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Feature Article - June 2018

2018 State of the Managed Recreation Industry

A Look At What's Happening in Recreation, Sports & Fitness Facilities

By Emily Tipping



It's June, and that means it's time once again to add up the results of our extensive survey to present the State of the Industry Report. Now a dozen years running, this report highlights the opinions and summarizes the information provided by a range of professionals, mostly decision-makers, working in the recreation, sports and fitness industry. Here we offer you the most up-to-date information and trends in the industry, providing a deep look into various aspects of the market, from budgets and staffing to construction plans, programming and much more.

Around a decade ago, as the Great Recession took hold, it was fascinating to watch as the Industry Report survey results shifted, reflecting the various timelines when facilities began to feel the squeeze in their operating budgets, revenues, construction plans and even membership. As the economy has recovered, so have most of the facilities we cover here, though some have recovered more slowly than others, and facilities like colleges and universities, as well as schools and school districts still face unique challenges to their budgets and operations.

Over time, respondents have generally grown more optimistic, and the past few years have seen budgets increase, revenues rise, staffing cuts drop off and construction plans and budgets grow.

Over the course of these pages, we provide you with a detailed look at the responses collected via our annual 50-question survey, allowing you a peek into the current state of affairs, while also providing a hint to future trends that will have an impact on the management, construction, planning, programming, marketing, staffing and operations of recreation, sports and fitness facilities, from parks and summer camps to aquatic parks and college recreation centers, from YMCAs and health clubs to schools and more.

But before we dig in, allow me to take this moment to sincerely thank each and every reader who took the time to participate in our extensive survey. We know it's daunting, and the fact that you took the time to provide this detailed information illustrates how important the industry is to you, and that the results, which you are reading now, are meaningful. We couldn't do it without your enthusiasm and cooperation, reader! Thank you!

The report begins with a general summary of the survey results, considering how the entire survey population of nearly 1,600 respondents answered. In addition, here and there we will break down survey responses to show how they vary in terms of organization type, community type and industry sector. Then, on the following pages, we'll break the data down and take a closer look at the more specific information gleaned from your responses. This begins on page 40 with a look at the results broken down by regions of the country. From there, we take an in-depth look at the responses from participants whose facilities include aquatic elements (see page 50).

After that, we break things down according to the largest segments of our survey population, which includes parks and recreation organizations (see page 64), colleges and universities (see page 72), schools and school districts (see page 78), health clubs (see page 84), and Ys, JCCs and Boys & Girls Clubs (see page 88). Once you've waded through all of this information, head over to our website at RecManagement.com, where we provide exclusive online stories looking more closely at camps and community centers. Also, stay tuned in to our Rec Report newsletter, where we'll be providing additional information throughout the year that is not published in this report, highlighting a different statistic every week. And finally, be sure to keep an eye out for the July 2018 issue, where we'll discuss career and salary trends in our annual Salary Survey report.

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