Feature Article - May 2010
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Behind the Scenes

Recreational Locker Rooms, Restrooms More Refined

By Kellye Whitney

Plan Well for the Optimal Experience

Because patrons are included at the beginning and at the end of discussions around design and sustainability, they should also be included in the planning stages.

Unfortunately, Bouck said that the way people experience a facility, its locker rooms and support facilities often are second thoughts behind the design and external appearance of a building.

"That's not how people experience buildings," he explained. "I guarantee you, if you interview community folks about their experiences using these buildings, they very rarely will be able to tell you the color of the titanium spire on the outside of the building, but they can tell you if there was enough light in the bathroom, if it was easy to find, and if it was easy to manage their kids in and out of there. They're going to notice when there's not enough light, when they don't have enough elbow room, when there aren't enough family locker rooms for them, and most importantly, when you walk into the family locker room [if] it's dry and clean and the surfaces—the choices that were made around those—are appropriate and lead the operator to success."

Bouck said that involving the maintenance staff and those who are responsible for customer care issues early in the planning process can help as they have the inside track on customer preferences and common concerns. But often these people aren't consulted; other priorities get in the way.

"It's kind of the backwards way of doing it," Bouck said. "Get buy-in by asking those folks, 'How can you be successful, and how can you create the kind of customer experience that we want?' The customer experience in a public facility needs to be prevalent. A lot of people say, 'It's a public facility. You get what you get.' But it doesn't have to be that way. We can learn a lot from what's going on in the retail world and the private sector, but we can also just listen to our customers, and if we can give them what they want it's not going to cost any more. If we plan well, we can do a great job with it."