Feature Article - June 2009
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General Survey Results


elcome to Recreation Management's 2009 State of the Industry Report, where we peel back the layers to look at the inner workings of the managed recreation, sports and fitness industry. If you've been privy to past reports, you know what kind of information you're likely to find in these pages. If this is your first time joining us, know that you can look forward to learning about major trends impacting facilities like yours across the country, from budget challenges to investments in facilities, programs and services for the public and much more.

The research contained in these pages in based on an extensive survey, conducted by Signet Research Inc., an independent research company. From February 10 to March 2, we collected 2,064 responses from recreation, sports and fitness professionals from across the country and around the world.

Survey Methodology

Signet Research Inc., an independent research company, sent an e-mail broadcast on Feb. 10, 2009, to nearly 21,000 subscribers to Recreation Management, who were invited to participate in the online survey. When the survey closed on March 2, 2,064 responses had been collected, for a 10 percent response rate. The findings of this survey may be accepted as accurate, at a 95 percent confidence level, within a sampling tolerance of approximately +/- 2.2 percent.

What we call an "Industry Report" might more correctly be termed an "Industries Report." Recreation may be the broad brushstroke that unites the respondents whose information we have collected on these pages, but within that broader picture there is an extremely wide range of colorful approaches, from nonprofit YMCAs to for-profit health clubs, from government-funded parks and recreation centers to privately supported ballparks, from colleges and schools that unite their students in wellness to camps that give those students something to do during their summer breaks.

But despite their many ways of doing business, it is the service of offering recreation, sports and fitness activities to the public that unites these organizations. And that's not all that unites them. Although they may operate differently, there are overarching themes that impact the entire industry: savvy business practices and budget management—whether you're operating for profit or for the public—that ensure your facility stays in the black; the need to ensure properties and facilities are well-maintained, occasionally updated and serving patrons' needs and desires with the right amenities and programs; the challenges of hiring and training staff members; the need to get the word out to let existing and potential patrons know about existing opportunities and creative new programs they'll find beyond your door or gate; the imperative to ensure they are safe once inside; and much, much more.

No matter your mode of operating, you'll be sure to find some nuggets of information on these pages that will help you, whether you're looking to compare how you're sailing in these rough economic waters with others across the country or you want to figure out who's spending how much to build new facilities in your region. We welcome you to dig right in by reading this first section, which considers the industry as a whole, with occasional breakdowns by facility type; or to turn to the sections in the pages that follow that consider regional information, as well as more specific data on aquatic facilities; parks and recreation departments; colleges and universities; schools and school districts; health, sports and fitness clubs; and nonprofit entities like YMCAs, YWCAs, JCCs and Boys & Girls Clubs.