Problem Solver - August 2008
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Providing Shade, Increasing Revenue at Aquatic Facilities

When people head for the pool or waterpark, they are expecting to get a lot of fun in the sun. But smart aquatic facility directors know that providing a shady spot is also key to ensuring patrons enjoy themselves—and protect themselves from the risks of too much exposure to sun and heat. Shady spots give patrons a place to cool off and get out of the sun.

However, your patrons aren't the only ones who will benefit when you add shade to your facility. If you plan carefully and add just the right mix of shade structures, umbrellas and cabanas, you might find clever new ways to boost your revenues, as well.

Q: We want to make our facility more attractive, while giving patrons a place to get out of the sun. What should we consider?

A: Fabric shade structures are an ideal solution. Available in a wide range of colors and styles, you can make your facility more aesthetically appealing by adding geometric bursts of color throughout.

There are styles to suit a wide variety of facilities, so you'll be able to find one that matches the colors of your facility, or you can create an entirely new aesthetic and color scheme. For example, you can find wave-like shade structures that mimic the movement of water with peaks and valleys—ideal for your aquatic facility.

In addition to beautifying your facility, you'll be increasing safety for your patrons. High-density polyethylene mesh fabric shade structures block up to 96 percent of the sun's harmful UV rays. The fabric is porous, allowing for cool air circulation to reduce temperatures underneath by as much as 30 percent. So in addition to beautifying your facility, you'll reduce patrons' risk of getting sunburn, sun stroke, heat exhaustion and skin cancer.

Q: We struggle to break even with our aquatic facilities. Is there a way we can increase our revenues?

A: The good news is that a fabric shade structure represents one of the lowest-cost options for adding sun protection to your facility. And that good news gets even better when you consider the clever ways facilities are using their shade structures to increase their revenues.

You can rent out larger structures as picnic areas or for poolside parties. Or you can add cabanas and provide them on a rental basis—or even as an add-on to a season pass for families that use your facility regularly. Cabanas provide shade while offering a semi-private retreat from the pool. If you want to make them even more attractive you can add optional accessories like brackets for fans and lights.

Q: Where should we add shade structures?

A: Think about your patrons' needs. In addition to cabanas and structures for rental, you should include umbrellas and structures at poolside for those who need to take a quick break from the sun.

And don't forget your staff. In addition to reminding your lifeguards to slather on the sunscreen, you can further protect them from the risks of UV exposure by providing a shade structure over the lifeguard chair.

Q: What else should we consider?

A: Look for high-quality products from manufacturers willing to offer a comprehensive warranty on the fabric and the structure. High-density polyethylene fabric effectively blocks up to 96 percent of the sun's rays. A mesh construction also allows the heat to escape, keeping patrons cooler. Look for structures that can stand up to high winds, snow and more, as well.

Sun Ports: