All 13 Huron-Clinton Metropark locations, including Stony Creek Metropark, began scanning annual park passes May 1.

All 13 Huron-Clinton Metropark locations, including Stony Creek Metropark, began scanning annual park passes May 1.

Photo provided by Huron-Clinton Metroparks


New Metropark barcode passes to be used to track ZIP codes

By: Mary Beth Almond | C&G Newspapers | Published May 8, 2019

METRO DETROIT — The Huron-Clinton Metroparks’ 2019 season pass has a new feature: a barcode that park staff will scan when visitors enter any of the authority’s 13 locations.

Huron-Clinton Metropolitan Authority Director Amy McMillan said the barcode was added for the first time this year so Metroparks staff can track which ZIP codes pass users are coming from and which Metroparks they are visiting to create better experiences, amenities and programming within the park system.

“We’re asking for ZIP codes to see, largely, where our customers are coming from, are we doing a good job reaching out to people, and where there may be gaps in visitorship so that we can do a better job in sharing information about areas that may be underrepresented in terms of attendance,” she explained.

Metropark officials said they’re only asking for and tracking ZIP codes.

“There’s been a lot of confusion out there — that we are seeing on our Facebook and in calls to the office — with some people thinking we are trying to capture a lot of information and (wanting) to know what we’re doing with that information and if we are selling it. But all we’re doing with the barcode is capturing the ZIP code,” said David Kirbach, the  deputy director of the authority. “That’s the only thing we’re going after — ZIP codes.”

By analyzing the ZIP code data of park users, the authority hopes it can also uncover a few underrepresented municipalities on which to focus marketing efforts.

“In 2007, our attendance was approximately a little over 10 million people. In 2017, that dropped to a little over 7 million people, so we are trying to figure out what the cause of that is,” Kirbach said. “We’ve never tracked where people come from … so we haven’t had any good data to try to solve this problem.”

Park staff began scanning the new barcodes at all 13 park locations May 1, and Kirbach said the new process hasn’t really slowed down the lines into the parks.

“I’ve been watching some of the tollbooth attendants go through this since (May 1), and they just scan the barcode, put the ZIP code into their computer. The next time the person comes through, we will still scan the barcode, but the ZIP code will already be loaded, so it will pop up on the computer and we just wave them through,” he said.

If someone is uncomfortable sharing their ZIP code, Metropark officials said park staff will respect that choice.

“If somebody really feels like they don’t want to give us their ZIP code, that’s fine. We’ll just thank them very much for coming to the park and wave them right on through,” he said.

Annual passes cost $35 per vehicle and provide access to all 13 Huron-Clinton Metroparks. They are valid from the time of purchase until Dec. 31, 2019.

To find the Metropark closest to you, visit metroparks.com.