Meghan Curran, Senior Vice President, Marketing, Guest Experience and Sales, Shedd Aquarium

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Curran continuously helps Shedd's staff better understand and act on the needs and interests of its guests.
Customer Experience

The customer curator

Meghan Curran, Senior Vice President, Marketing, Guest Experience and Sales, Shedd Aquarium and her team of 175 staffers are responsible for cultivating relationships with Shedd's close to 2 million annual visitors, maintaining its status as one of the top-attended aquariums in the U.S. and a cultural icon in Chicago. Since joining Shedd Aquarium 15 years ago, Curran has worked tirelessly to help Shedd's staff better understand and act on the needs and interests of its guests.

Curran was the driving force in the creation of Shedd's in-house marketing agency which has built out Shedd's brand while ensuring that guest insights are infused throughout strategic planning. These measures have ensured delivery of more meaningful guest-centric experiences.

Why is she a Customer Champion?

Meghan is continually focused on improving all aspects of the guest experience at Shedd Aquarium, including on site, online, and through each of the touchpoints that visitors use. She strives to understand the needs and interests of the aquarium's guests, overseeing its audience research and evaluation team to apply visitor feedback that's then used to help increase customer engagement and satisfaction.

Champion in action

Guest insights revealed that senior visitors can be challenged by high noise levels and crowds. Meghan championed a new Senior Days program on Wednesdays in September-traditionally the quietest day of the week and quietest month of the year-to help make visits by seniors more pleasurable without the cacophony of hundreds of school children on field trips. Over the course of five Wednesdays in September, the aquarium welcomed 1,500 seniors.

For instance, Shedd Aquarium houses what it claims is the oldest fish in any aquarium in the world, an Australian lungfish named Granddad that joined the aquarium just in time for Chicago's 1933 World's Fair. Since Granddad is brown/gray and doesn't move a lot, many guests might otherwise pass him by or mistake him for a log. But Curran and her team have brought attention to the world's oldest known aquarium fish, helping to further distinguish the guest experience at Shedd.

Curran has also made it much easier for guests to plan a visit. For instance, in the past, guests who wanted to make advance ticket purchases online were redirected to an online ticket agency where the web experience was difficult to navigate and they were assessed an additional service fee. Shedd has since brought online ticket purchasing to its own website and has simplified the customer journey while offering online discounts.

Filling the tank

Under Curran's direction, Shedd's customer engagement efforts have made a sizable splash on business performance. Since online ticket purchasing was redesigned, Shedd has more than doubled advanced sales and expects to beat its highest revenue year by more than $1 million in 2015. Guest satisfaction has also soared. Shedd Aquarium's Net Promoter Score has increased nearly every month for the past 15 months running.

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EXPERT OPINION