Feature Article - April 2011
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Ascending on a Budget

Making Money-Smart Decisions With Climbing Walls

By Daniel P. Smith

Traverse Panels

A private facility filled with inflatables and game tables, a common destination for private parties and open jump sessions since its October 2010 opening, Texas-based Jump On In wows guests with its 8-foot high and 16-foot wide traversing panel wall.

Unlike most climbing walls, which send participants up, traversing panels direct users to move laterally. Among the most economical climbing wall options, even if not the most daring and technical with a maximum height of 8 to 10 feet, traversing panels remain a wonderful option for kid-friendly establishments such as Jump On In.

Eager to offer an amenity that would attract business, Jump On In owner Carol Sumrall turned to traverse panels as a fun and exciting play option for kids, yet one that would not increase her staffing. Traverse panels were her immediate target, confident the system would perfectly fit an inherent niche in her space's physical layout and add a climbing attraction that was both easy to install and cost-effective.

"I can make the wall as big as I want or as wide as I want, and I love that flexibility," said Sumrall, who is considering adding four additional panels to her wall to make it 24 feet wide. "Even better, the wall can hold a lot of participants, yet doesn't take up that much space."

Immediately upon walking into Sumrall's gym, the wall catches guests' eyes, an appealing option for potential guests touring the new facility as a private party venue.

"The wall gets a response and certainly helps us book parties," Sumrall said. "It makes us stand out."