Supplement Feature - February 2013
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Programming for Profit

A Strong Business Model Plus Creative Programming Can Keep Your Aquatics in the Black

By Rick Dandes

Pay to Play?

Running an efficient operation with diverse programs, keeping patrons happy and still keeping to a business model that will keep you in the black often begins with the design of your facility, Lauenstein added. "Is the facility worth paying for? Do your pools and features accommodate programs for a wide range of patrons?"

For example, he said, a deep-water lap pool is almost always a guaranteed money loser. More and more consideration is being given to moveable floors in those pools, so the owner can program a variety of ages and skill levels by varying the floor height. There are designs that would actually allow owners to turn the deck of the moveable floor into a splashpad with removable features.

Entertainment value is a big factor in profitability. You must engage children so that it becomes a family destination. Simple additions such as slides or adding another body of water such as a small lazy river can turn a facility into a money-maker. These features have multiple program uses such as water walking, reverse current swim training and general recreation. The facility now becomes worthy of birthday parties and group rentals.

"A small wave pool can actually be three pools in one: waves for fun and profits, lane swimming for training and exercise, and a zero-depth pool with play features," Lauenstein said. Being creative in your design will open new doors to new patrons and revenue.

Aquatic facilities must also stay relevant in their program offerings by providing a more complete schedule of healthy lifestyle exercise and aerobics classes, combined with a new trend of "pay to play" outdoor sports taught by experts at the facility or in the field.

White agreed with Lauenstein and Lococo. One of the best ways to generate additional revenue is to understand the concept of cross programming, she said, "where the pool should be full the entire time it is open and not just with one thing. In the past, you'd have time carved out with a swim team,or time carved out for water aerobics lessons. But you really have to go out and run concurrently two, three or even four activities at the same time to maximize the pool space. Obviously, you have to put in programs that are compatible with each other. You can't have something that uses loud music, which would interfere with something of a quiet nature going on."