Problem Solver - August 2008
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Getting More Patrons in the Pool

Aquatic facilities do not have a reputation as being big money-makers. Many barely break even or are subsidized by other programs and facilities in their cities. But many cities have been calling on their recreation directors and aquatic facility managers to at least break even. That can be challenging, given that aquatic facilities start off with such high operating costs to begin with.

However, by expanding your programming capabilities and ensuring that your facility is flexible enough to attract patrons of all kinds by offering something for every audience in your community, you can increase your pool's payoff.

Q: We serve a broad community with divergent interests. How can we ensure we are meeting all of our existing patrons' needs, while attracting new users to our aquatic facility?

A: Start by taking a close look at who's using your pools now, and when. You don't want to lose those crucial customers, but you do want to expand to reach others. Are you scheduling programs wisely? For example, lap swimmers may be dedicated users at your pool, but when they're swimming, that means the number of people in the pool is limited.

Maximize your programming ability by scheduling lap swimming for hours when your pool won't be seeing a lot of recreational use. This leaves prime hours open for recreational swim—a great way to maximize the number of people in your pool.

You also might consider expanding your programming and outreach to get people in the water who might not otherwise show up. Aquatic exercise programs and aqua-therapy classes are just two ways to reach a wider audience.

Q: Our pool doesn't include a lot of amenities: just water to splash and swim in. Are there some simple additions we can employ to make our facility more inviting?

A: Every kid loves a waterslide, and they're relatively simple to add at poolside. Just be sure to check with your manufacturer to find out what slides are appropriate for various ages and water depths. There are slides that work for water depths as low as three feet, perfect for the shallow area of your pool where the toddlers play. And there are much larger slides for the bigger kids. Manufacturers offer these slides in a rainbow of colors, so you can easily make your pool more eye-catching at the same time you make it more fun.

You can also expand beyond the traditional swim team practice times by offering other types of competitive action. Water polo, for example, is growing in popularity, and you can find water polo goals that meet U.S. Water Polo regulations and are simple to install, as well as to remove and store out of the way when it's time for other programs.

Q: We have all kinds of different users at our pool, from disabled patrons taking part in aqua-therapy classes to recreational swim times and competitions for our swim teams. How can we adapt quickly to changing needs?

A: One problem facilities encounter when offering a wide array of programs is finding ways to make the amenities surrounding the pool more flexible. Luckily, you can find a tool to make many of your previously anchored amenities go mobile. A mobile anchor transport system will make your pool more flexible.

Whether you need to get an anchored guard chair to a different location, move your assisted access lift and replace it with a starting platform for a swim meet, or you want to add a basketball hoop for recreational swimmers, you can use this mobile anchor transport system to bring just what you need where you need it. Items that were previously anchored to the pool deck can now be moved around the deck, into storage or from pool to pool.

Spectrum Products: