Feature Article - January 2004
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Pool Profitability

Revenue-generating ideas to help keep your budget afloat

By Stacy St. Clair


Tropicanoe Cove in Lafayette, Ind., also knows how critical careful management can be. Like all Midwest waterparks, the facility can grapple with uncooperative weather much of the summer.

In total, half a recent season's days were either rainy or cooler than 80 degrees. Still, the facility managed to net a small profit.

Park officials, for example, took great care to make sure they weren't overstaffed. If cool weather emptied the park, managers sent employees home rather than have them guard a vacant pool.

"Controlling your expenses is just as important as any ride," says Vicki Mayes, director of the Lafayette Parks and Recreation Department.

No business plan, however, will do more for the bottom line than customer service. Patrons don't like to feel overcharged and warm to niceties such as free parking and the ability to bring food into the park.

"Success depends upon returning guests," Water World's Loose says. "We want to treat our guests well."

Fun Features

It doesn't always have to be a colossal slide like Storm.

Smaller pools and waterparks can increase interest and revenue by adding splash play areas, cannons and bucket games.

The features are easily added to facilities without major renovations or expense. They have become a popular solution for facilities with limited space and budgets.

"Anything the kids can control and spray their friends with is pretty popular," aquatic expert Susan Baker says.

Baker points to Great Bridge YMCA in Chesapeake, Va., as an example of how a few changes can improve a facility. The aquatic center, which has a slide, recently added some smaller features.

The simple improvements earned the facility first-place honors from the National Spa and Pool Institute in 2002.

"Sometimes it can make a big difference by just adding a few features to the existing facility," Baker says.

The industry has become extremely creative as well, with an impressive array of water features and themes. The splash play areas, for example, are now being marketed with medieval, western, nautical and fire station themes, to name a few.

The fire station play area, for example, has a truck that shoots out water when various pedals and brakes are pushed. The nautical theme boasts a flag that can be raised and lowered on the ship's mast, depending on how many holes are covered on an interactive water pad.