-enactments| | Indoor and outdoor activities for families| All year long| Festivals and fairs| | Cave tours| Tuesday – Sunday| Private hire| | During the weekends, holidays and school vacations, the number of visitors will increase.

In addition, the castle is closed on Mondays; the number of visitors can fluctuate greatly depending on the time of the year.

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Along with big crowds,variation of demands can arise. It is then crucial for the Nottingham Castle staffs to assist the patrons when necessary. Visitors do not need to spend for a long time to find staffs for assistant. The transforming resources such as: Castle, Museum and gallery are highly visible to the visitors. The second case in this essay is London Zoo. Since it opened in 1828, London Zoo has been one of the most favorite attractions in England. (Watt and Stuart, 1995, p. ) Similar to Nottingham Castle, London Zoo adopt process layout as their operation layout type. Visitors do not have many limitations after they get into the zoo.

Once inside the Zoo, not only staff and facilities are transforming resources but so are animals. Therefore, the collection of animals and their well-being is very important for the zoo. The average number of visitors during holidays, weekends and special events tend to be high. The number of visitors can peak at 18,000 people per day compare to 4000 to 6000 people on average. (Watt and Stuart, 1995) Base on these figures, the volume of London Zoo’s output is high.

Moreover,London Zoo offers high-variety service. They have grown their animal collections and developed children’s zoo, education centre …etc. Additionally, questionnaires are sent out to customers to help them improve their daily operation. Although the volume of London Zoo is high, the Variation of demand is quite high as well. According to Watt and Stuart (1995), daily number of visitors fluctuated dramatically. The lowest and highest visitor numbers are 48 and 18. 000 people. London Zoo is predicted as a high visibility leisure facility. Most of the transforming resources are visible to the visitors.

During peak periods, the zoo will hire more temporary stuff to help permanent stuff and thus provides customers a better experience. After carefully examining each facility’s operations management, we can then compare and contrast them side by side. As discussed,the Nottingham Castle and the London Zoo have the same type of operation layout which is process layout. One disadvantage of process layout is customer queuing. (Slack et al. , 2004, p. 217) This issue is present in both of the two cases, especially during peak periods. London Zoo has queue everywhere, even the food in the shop is not up to the demand. Watt and Stuart, 1995) The other problem which appeared in author’s own experience was the clarity of flow in Nottingham Castle was low. Although visitors are free to choose their own route, the signposts in Nottingham Castle appear to be not clear. The unclear signposts sometimes confuse visitors; causing visitors to be unsure whether they have been to the all the facilities on each floor. This problem match another possible disadvantage of process layout which is complex flow could be difficult to control. These two disadvantages both affect visitor’s experiences adversely.

As we know customers’ satisfaction is crucial to any business sustainability and credibility. Therefore, improvement should be taken to upgrade their service quality. Refer to the difference between the four Vs in each facility. (Figure 2) Due to the size of the facility, London Zoo tends to have higher volume and variety to their outputs. Furthermore, London Zoo shows higher degree of visibility than Nottingham Castle. This is not only about contacts with the staff, but also higher visibility of the transforming resources to visitors. For instance, sometimes, visitors could have the chance to see workers feeding the animals.

Hence,there is more interaction between transformed and transforming resources in London Zoo. Figure 2: Nottingham Castle and London Zoo Four Vs One common issue between both facilities is high variation in demand. This could lead to unstable financial statements and high unit costs. (Slack et al. , 2004) For leisure facilities, not surprisingly, the number of visitors varies from period to period. For example, during the summer vacation or school holidays, more families are willing to visit leisure facilities. The number of visitors will also get a boost when there are special events.

This kind of unpredictable situation has a great impact on both places, especially the London Zoo. “On the Easter and August Bank holidays we can easily reach 10,000 people. ” (Watt and Stuart, 1995, p. 8) Having a huge number of visitors in a day might be a good thing on short term profits. However, fluctuation of visitors can be a challenging obstacle to formulate a long term plan for due to the uncertain demands between peak and down times without sacrificing the quality of product. The shortage of stuff and products can lower the service quality which directly affects its reputation.

As London Zoo’s director Jo Gipps said: (Watt and Stuart, 1995, p. 12) “They (visitors) will spread their dissatisfaction or disappointment by ‘word-of-mouth’. The consequence will be that visitors will not return, and new visitors will not be attracted” Since London Zoo is a bigger facility than Nottingham Castle, the temporary shortage on staff and products in busy months should have more impacts on its overall customers’ experiences. Thus, having a plan to cope with the short term increasing demands is even more vital for the Zoo to include in its operations management.

This essay described Nottingham Castle and London Zoo in terms of operations management. After identifying each of facilities’ characteristic, it can be found that the basic layout adopted by both is process layout. Since visitors are free to move inside the zoo and the castle, the layouts of facilities need to maximize the traffic flow and put down well indicated signs for the visitors. The appropriate management of the traffic flow and the demands that are associated with a big crowd of people is a major mission for both the Nottingham Castle and the London Zoo.

To some extent, Nottingham Castle and London Zoo have many similarities. Continual developments are the keys to attract more visitors to both places. However, due to the size of the facility and the nature of services provided, London Zoo has a more complex and dynamic operation process. In order to be competitive among today’s competitive leisurely activities choices, The Zoo needs to constantly reinvent itself with new acquisition of animals, interesting promotions to keep its spot light in potential customers’ minds. Therefore, the important resource for the Zoo is new capital which can help it explore new developments.

On the other hand, the Nottingham Castle is a historic museum. The beauty of the Castle is its originality. There is simply not enough room nor need for new developments, but what the Castle would need is better representations of the history and stories of the Castle. And these improvements should be implemented on the guided tours, and better trained staff members. This is obviously not a single way to manage both of these multifaceted leisure facilities. Each case is unique of its own and should require careful considerations before implementing changes that suite its best interest.

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