At OWO, visitor numbers can fluctuate dramatically depending on conditions that impact visibility. How can it optimize resources to ensure the right employee-to-visitor ratio, whatever the weather?
OWO teamed up with The Weather Company to refine its forecasting capabilities, unlocking eye-opening new insights and helping the operations team plan more effectively for different scenarios.
Revealsnew insights into the relationship between weather and visitor numbers
Improvesaccuracy of business forecasts with data-driven evidence
Boostsconfidence when making resource scheduling decisions
Business challenge story
Delivering a stellar experience
Millions of tourists flock to the Big Apple each year, with many of them making pilgrimage to one of the city’s observatories to take in the famous skyline. Towering above all Manhattan’s iconic skyscrapers is One World Trade Center, the tallest building in the Western Hemisphere—and home to One World Observatory (OWO), which sits 1,250 feet above ground level on floors 100, 101 and 102.
In just 47 seconds, multimedia virtual glass elevators called SkyPods whisk visitors up to the 102nd floor, where guests experience the city’s largest observation deck. Aloft, guests will find multimedia experiences, a wealth of knowledge imparted by the Observatory’s tour ambassadors, a full-service café, a bar and premium restaurant with outstanding views, and a large gift shop.
Visitors can enjoy 360-degree views of the city and its famous waterways, including the Statue of Liberty, Brooklyn Bridge and the surrounding region; and on a clear day, they can see to the distant horizon, nearly 55 miles away.
Raymond Bianco, Managing Director of Marketing at Legends, the company that operates OWO, begins: “As the city’s highest observatory, we are highly sensitive to the weather. On clear, fine days we see peaks in the number of visitors, while on cloudy days, tourists may decide to reprogram their schedules and wait for better weather.
“Because we are so much more than just an observation deck, our ratio of personnel to potential guests is high—we have observatory ambassadors, tour guides, professional catering and wait staff, security and so on. We need to ensure that we always have the right number of staff on site to provide the best experience for visitors, so knowing how the weather will affect our guests’ choices is a crucial factor in our decision-making.”
In the past, OWO relied on publicly available meteorological data to help it plan work schedules, but it lacked predictive long-term weather insights. This not only made day-to-day operational planning difficult, it also increased variability in financial projections and business forecasts.
Raymond Bianco remarks: “We wanted to find out how far in advance we could anticipate the visibility level for a given day, and to what degree of confidence we could tune our models to accurately reflect the guest demand.”
Lifting the clouds
Eager to get a better grip on weather-related opportunities, OWO decided to augment its own meteorological knowhow with the expertise of The Weather Company, an IBM Business.
Raymond Bianco comments: “We had already done a great deal of useful work with publicly available weather data—but we wanted to understand the relationship between visibility and visitor numbers with even greater precision. When we met the Weather Company team, we were confident that they would be the right people to help us take the next step.”
Working closely with data scientists from The Weather Company over the course of a 30-day project, the OWO team used Weather Signals to model ticketing data from its opening in 2014 to the present day against historical weather data. The team was able to pinpoint precisely how the weather affected ticket sales, and even quantify its impact on total revenues.
Alyssa Streem, Manager, CRM and Data Analytics at Legends, recalls: “We investigated how the weather affected both same-day tickets and advance sales, and the project concluded with a comprehensive presentation showcasing how well weather pattern predictions stacked up against the real thing. Communication with The Weather Company team was great, and we enjoyed working with them.”
Sunny days ahead
Armed with concrete, data-driven insights into how the weather impacts its business, OWO’s operations team can make smarter employee scheduling decisions, helping to optimize staffing to efficiently deliver an outstanding observatory experience, even on low- or zero-visibility days.
“The results of the Weather Signals project were genuinely eye-opening,” says Raymond Bianco. “We identified strong patterns in the datasets that not only validated our own estimates of ticket sales on sunny days versus rainy and foggy days, but also provided brand-new insights.
“For example, the analysis revealed that there is a cut-off point in terms of humidity—once the relative humidity goes over 82 percent, there’s a clear difference in visitation. It’s something we’d never even thought about before, but that we will definitely factor into our planning going forward.”
Based on this finding, OWO was able to reforecast the business, as Raymond Bianco explains: “Being able to show the impact of humidity and other weather conditions on visitor numbers with such accuracy has improved our ability to perform sales and financial performance forecasts.”
As well as uncovering new insights, the Weather Signals project has also given OWO a deeper understanding of the trends it was already tracking.
“By validating our findings with The Weather Company, we’ve given the entire team much more confidence,” concludes Raymond Bianco. “The project represents an important shift, empowering managers with empirical evidence to help them with both day-to-day decision-making and longer-term planning.”
About One World Observatory
Positioned on top of the tallest building in the Western Hemisphere, on levels 100, 101 and 102 of the One World Trade Center building, the One World Observatory offers visitors panoramic views of New York City, its most iconic sites and surrounding waters. This unique attraction is operated by Legends, a leading hospitality service provider based in New York.
Take the next step
The Weather Company, an IBM Business, helps people make informed decisions and take action in the face of weather. The company offers the most accurate forecasts globally with personalized and actionable weather data and insights to millions of consumers, as well as thousands of marketers and businesses via Weather’s API, its business solutions division, and its own digital products from The Weather Channel (weather.com) and Weather Underground (wunderground.com).
The company delivers around 25 billion forecasts daily. Its products include the world’s most downloaded weather app, a network of 250,000 personal weather stations, a top-20 U.S. website, one of the world’s largest IoT data platforms, and industry-leading business solutions.
Weather Means Business™. The world’s biggest brands in aviation, energy, insurance, media, and government rely on The Weather Company for data, technology platforms and services to help improve decision-making and respond to weather’s impact on business.
For more, visit business.weather.com.