Launch - In Depth - October 2018

Software Management Solutions for Water Parks

Peek behind the slides at major water parks around the world, and find software management systems quietly supporting the sound of splashes and squeals of glee. The network running the operation can be as crucial to the park’s operations as the water slides it offers. 

CENTER EDGE SOFTWARESherry Howell, brand engagement director for CenterEdge Software, headquartered in Roxboro, North Carolina, provides management solutions to attractions operations. Funworld asked Howell what software solutions can strengthen and provide peace of mind for water park operations.

FW: What are the important software factors a new water park, or a park looking to make upgrades, should consider during design, planning, and construction? 

Sherry Howell: First impressions are everything, so consider where and how you’re going to welcome guests into your park. Will you allow guests to purchase daily admissions, passes, and concession packages at the same station they’ll check in for events or memberships?

Be sure to consider access control processes; you’ll need to decide if your park will use turnstiles, handheld scanners with wristbands, or membership cards to allow guests entrance into your attractions. You also need access control software that integrates with your point-of-sale to track throughput and in-park spending, which also delivers accurate reporting for you to analyze the profitability of your offerings, manage labor, and track expenditures. 

What kind of dining options will you offer? Will your park contain different restaurants, cafes, and quick-service stations, as well as mobile carts? Be on the lookout for software that can support selling these unique food options, as well as manage sale of your general park offerings.

FW: Regarding facility management, what unique challenges do water parks confront that other attractions might not? 

SH: Guests in water parks are wet, so things like admission tickets, cash, and credit cards are cumbersome [and] guests tend to place their wallets and purses in a locker. So paper- and hands-free media like waterproof wristbands that store the value of credit cards, tokens, passes, and memberships allow guests to spend money more conveniently. It’s also important to consider a facility management software solution that can support spending limits for individual or family memberships, secure liability waivers, and [store] locker and cabana rentals, parking and merchandise discounts, and other loyalty perks. 

Also, due to the sheer size of many water parks, inventory management can be an issue. Operators will need to be able to receive and track supplies, goods, and merchandise in multiple stockrooms for sale in different areas or divisions of their parks. 

FW: Cashless purchasing is important to revenue generation. What factors should a park consider before adopting a cashless system? 

SH: Payment and access technology changes rapidly. Before adopting a cashless system, a water park should determine if their access control technology is integrated with the point of sale to have important guest throughput data combined with guest spending. Cashless payment media can offer a park significant increases in cashier efficiency, manage cash control, and provide a seamless, easy experience for guests.

FW: In addition to food and beverage, retail purchasing, and locker access, what other functions can be incorporated into the guests’ cashless wristband or other device? 

SH: RFID contactless technology, often found on wristbands or cards, offers functionality of guest passes for admissions and perks, as well as increased spending convenience. It also reduces purchase barriers when guests don’t have to reach for their wallet for every water bottle or ice cream cone they purchase, making it easier to engage with your park.

FW: Employees like lifeguards, who spend their day in the water, also don’t want to carry items in their pockets. How can an effective software system assist employees who get wet? 

SH: Consider wristbands for your staff that allow them the same ease of use as a guest when purchasing break shift meals. Then make it easy with credit limits for team members coupled with payroll deductions, or preload a team member’s band weekly or per pay period with an “allowance” for meals. Don’t forget these same bands can be used to identify the team member for discount tracking and even access to their point-of-sale stations or for clocking in/out for their shifts.

FW: What are the most commonly overlooked elements of software management by water parks? 

SH: Often [they] underestimate the need for an integrated solution. A water park could manage its operation with admission software, a separate access control solution, one for inventory, and so on. Integrated solutions give front-line team members one software to learn and regularly interact with, while an operator has one place to add and edit inventory, manage pricing, book, and manage events, all with reporting from each division in one place to determine operational performance. Also keep in mind that your online store is simply an extension of your in-park store, and your software solution should allow you to manage both seamlessly.