Falling in love with ZSL. How engaging the internal team is benefiting both them and their visitors. With Kelly Wessell

In this Skip the Queue podcast episode I speak with Kelly Wessell, Visitor Operations Manager at Zoological Society of London (ZSL).

Kelly Wessell’s bio: My career in Visitor attractions started with a seasonal role at Chessington aged 18, I worked there whilst studying. After I finished studying I was lucky to get a managerial role there and in 2014 progressed into a role at ZSL as Experiences Product Manager for London Zoo.

I’ve been fortunate enough to develop my career at ZSL and I am now part of the Senior Management team as Visitor Operations Manager for London Zoo! I am responsible for the Security, First Aid and Duty Management teams with a key focus on Visitor Experience.

Our focus for 2022 is all about Visitor Experience and to kick off our peak season we launched Operation:OKAPI this was also an opportunity for all of us to fall in love with the zoo again after a tough few years!

Outside of work I enjoy spending time with my family, I have daughter who is 4 we’re always out and about on the go! 

“If you can give visitors little nuggets of information, they go away saying, “I never knew that.” They’ve told me something secret about the zoo and in turn, hopefully that then retains them, turns them into a member or gets them to visit or share their experience.”

What will you learn from this podcast?

  • All about re-engaging your team with their workplace
  • The internal programme that’s been developed to help them get to know and love the zoo again


To listen to the full podcast, search Skip The Queue on iTunesGoogle Podcasts and Spotify to subscribe. You can find links to every episode and more at www.rubbercheese.com/podcast.

You can also read the full transcript below.

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The interview

Your host, Kelly Molson

Our guest, Kelly Wessell



Kelly Molson: Kelly, thank you so much for coming on the podcast. That’s lovely to have another Kelly on the podcast. Two Kelly’s. Double treat for everybody.

Kelly Wessell: You’re welcome.

Kelly Molson: As I’ve always started, with our icebreakers. So, Kelly, I can’t not ask you this question. What is your favourite zoo animal?

Kelly Wessell: Oh, that’s like the worst question you could ask, because we should say all of the animals are our favourite.

Kelly Molson: Of course.

Kelly Wessell: But I love giraffes. I have done, ever since I was really little. Also, I’m only small myself. I’m only 4’11”, so I would quite like to see what the world would look like up there and being so close to animals that big is amazing. So, yeah. I’ve just loved them ever since I was really small and then being able to work at a zoo where they live is just fantastic.

Kelly Molson: Oh, Kelly. That’s so awesome. They actually, they’re my daughter’s favourite animal as well. She’s a big fan of them so you’re in good company there, and also,4’11”? I’m 5’2”. We were destined to be friends.

Kelly Wessell: There we go. And both called Kelly, that’s it, it’s fate.

Kelly Molson: Absolutely. Okay. What hobby have you always wanted to do? But you’ve never jumped in with two feet to give it a go?

Kelly Wessell: I would love to be able to speak different languages, but at GCSE, I went to a language college actually at secondary school, so we had to take two languages. I took German and French and I was awful for whatever reason it was, nothing would stay in my brain.

I’d love to be able to speak different languages, but for some reason it’s just something that I can’t quite grasp. I can’t quite learn. I was very good at other subjects, but just languages have never been my forte. I’ve gone back to try and learn through different apps and things, but for whatever reason, it just won’t sink in it.

Kelly Molson: It is really hard though, isn’t it? I did Duolingo all throughout lockdown, I was trying to learn Spanish and I realised that I was… I could read and listen and understand more than I could actually speak it because you’re not doing that element of it and you need to immerse yourself into the place. Don’t you? You need to really throw yourself in. It’s really, really hard. Yeah. I agree with you on that one. I think I would like to be better at languages, not very good.

Kelly Wessell: Yeah.

Kelly Molson: Okay. What is, this is a weird one, and you might have a really good answer to this because of where you work. What is your favourite smell and why?

Kelly Wessell: Oh. It’s not going to be zoo related.

Kelly Molson: I should hope not, to be honest.

Kelly Wessell: I know a lot of people don’t like this smell, but when it’s just rained and it’s got that muddy, earthy smell. I love it. Absolutely love it. Love it. On holiday, you have that smell at home when it’s really rained and you go out and it smells. I don’t know what it is. It just smells nice to me. Yeah. A lot of people don’t like it, but that I say that would be my favourite smell.

Kelly Molson: Good smell. Yeah. It feels it’s like the world has been refreshed to start again.

Kelly Wessell: Yeah.

Kelly Molson: I like it. All right, Kelly, what is your unpopular opinion? What have you prepared for us?

Kelly Wessell: So, it’s food related. I detest them. I absolutely hate them. When I turn 30, everyone was like, you’ll love them, everyone does. I would love to ban them in any food whatsoever, and that is olives. I cannot stand them. Anything they touch, anything they’ve been in, you pick them out, the whole dish still tastes like olives. Yeah. I just really, really dislike them.

Kelly Molson: I knew that you were going to say olives when you said everyone had said I’d like them when you turned 30.

Kelly Wessell: Yes.

Kelly Molson: Because that you’re supposed to mature into olives, aren’t you? The taste of them.

Kelly Wessell: Exactly. Wine and olives. It sounds great. Oh, I just can’t. Any of them. Any colour. Just can’t eat them.

Kelly Molson: I feel the same way about peas, if it makes you feel any better, they taint everything that they touch for me. But I mean, you don’t, I mean… I can have happily have a glass of wine without having to have a bowl of peas put next to me.

Kelly Wessell: Exactly.

Kelly Molson: A bit of a nicer experience.

Kelly Wessell: Yeah.

Kelly Molson: All right. Brilliant. All right, listeners. Well. I mean, you might feel the same about olives, let me know. Kelly, tell me a little bit about your background before we get into what we’re really going to talk about today.

Kelly Wessell: Yep. So, I’m currently the Visitor Operations Manager at ZSL London Zoo. I have been there for seven years now. I started out in attractions very, very young, actually. 17, 18 as a seasonal host back at Chessington, who are owned by Merlin and worked there while I studied and went to uni and then I was very lucky that a role came up there, which was managing their fast track and animal experiences team.

I gave it a shot and I got lucky. I stayed there in that role for about a year and a half, and then did exactly the same job pretty much, but starting from the ground up came up at ZSL.

I’ve always loved animals. I love what ZSL does. Being a conservation charity, I felt that sat really well with my ethos and morals. So, gave it a go, applied for the role and took on their experiences at the zoo there, and then slowly worked my way up to now being part of the senior management team at London Zoo and heading up visitor ops, so I look after security and first aid for the site.

It’s all our emergency procedures and incident management, as well as having a real focus on visitor experience now, which we hadn’t had for a few years, especially with COVID hitting us. But now we’re really a driving force with that. That’s a real part of our plan for this year.

Kelly Molson: I mean, what an amazing place to be able to work at, Kelly. Obviously, like what you’ve said, it just fitted so well with your ethos and what you love. There must be a bit of a pinch me every day and you walk in there. Ooh, this is it, I’m here.

Kelly Wessell: I feel so privileged. I feel really privileged to work there. I’ve got a four year old daughter who tells everyone at nursery that I work at the zoo, and being able to inspire her is amazing. It’s such a fantastic organisation and I work with some absolutely amazing people. I feel very, very lucky to be where I am.

Kelly Molson: That’s lovely. That’s really good to hear. I’m sure they would love to hear that as well. But we had a really good chat a few weeks ago about a really interesting topic. It’s very topical actually, this topic. Obviously, the pandemic is now over. Restrictions are done, pretty much and so there is a resurgence of people going back to their workplaces in some way, shape, or form. We might have this hybrid mix of people working a little bit from home and back in their offices.

We had this talk about it in respect to the zoo. You’ve been tasked with developing a really interesting program to support your team in getting to know and love the zoo again.

Kelly Wessell: Yeah.

Kelly Molson: Which I thought was really interesting because, for me, if I worked at the zoo, I’d be like, oh my God, this is the best place ever. I’m going back to it. But I think people have been at home for so long and haven’t been able to engage with their workplaces.

You’ve got to spur them back a little bit, right? You’ve got to show them how amazing it is again. Can you, how did this all come about? Can you tell us about it?

Kelly Wessell: Yeah. Yeah. Obviously, COVID hit the zoo, let’s say for the last two years. We’ve been operating very differently to how we did prior to COVID. A lot of learnings and a lot of changes operationally, which have been really, really helpful and have changed us for the better. But what we found was that our teams were tired.

Our operational teams have been working so hard and we’ve been putting a lot of pressure on them in regards to getting us up and running and operating. Things changed quite a lot, sometimes very quickly. My chief operating officer, who is my boss, she said people are feeling a bit flat, what’s going on?

I’m one of those individuals who… I’ll talk to everyone who works at the zoo. I will ask how people are, what’s going on, how people’s teams are feeling. I started to put feelers out as to how teams are feeling. Across the board, everyone was knackered. Everyone was feeling a bit flat.

Taking that back to her and speaking to her about what we could do, and we’d come up with this concept that we would create a pre-peak season launch, but it would be for everyone. So, whether you worked in marketing or HR or our Comms teams, and those teams worked throughout the whole entire pandemic, all of them from home. Most of them haven’t come back to the office full time.

As well as our operational teams, including all of us in something that could get everyone excited again and show off how good of a job we are doing and what we are going to be doing, and really give everyone some key skills in regards to speaking to visitors, whether you work in catering or whether you are just on site, hot desking and going to, and from meetings across site, you’d be able to interact with our visitors and just make everyone realise what a good job we’ve done and that we are doing. That’s where Operation OKAPI was born, really.

Kelly Molson: Operation OKAPI. Is that what it’s called?

Kelly Wessell: Yeah. Yes.

Kelly Molson: What does that, is that… What’s the meaning behind that?

Kelly Wessell: OKAPI is an acronym for Operational Knowledge and Procedural Information. One of our retail team came up with the name, so I’m not going to take any credit here for that, but also everyone loves the okapi at the zoo.

We had a baby last year and they’re just amazing animals. They were discovered by someone who used to work for ZSL. It’s got a really good link back to our history, and they’re just super cute.

Kelly Molson: Yeah. Oh, that’s lovely that it’s gone a little bit full circle with the name then. This sounds great. It is, I guess… I mean, everybody that worked through that pandemic was exhausted. I mean, anyone that’s gone through the pandemic regardless of whether you were working or not working is exhausted because it was such a difficult time.

So much to process each day, so much new things to process each day. Never really knowing where you are at all the time, so to be able to reengage your team in such positive ways, obviously you’re going to have some really strong benefits for them and for the visitors. What are some of the things that you are actually doing with the program? Can you talk us through that?

Kelly Wessell: Yeah. Yeah. We actually run it for the whole of last week. Monday to Sunday. We did two hour sessions. We did tea, coffee, and biscuits. Always gets people to come along to this type of stuff. That was the thing we offered.

Kelly Molson: Well, get me. Definitely.

Kelly Wessell: We then refreshed everyone on our emergency procedures, which is something that we need to do anyway. It’s super important, but people just assume they’re doing the right thing sometimes because they’ve been there for so long. We did emergency procedures.

We then went through what was coming up for 2022. Our whole entire program is planned by our programs team. They’re absolutely fantastic, they bring in some amazing stuff so we could really get people excited about what was coming up for Easter,Summer, Christmas, the Jubilee.

Then had a bite size session on customer service. We’re just about to embark on a really big customer service journey. Our operational teams are about to start mystery shopping and put together a program. This was a really good opportunity to put customer service on everyone’s radar and that we all have the responsibility for it with our internal customers, each other, as well as our visitors.

We did a bite size session on that and then we went through some accessibility and disability awareness. We’re a nearly 200 year old site, and all our staff thought, “Oh, we’re so inaccessible. We’re not accessible at all.” We are, and it’s really amazing to share that with everyone, that actually there’s only two places in the whole entire zoo that are difficult to access for someone who has additional needs and special care. But the rest of our zoo is totally accessible. All of the additional engagement pieces that we do are part of that as well.

It was really nice to be able to share a really good story and message with those teams. Then we did an orientation activity. Bit of a scavenger hunt, and that was to get people out of their seats. Not sitting there just listening to us talk to them, but to go out on site and see some of those things.

For example, we have a changing places toilet, which is phenomenal to have and means that individuals with extra needs may have only visited us for a couple of hours because they need to get home and use facilities. We’ve now ensured that those individuals can have a full day out with us and be dignified and have a space to go if they need it. We showed everyone that. We took them to key areas around zoo, and we just made it fun.

Talked to people about us having a giraffe house that was, is the only building now on site that is [inaudible 00:14:42] purpose it was built for, and that the people who built it had never seen a giraffe.

Kelly Molson: Really?

Kelly Wessell: Yes. All these quirky facts, all the historical facts we should be using to our advantage. If you can give visitors little nuggets of information like that, they go away saying, “I never knew that”. I’ve had, they’ve told me something secret about the zoo and in turn, hopefully that then retains them, turns them into a member or gets them to visit or share their experience.

We just tried to make it as fun as possible but giving that really key and core information to everyone. In total, Monday to Sunday, we had 250 members of staff attend, which is a really good turn out for the first time running something like this. All the anecdotal feedback that we’ve had at the moment has been super positive.

We’ve already had emails saying, “I need to get this team on, or these people couldn’t attend. Are you going to run anymore?” It is really positive and I have to thank my deputy, Karl, for organising the presentation section and the orientation because actually he did a fabulous job getting all that information together from key teams and was a real big player in delivering. So, yeah. It was a really, really great week.

Kelly Molson: Oh, what fantastic feedback that you’ve had. That’s really positive, isn’t it? Think what you said was really interesting about, and we’ll go back to the giraffe house that you said that fact about, whoever had designed and built it had never actually seen a giraffe before, which is crazy. Can only imagine what was going through their heads.

But you said that little fact is something that you can share with the guests and they’ll be really engaged with it because it’s like a secret piece of knowledge that they just discovered, but I guess that’s the same for your internal team, right? How many of the people on that day didn’t know that little fact? It’s those little things that you can share with your team to re-excite them about the place that they work, right? They’ve just found out something new that they didn’t know about yet.

Kelly Wessell: Definitely. There’s another one where we’ve got photos of Walt Disney filming our old penguin pool that no one’s seen before. So, we’re able to share really amazing facts and information, like you said, with our own teams. Going to go away and say, did you know that about the zoo?

Sometimes we see the zoo as being really old, and we are, we can’t shy away from that. We are, we have restrictions, we have listed buildings and things like that, but we’re really trying to show it in a positive light and share our history because actually that’s what’s really unique about us.

We were founded in 1826 and we were the first scientific zoo and we shouldn’t shy away from it. That’s what we were really trying to get across to people that we know that we have restrictions and barriers because of being one of the oldest zoos, but actually that’s really cool, and share it with people, tell people that we are that because then they ask, well, what else can I find out, or why is that like it is? And we can hopefully explain it. So yeah, it was really nice to share historic stuff in a really positive manner.

Kelly Molson: Yeah.

Kelly Wessell: And it not be seen as a barrier, but be seen as knowledge.

Kelly Molson: Well, it’s a massive benefit, isn’t it? I guess that was one of my questions about this process that you’re going through. So, you are, you said earlier that you are now behind driving the visitor experience. But, I mean, that drive can’t really happen without an engaged internal team, right? What are the benefits of doing this for the team?

Kelly Wessell: When you are having a good day, every person that you speak to is having a good day. That’s what we are instilling in the teams. If you are excited about coming to work and you are doing something that you’re engaged with and you are having fun, people see that and it radiates off of you. In turn, people feel happy and you’re giving them a good day.

By giving someone a fact that we’ve given you in their coffee sessions, you could potentially make their whole entire day by just sharing that nugget of knowledge with people. That’s one of the things that a lot of the teams sat there and went, actually, I can make a difference.

I can just turn someone’s day around by just interacting with them or sharing some knowledge. That’s from teams who aren’t visitor focused or aren’t out on the ground. We’re asking anyone and everyone to just acknowledge obvious to say hello as you’re walking across the zoo, because that can really make a difference. I hope that all those people that we had the sessions with last week, if they take anything away that’s what they take away and use the most.

Kelly Molson: That’s really nice, isn’t it? It’s empowering them to make someone’s day a little bit more special.

Kelly Wessell: Yeah.

Kelly Molson: Love it. I guess then the benefits to the visitors are they see how engaged your team are that work there. They get a better experience because people have been really positive to them throughout the day. Does it… Is there any other benefits for the visit, for the visitor’s perspective?

Kelly Wessell: Ultimately, them having a good day out. There’s lots of opportunities to potentially transform those day visitors into members, which commercially is fantastic. We’ve got a huge membership base already, but our members are really important to us and we want to keep growing that, as well as… Someone might see one of our volunteers and see that they’re having a great time volunteering with us.

They might then want to lend us their time and be engaged in that sense, as well as, we’ve tasked all the teams with just trying to get people to write in about their day. People love to write a TripAdvisor about a bad day, and we are trying to change that narrative and get people to write about having a good day out with us.

Bonus if they mention someone’s name. Amazing, because we can track it back. But ultimately, we’re all responsible for visitor experience wherever we work. So, we want to try and push those positive reviews and give people the best day out with us.

Kelly Molson: Yeah. That’s a big statement, isn’t it? Ultimately, we are all in control of the visitor experience. That’s quite a big statement when you put that out there, isn’t it? I guess that’s a hard thing to instil into someone who works in an office in the middle of the zoo.

For example, or isn’t a zookeeper, because you could see how the zookeeper would change someone’s experience, but they might struggle to engage with it if they just, well I’m so… The job that I do is so detached from the actual day-to-day experience that people are getting here. What other things have you been doing as part of the program that you could share with us?

Kelly Wessell: Talking about the power of hello, I think people don’t realise how amazing it is to be able to just say hello to someone and welcome them. Also, it helps you with that awkwardness at times. We’ve got a part of the zoo as you come in the entrance, there’s a board, there’s a big map.

You’ve walked in, you don’t know where you’re going, you’re excited. The kids are running around and you try to find the first place that you want to go to. Just turning around to that person, seeing that family and saying hello totally sets the tone for their day out. You’re proactive. You’re saying, “I can see you. I want to help you.”

That’s what we’ve been working with and that’s just the bite size bits of customer service that we’ve been doing with the teams, is just trying to say to them, we’re not asking you to look at Disney and be that Disney member of staff. When you go to Florida and you get treated like royalty. We’re literally just asking you to be confident and to just use everyday skills that we all have. So, just acknowledging visitors detecting that they may, I need help and just start with hello.

Kelly Molson: It’s such a powerful word, isn’t it? As you were describing that scenario, I could feel my shoulders just relax a little bit when you said hello, because you’d be like, oh, yes. There’s someone here to help me. Brilliant. You can put yourself in that picture, can’t you?

Kelly Wessell: Yeah.

Kelly Molson: You’ve developed this program with your deputy, Karl, you said earlier. So, you’ve looked at how you bring all this together. What advice would you give to other attractions that are looking to go through this process? Where is the starting point for all of this and how do you work out what this looks like and how you build it?

Kelly Wessell: We went out to the teams out on site, especially the operational teams, just to see what they felt, they needed clarity on. You get the stuff like emergency procedures, like a fire, animal escape that we have. All that stuff, all the fundamentals that we wanted to include to make sure everyone was confident in them. You have your core health and safety stuff, but then we started asking teams about how they felt about customer service.

Looking at training records, had teams even had customer training? I don’t think we’ve had any customer services training for a good couple of years in some of our teams, then looking at what our visitors want, what do we want to do with our visitors? That sounds really a weird way to say that, but do we want to convert them into members? Do we want them to essentially be inspired to be our next generation of keepers or horticulture do want to encourage volunteering?

We asked those teams that look after those areas about how we could then thread that in, and the beauty of QR codes, we all know how to use them now. We’ve armed our team with little lanyard packs now with QR codes that if you want to be a member, you just scan that code and it pops up and you’ll be able to upgrade there and then standing in front of them, help them to do it, as well as volunteering.

Scan code and you’ll be able to see all our volunteering opportunities. We are talking the talk and operation OKAPI is helping us to walk the walk now because we are now giving everyone the tools that they need to be able to give business what they’re asking for. We compiled feedback from all of last year, which was the most huge Excel document.

Kelly Molson: I bet.

Kelly Wessell: That our marketing team pulled together, and we looked at key trends there as well. That was our baseline and our foundation for being able to develop what information we needed to give to teams. Just looking at those trends.

You sometimes read TripAdvisor or Facebook reviews and they don’t make you feel great sometimes. I think, I know teams try hard. I know we are busy, but then stepping back from that and looking at what positives we did have, what negatives we did have, drawing a line and saying, this is what we’re doing about it.

You don’t feel so bad if you read them now because you actually know what we’ve delivered and what we’re asking teams, we know what we’re asking them to do. We can hopefully be confident that any of that negative feedback, hopefully we can address it, or sadly get those people who are just having a really bad day.

We’ve just said to everyone, people will just have a really bad day and that’s fine, as long as you’ve done what we’ve asked and you’ve followed this little nugget of service training, then that’s all we can ask you to do. That’s where we started and how hopefully we will continue moving this forward.

Kelly Molson: The program is in progress now, we’re recording this on the, what is it? The 21st of March. When do you… How will you review the process? I guess, what you’ve just described as to how you’ve gone through the process to put it together, I guess you’ll do that in reverse, right? You’ll start to then review what the reviews are like and the feedback that you’re getting.

Kelly Wessell: Yep. Conveniently our biggest time for membership acquisition is April. We’ve trained everyone and given them all the information about upgrade into membership and all the detail about it in March ahead of what we hope to be a really big busy Easter. We’ve got three weeks of Easter this year.

Between myself and my deputy and the other senior management team, we will start to review our social media and our TripAdvisor reviews from… We’ve targeted from the 1st of April for three weeks and we will see whether any of that narrative changes, but also look at membership acquisition. Has that increased? Have the visits to the QR code that we’ve given the teams, how many visits we had? Has that changed into members or not?

Also, just get live feedback from the team as well on just a roll-in basis. We’ve just sent out a review, those who have attended to just see what else they might need, or if we were to run again, what would they like? What did we miss out? Because this is a learning curve, it’s the first time we’ve done something like this, so we can always grow and learn from it.

Kelly Molson: It’s like you said, it’s about engaging with the feedback and seeing what you can improve on or add for the next one. I guess, same question, we focused on the visitors there and what their experiences is in there and how that’s improved, but how do you monitor it on the flip side? You’ve got a huge team that’s coming back and reengaging with the zoo. How do you assess whether the program has worked from them in terms of their engagement levels?

Kelly Wessell: We, as a duty management team, host briefings every morning with the ops team managers, and then also our volunteers and our engagement team. The first protocol will be to be there, talk to them about it, keep it alive by talking about what we did last week, what we’re hoping to see. Also, just in general, be out on the ground. As one of the senior management teams, one of the best things that you can do is just be visible to those teams and be supportive.

We’ll hear it ourselves. I very often base myself on the exit of the zoo for last 30 minutes to hour for the end of the day, saying goodbye to people, and you just get anecdotal feedback there. Those individuals who didn’t have such a good day normally will tell you, and then you can talk it through with them and hopefully help turn it around there and then.

It’s about going out to those teams who are there face to face and speaking to them and giving them the opportunity to feed it back to us. Creating ways for them to be able to feed back to us, how they’re feeling, and whether they feel confident in delivering what we’ve asked them to do.

Kelly Molson: Kelly, I’ve loved this chat. It really shines through how engaged you are with the zoo and what a special place it is to work at. I have no doubt that your enthusiasm and the program that you’ve put together will pull that through to the whole rest of the team that are coming back now as well.

Kelly Wessell: Oh, I really appreciate that. I really do hope so. I’m super passionate and we want to make the staff’s day as good as a visitors day. You’re giving us your time and we want to make it fun. When it’s fun, the day goes quick. You don’t realise that the day’s gone when you’ve had a great day, so let’s try and make it a great day every day for everyone.

Kelly Molson: Yeah, that’s perfect. It’s a perfect way to end the podcast interview. But I always ask my guests about a book that they love, something, it can be personal, it can be work related.

Kelly Wessell: This book, How to Be a Productivity Ninja. I went to a webinar that ran with an external company, and this book, I haven’t actually opened it because I’ve got a digital copy, but they posted us all one of these after and it was so inspiring.

Working at a zoo, we get so many emails or you get CC’d into so many emails and being part of a senior management team, you do need to know everything that’s going on. But I think at times it’s very overwhelming. We are an email culture now, especially with having to work from home and COVID.

I went to this webinar and got some really amazing tips and tricks on how to manage your time, but also your work and… J’ust learning ways of organising your emails to go into certain folders because it’s not as important for you to look at now or only checking your emails between eight and nine, and actually having your email app closed then for the rest of the day until a set period of time.

There was just some really, really useful tips and tricks that if you are one of those people who is drowning in emails and always trying to get organised, but this has been super helpful. I always go back to it. When you get off the wagon a little bit and you’ll go, oh, things are starting to feel a bit unorganised. I’ll always go back to it, especially my notes from the webinar, but also just having some bookmarks saved that just, yeah. Ground me again and just set me back up.

Kelly Molson: Yeah, that sounds perfect. That sounds like something that we all need right now. I don’t know about you, but I definitely am drowning in emails most days. I do get that anxiety of, oh, God. I’ve got to go out of the office for a few hours, or I’m going to a conference for the day. What am I going to find when I come back from it? Complete and [crosstalk 00:33:36]

Kelly Wessell: Yeah, and I find being in an operational role, if I am in the zoo, I’m not at my desk. I am out and about doing things, I’m speaking to teams, I’m popping in and out of meetings here and there. I do find that when I work from home, that’s my catch up days. That’s when that really helped, because I just need that time to be able to catch back up.

I think people forget that when you are part of ops teams, emails are great, but I’m not going to read it there and then. I’m not going to necessarily do anything about it until I’ve done my ops stuff. Sometimes also people email us too much. We need to be honest about it and say… “Drop me a line and I’ll probably answer the phone quicker than I’ll answer the email.”

Kelly Molson: That’s really good advice actually. Yeah, pick up the phone. It’ll probably get responded to quicker. Yeah.

Kelly Wessell: Yeah.

Kelly Molson: Something that I always try and tell my team actually, if there’s something that needs to be done urgently, you’re actually probably better off phoning than you are emailing, but.

Kelly Wessell: Yeah.

Kelly Molson: Great advice, Kelly, great book as well. Well, if you want to win a copy of Kelly’s book, if you head over to our Twitter account and you retweet this episode announcement with the words, ‘I want Kelly’s book’, then you will be in with a chance of winning it.

Kelly, I’ve really loved this chat today. I think it’s so relevant and so… Just in my head when we chatted, all I was thinking about was people going back to an office and I was like, oh, it’s a bit boring, isn’t it? Do people want to go back to offices? It’s same old, same old. I can’t imagine not being excited about going back to a zoo, but then I’ve never worked in one.

I just think it’s been really interesting to see, to hear the small things that can make such a big difference to your team and to your visitors. So, thank you for coming on and sharing that. I hope you have hope you have a brilliant summer. Come back and talk to us next year and let us know how it’s all gone.

Kelly Wessell: Yeah, definitely.


Do you know someone we should be talking to?

Do you know someone fascinating we should be talking to?

If so, email us at hello@rubbercheese.com – we’ll get back to you shortly.

Paul Wright.
Kelly Molson Managing Director

Host of the popular Skip the Queue Podcast, for people working in or working with visitor attractions, she regularly delivers workshops and presentations on the sector at various national conferences and universities including The Visitor Attractions Conference, ASVA and Anglia Ruskin University.

Read more about me

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