Customer Spotlight – South Coast Botanic Garden

Customer Spotlight - South Coast Botanic Garden
South Coast Botanic Garden

Customer Spotlight – South Coast Botanic Garden

June 1, 2020

It has been an extremely difficult last few months for the entire globe as we navigate this new normal and battle COVID-19 by practicing social distancing techniques and shelter-in-place. Arts and cultural institutions around the world were forced to close their doors until they could ensure that their institution was a safe space that adhered to all regulations put in place by the CDC to keep their visitors and employees protected. This new way of life has compelled institutions to completely restructure the way they operate – how and where they sell tickets, how they check-in guests, how they will manage the volume of visitors given the new capacity caps, and so much more.

One of ACME’s longtime clients, The South Coast Botanic Garden in Palos Verdes, knew that now more than ever, people needed their garden. Their grounds are a therapeutic and restorative space where visitors can go to immerse themselves in the beauty of nature, to connect with other living things like plants and animals, and to escape the current disarray of everyday life. With 87 acres of open land, they knew that if anyone had the space to allow their guests to safely roam the grounds while practicing social distancing, it was them. They were determined to take all necessary precautions to create a safe space that their visitors felt confident coming to, and that followed all CDC recommendations and guidelines so that they in turn could provide their community with this much needed peaceful and comforting connection to nature.


The ACME team went above and beyond to help the Garden reconfigure our ACME back-office when the COVID-19 pandemic struck and we were faced with having to either reimagine how we do business or risk being shut down. Within just a couple of days, we pivoted from selling tickets in-person at the gate to requiring all guests to make an advanced timed-ticket reservation. The strategic inventory management functionality in ACME has allowed us to continue to adjust our guest capacity on the fly as we learn how many guests we are able to safely manage at the Garden at any given time. These days, it seems the only constant is change, and we are grateful to be partnering with a ticketing company that is adaptive and responsive to the needs of the changing world.

– Kathryn McMonagle, Director, Membership and Visitor Services


Timed Ticketing

Pre-COVID days, the garden typically sold General Admission tickets. Guests would purchase a ticket for a specific date and they are free to arrive any time on that day. This was the first and most important change that needed to be made. In order to properly manage the flow of traffic and volume of guests at any given time, they knew they needed to enforce time-based entry. Luckily, ACME already had the functionality in place to make an almost instantaneous pivot in business operations. With the support of the ACME client services team, the Garden quickly converted their events from General Admission to Timed Ticketing in order to control the number of visitors that came through the door each hour. With 87-acres of land and the 6-foot social distancing rule in mind, they allotted 100 tickets for each hour time slot in order to keep crowds at bay and have guests properly spread out amongst the grounds.

With ACME’s timed-entry capabilities, you can set a custom capacity for any time frame throughout the day, as well as specific schedules for both the weekend and weekdays. This feature is beyond flexible and allows you to update capacities and time frames on-the-fly as trends and policies change.

Access Control & Contactless Payment

Another fundamental change that was made in order to make sure to minimize the number of physical interactions between staff and visitors, was going paperless. They accomplished this by adding digital access tools like e-tickets and e-receipts. They also strictly enforced advanced online ticket sales, which had the benefits of decreasing the length of lines and crowds, and it also allowed the staff to quickly check patrons in without ever touching or issuing a ticket.

The ticket booth for the South Coast Botanic Garden sits behind glass panels, creating a barrier between the staff and visitors. In order to check guests in, they adopted ACME’s manual check in feature. To check in tickets, a guest approaches the ticket booth, provides a name, order number or email address for order look up, and the staff quickly locates the guests order and manually checks in all the tickets from the Point of Sale device. No paper ever needs to exchange hands, protecting your staff, visitors and the environment.

ACME allows for paperless and contactless entry by:

  • Setting POS terminals to not print receipts and tickets and delivering electronically instead
  • Deploying ACME’s API to support self-service ticketing kiosks to limit staff interaction with guests at entry
  • Encouraging guests to purchase tickets online or via a mobile device with ACME’s responsive design, just as easily in walk-up scenarios
  • Utilizing the “Check-In All” feature on the final sales screen allowing the operator to redeem all tickets in the order in a single tap thereby eliminating ticketing printing and speeding guest access
  • Determining where possibly to never print tickets for specific events

The reality is, not every guest will purchase a ticket in advance. Walk-up visitors who still need to purchase a ticket can be greeted with a contactless payment option at the point of sale. You can enable options to “tap and pay” to limit the human contact that occurs with each credit card transaction, as well as self-pay kiosks onsite.

With this secure payment processing option, your guests can use a contactless credit card or their mobile device to complete an onsite transaction in seconds, without ever needing to hand over a physical payment.

Membership Sales & Member Benefits

Another key factor in the success of the Garden’s ability to stay open during COVID-19, was enforcing online Membership sales and verification. Taking one more step in reducing physical interactions and touchpoints, they communicated with their patrons that all new memberships were to be purchased online and benefits could be redeemed onsite. Additionally, existing members were directed to the online ACME portal where they could log in, verify their membership and manage their membership and their benefits from home. This self-service portal is accessible from anywhere and extremely user friendly. The Garden has had wonderful feedback from members on the platform’s ease of use and convenience.

When the COVID pandemic hit, the South Coast Botanic Garden quickly took action. Their employees stepped up and with the help of the ACME team, they implemented new policies and procedures, rapidly trained staff and were able to open their doors to thousands of grateful patrons.

To learn how ACME can help you quickly and successfully reopen your doors, reach out to us today!

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