By Erica Rymer, Events & Marketing Specialist
Your Akron Zoo is visited by an average of 400,000 guests every year. During their visit, a majority of our guests see a facility focused on caring for wildlife and teaching people about the importance of conservation. However, many guests miss just how much work goes into making these experiences not only possible, but pleasurable and worry free!
Our guest services department is proud to take up that mantle! Each day our dedicated team plans and coordinates field trips and group rentals, staffs ride stations around the zoo, and spends time with guests to answer questions or address concerns they may have. . . All while going largely unnoticed.
This is why we would like to take a moment to highlight Brian Haverkamp, Admission and Sales Supervisor at your Akron Zoo. Haverkamp has been on staff with us for eight years.
“I lucked into my job. I started as a seasonal employee, but they kept presenting me with new opportunities,” says Haverkamp. “I love interacting with guests and talking about our zoo, so guest services is a perfect fit for me!”
Haverkamp also loves his job because he gets the chance to talk to people from all over Ohio and connect their lives to wildlife.
“I help guests learn about conservation and the importance of protecting animals at our zoo and around the world. The best part of my job is interacting with guests, showing off our facilities and talking about the unique opportunities that we have here for schools or company visits. It helps create memories that will last long after their visit!”
We asked Haverkamp what a day in his job looks like. As it turns out, just because you don’t see the hard work of the guest services department doesn’t mean it doesn’t benefit you! In fact, the harder our guest services staff work, the less likely you are to notice them, since they keep all regular guest operations moving without a hitch.
“There’s no such thing as a normal day, but every day is fun when you get a chance to interact with guests! I typically get to work around 8 a.m., but occasionally I come in earlier to supervise the admission and guest experiences staff. On a regular day I make decisions about classroom programming for field trips, schedule field trips and facility rentals, and even address questions and concerns of our daily guests. I’m also involved in admissions and events when we have a lot of guests to make sure their experience is a pleasant one.”
Haverkamp is an invaluable member of our team, and he is as important to the zoo as the zoo is important to him. He loves the animals, and his favorite animals are our grizzly bears, Jackson and Cheyenne. Of course, he also loves his job, and is always looking for ways to make our guests’ experiences better.
“I feel great during the day. It is uplifting to talk to our guests, but I am usually exhausted by the time I head home, and I’m ready to sit down and relax. At the end of the day I am usually already preparing for the next day. Work never stops and I constantly find myself thinking of ways to improve what we do here. Especially in May, every day ends with me evaluating how the day went with field trips and thinking about how we can improve our processes for the next day.”
Though his hard work may go unnoticed by our guests, Haverkamp’s dedication and initiative have made him a notable member of the guest services community. In May Haverkamp received a Zenith Award from the Akron/Summit Convention and Visitors Bureau, recognizing him as Rookie of the Year!
Haverkamp has a few pieces of advice for anyone looking to begin a career in guest services: “First, pay attention to everything because little things can have a big impact on guests. Second, take plenty of notes. Finally, never forget that smiling and saying hello can go a long way.”
So next time you are planning a field trip, company outing, or just a day out with the family, consider your Akron Zoo, where our staff is committed to making your experience great! And if you see Brian Haverkamp around the zoo, be sure to congratulate him on being Rookie of the Year, and thank him for his hard work and his love for our animals and guests alike!