Updating your aquatic facility and programming without going overboard
By Kelli Anderson
If your aquatic facility still sports a color scheme that screams '70s, or you can't remember the last time it added a new feature, chances are you are well overdue for an update. For many facilities, however, it's not a matter of knowing that change is needed, it's knowing how to make the change. Renovations can be overwhelming and expensive, but with insightful evaluations and savvy tricks of the consultant and designer trade, your facility and its programming can go from outdated to top-rated on less than you think.
Knowing what needs to be changed most, when and how comes primarily from three sources: the clients, the staff and design professionals. The first and probably most important source of information is your customer. Ultimately, they're the users who sit on the deck chairs, turn on the showers and know what they want and—just as importantly—don't want. A feasibility study or questionnaire given to both clients and staff can provide invaluable insights into features to add and elements that need to be changed.
Although only channeling the perspective of you guests without the aid of a real survey is not usually recommended, managers can gain some helpful insights by walking, sitting and using the facility the way a client would. For example, sitting in the lounge area and seeing the facility from the client's vantage point might reveal an unsightly view out the front window that had heretofore gone unnoticed and unaddressed. Be a guest in your own facility and see it with new eyes.
Whether it's community input sessions, client surveys, staff input or professional feasibility studies, finding out what people want will be time and money well spent.
"You have to start with members and employees," says Romayne Eaker-Kelly, recreation director for the city of Summit, N.J. "They know your facility even better than you and they have great ideas. A survey was extremely valuable. We learned a lot, and our members got what they wanted."