Feature Article - September 2014
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Riding the Wave of Success

Waterparks Find New & Creative Ways to Stay Afloat

By Kelli Ra Anderson

Cutting Costs

Raising new revenue with creative programming, events and new ride attractions certainly is one side of the financial equation. Saving money is the other. Those lucky enough start from scratch will find new water ride designs are more water-efficient than their predecessors, cutting down on water usage and energy costs. Today there are many more energy and cost-saving options to be found throughout a park's overall design.

With the advent of variable frequency drives, LED lights, and the latest filters and pumps, energy reduction and cost savings are much easier than for parks built even a decade ago. However, even in remodeling and upgrading, it's never too late to take advantage of cost-saving features like auto-sensors in bathrooms, showers and toilets, timers on lights, or water recycling systems to offset domestic water use.

But where many parks are finding their biggest savings is with their biggest overhead cost: staffing. "As far as decreasing overhead, our biggest overhead is our staff, so we have reevaluated where we need lifeguards (shallow vs. deep water), and we're looking at different things with our shifts so that we cut back depending on the number of people coming in each day," Flinn said.

Paying attention to peak and non-peak hours and adjusting staff accordingly has become even easier thanks to a computer program that also tracks staff schedules more efficiently at Casino Beach. With younger staff so accustomed to the internet, putting schedules online has also been a great time saver, allowing everyone access to everything. From job applications to day-to-day communication, the computer program and online presence has been a time saver.

It's also one of the reasons turnover at Casino Beach has been so low and saves money from needless retraining of new staff. "Preventing turnover is critical, too," Flinn said. "We try to keep people happy—it's the little things because people aren't just there to put in hours. We try to cater to them and their needs."

Among the perks of the job, guards and staff enjoy their own break room, have the park open to them for night slides, get discounts on food and merchandise and enjoy sponsored employee events and a ball club. Significant savings also have come in the form of making one simple change—closing at 7 p.m. instead of 8 p.m.

"Sometimes it's not rocket science," Kneupper concluded. "A few years ago we had to make sure dollars went as far as they could go. If you have limited finances, ask your guests. They may ask for super-expensive things but you might see they only want simple things: more shade, nicer loungers or improved bathrooms. So listen to them; they know you're not going to put in a roller coaster, but if you're improving your park, they'll see you are listening to them."