Problem Solver - August 2007
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Improving Patronage for an Outdoor Pool

Our facility has an outdoor pool that allows for limited use due to inclement weather. What can we do to improve our facility so that it benefits our existing members and attracts new patrons?

This is one of the most pressing issues facing outdoor pools today. For many aquatic centers, the only time to make money is the three months between Memorial Day and Labor Day. How do you sell a membership in the dead of January, when the pool is drained and covered? Chances are you don't-and those potential patrons take their business elsewhere.

To eliminate this obstacle, an increasing number of centers have moved to year-round facilities with the help of custom-made pool environments. These enclosures not only allow for more programming, their aesthetic value also makes the recreation facility more attractive to patrons.

Such a move undoubtedly would make your club a premier spot for health and relaxation. Swimming has long been associated with outstanding exercise and therapeutic benefits. Pools and spas provide unrivaled opportunities for vigorous workouts and relaxation. A year-round aquatic facility will make your center a club of choice in the area, boosting interest from both present clientele and new members. Depending on your local climate, enclosures allow patrons to take a dip during heavy wind, rain, snow and winter cold-conditions that make outdoor swimming prohibitive.

Enclosing your pool, however, doesn't mean surrendering the outdoors. The best systems offer aquatic opportunities in all seasons. Consider a motorized opening roof system that lets natural sunlight flood the enclosure during pleasant weather. Sliding glass doors with screens add natural ventilation and a light, airy atmosphere. A low-voltage drive motor, with built-in manual override in case of a power outage, operates the opening panels. With a flip of a switch, the roof can be closed when the weather is inclement.

The retractable roofs bring other obvious and not-so-obvious benefits. The roofs can fill 40 percent of the aquatic center with natural light, which provides an important psychological boost during the dreary winter months. Their ability to open and close also offers an easy way to help regulate air quality. Be sure the roof panels are made of polycarbonate-a tough, translucent, resin-based plastic-because it allows the natural light in while protecting against ultraviolet rays.

Pool enclosures also offer the benefit of added safety. They eliminate the prevalence of fence jumpers looking to cause trouble after hours. Managers can bolster members' safety by simply locking the doors to the pool when it's unsupervised.

Once you have a year-round facility, take time to look at the population in your area and find out what would be attractive to old and new members. For seniors, water aerobics and mild water activities offer a welcome relief for arthritis. For working members, extended evening hours allow for more use of the pool and other activities. Swimming programs for children and family swim times also serve as membership pleasers. With a year-round enclosed pool, there's almost no end to the possibilities that you can offer your patrons.

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