What’s the latest with thrive(3)?

...we're glad you asked.

Since launching our thrive(3) strategic plan early last year, together with our partners, we’ve been hard at work.

But first, ICYMI, thrive(3) is our company-wide initiative under one culture, one team, and 100 percent alignment with our partners. We’ve been focusing on bundling our services around food, retail, and admissions to better support the entire guest experience. And in order to better deliver on our three pillars, focused on sustainability, digital innovation, and diversity, we partnered with industry experts to help us strategically reach our goals in 2022 and beyond.

We’re really excited to share some global updates on our thrive(3) roadmaps from the last year. Here’s our SSA and our partners have been #thrivin3 together:


Over the course of the last year, we continued expanding our bundled services nationwide as well as leaning into supporting events and promotions around these services at our existing partners. Here’s what we’ve been working on:

  • Expanded services at COSI, Minnesota Zoo, Detroit Zoo, Riverbanks Zoo, and Central Florida Zoo
  • Supported Chattanooga Zoo’s Asian Lantern Festival with event promotion through admissions, food and retail
  • Continued to bring food and retail together at partner locations including the Brookfield Zoo marketplace
  • Supporting admissions and ticketing at Pretend City Children’s Museum, Chattanooga Zoo, Bishop Museum, Pearl Harbor, Great Plains Zoo, Sedgwick County Zoo, Naples Zoo, Central Florida Zoo, Seneca Park Zoo

This past year we made some very exciting progress in partnership with Verdis Group which specializes in strategic climate action, climate resilience, and sustainability planning for large organizations. Here’s what we’ve been working on:

  • Two zero-waste events at the National Aquarium and Maryland Zoo for the AZA 2022 Annual Conference
  • Participated in plastic-free July with sustainable pledges via the Plastic Free Ecochallenge with several partners (including Oklahoma City Zoo where the team supported the institution’s efforts for the first time ever!)
  • Implemented several waste reduction initiatives at National Western Stock Show 2023 including a first-time partnership with r.Cup
  • Removed single-use plastic packaging in three leading retail locations including Monterey Bay Aquarium (the first Aquarium in the US), Houston Zoo (the first Zoo in the US), and Maryland Zoo
  • Initiated a Conservation Merchandise Partnership with the Snow Leopard Trust – incorporating A&F products and handicraft goods at eight partner locations. 
Digital Innovation:

This past year, we partnered with Slalom, a global consulting firm focused on strategy, technology, and business transformation to continue connecting our in-person and digital guest experience. Here’s what we’ve been working on:

  • Self checkout technology implemented at the Brookfield Zoo marketplace
  • Two robots introduced into the SSA family – Pepper who engages with guests in the COSI gift shop and Cayenne who delivers meals in Shark Reef Cafe at ABQ BioPark.
  • Development of a unique augmented reality experience in promotion of COSI’s King Tut exhibit.
  • Implementation of Breeze Creative interactive displays and digital signage at Maryland Zoo gift shop.
  • Sparkd mobile ordering and self-ordering kiosks now at 6 properties
  • Kicked off partnership with Attractions.io. Attractions.io will be our immersive guest experience platform providing a differentiated experience for our partner’s guests.
IDEA + Belonging

In 2022, we partnered with ​​LV Jones Consulting, a diversity marketing consulting firm, to lean into our commitment to diversity, inclusion, equity, and accessibility within our team, as well as across all of our partner venues. Here’s what we’ve been working on:

  • The first round of the Apprenticeship Program was launched
  • Creation of PRIDE and Hispanos ERGs
  • Launch of the Representation Matters collection, soon to be available at 25 SSA retail locations
  • Continuing our 3rd year of serving on the AZA Diversity Committee
  • SSA + Cincinnati Zoo employees completed the Queen City Certified program with Cincinnati Zoo becoming a bronze-level ellequate certified employer
2023: What a time to thrive(3)

We’re proud of the work we’ve accomplished thus far together with our partners and are very excited about what’s ahead for our industry. If you are interested in your cultural attraction’s involvement in any of these pillars, please get in touch! In the meantime, stay up to date on all our latest plans and developments on our social channels!

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