Water Parks - January 2017

Aquatic Leaders Upbeat About Industry’s Present, Future

by James Careless

The present is prosperous for the world’s water park industry, and the future looks promising, as well. Such was the good news delivered by knowledgeable water park players during “An Afternoon with Aquatic Industry Leaders.” It was deftly moderated by Chris Perry, CEO of WhiteWater West Southeast Asia Co. Ltd.

The water park industry is experiencing “tremendous growth with almost 30 percent growth at the top 20 parks globally” from 2010 to 2015, said AECOM V.P. Brian Sands in conversation with Perry. This works out to nearly 6 percent annual growth, while the global economy only grew 2 percent annually during the same period. He cited the increasing number of large resorts with water parks, innovation in water park rides, and the industry’s expansion into new territories as helping to drive this growth.       

“A ‘water park’ is not a bad word to resorts anymore,” agreed Ken Ellis, president/CEO of Aquatic Development Group Inc. “They’ve accepted it.”

Hand-in-hand with the increasing number of water parks is their individuality and crowd-pleasing distinctiveness, with the industry resisting the temptation to create cookie-cutter facilities. “They’re all different,” said Chuck Newman, founder of Water Technology Inc. (WTI). “They all have personality.”

Earlier in the day, Christina Miranda explored how water parks can generate media buzz and drive sales during “Creating Events That Get Your Water Park Noticed.” The principal of Redpoint Marketing PR, Miranda admitted “events can be a real pain in the neck, but they can also be a lot of fun and produce a real ROI.”

To achieve ROI, water park planners have to create events defined by the goals they are expected to produce. To reach these objectives, managers need to first determine the purposes of the event—is it to create revenue, drive attention/awareness of the water park, or reward guests? Then they should tailor the event to measurably directly achieve those goals.

To make this point, Miranda introduced Maggie Warner, public relations manager with Morey’s Piers & Beachfront Resorts, to talk about the park’s “Gone to the Dogs” special event. At the end of every summer season since 2013, Morey’s Piers has opened its water park to dogs and their owners as a buzz-generating charitable event.

Its purpose is for dog owners to “experience our water park and see everything we have to offer,” said Warner. Combined with lots of great swimming-dog videos and photos, this pool party garners Morey’s Piers a wealth of good press and posts on social media.

In fact, “Gone to the Dogs” has generated so much buzz over its lifespan Morey’s Piers no longer pays to advertise it: The park just posts the details on social media.

“It all comes to ‘what’s your goal,’” concluded Miranda. “Gone to the Dogs” certainly illustrates how goal-centered events can achieve solid results for water parks.