Feature Article - June 2020
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2020 Report on the State of the Managed Recreation Industry

A Look at What's Happening in Recreation, Sports & Fitness Facilities

By Emily Tipping


For the past 14 years, we've been keeping track of the trends in recreation, sports and fitness facilities via our State of the Industry Report. We've logged the various ways facilities were affected by—and recovered from—the Great Recession. The results from the 2020 Industry Report Survey, taken in early 2020, largely show continuing growth and strength in the entire industry.

In these pages, we provide a detailed look at the responses collected via our annual 50-question survey. We'll give you a look into how things stood as of January 2020, with detailed responses on such topics as management, operations, construction, programming and more for facilities of all kinds, with detailed information for aquatic facilities, parks and recreation, colleges, schools, Ys and health clubs.

But of course, things can change quickly, and the world of June 2020 is not at all the same as the world of January 2020. Recognizing this, we took a survey of readers in early May 2020, to learn more about the impact of COVID-19-related directives on their revenues and their expected timeline for reopening, as well as what actions they had taken, both to mitigate the impact (such as furloughs and closing facilities) as well as to reach the community with needed resources (such as by providing child care for health care staff, or getting involved in programs to address food insecurity). You'll find that information in the pages to come, but for quick reference, information on the impact on revenues is on page 16, data regarding a timeline for reopening appears on page 31, and you'll find more data about actions facilities have taken in light of the pandemic beginning on page 32.

About the Respondents

Before we get to any updated details, though, let's begin with a general summary of the results of the initial survey. Here, we'll report the results from the initial survey population of 1,307 respondents, adding clarifying information where relevant. After this section, we'll examine more detailed information based on the facility type of the respondents. This begins with a deeper look at responses from respondents whose facilities include aquatic elements. After that, we dive into the responses from the largest facility-type cohorts in the survey population. This includes parks and recreation organizations, colleges and universities, schools and school districts, health clubs, and Ys, JCCs and Boys & Girls Clubs.

It's a lot of data, but if you need more, head over to the RecManagement.com website, and you'll find further discussion of responses from camp facilities and community centers. And, as always, we bring you a weekly dose of research in the Rec Report newsletter, highlighting a different data point every week. (Is there something you'd like to know? Shoot us a message at editor@recmanagement.com, and we'll see if we can find the answer in the data.)

Finally, don't forget to stay tuned next month, when we'll report in our annual Salary Survey on the career and salary trends of these respondents.

The Respondents: A Profile

First off, let's take a look at who the respondents to the Industry Report Survey are, from their roles in their organizations to where they're located and more.

As always, survey respondents serve various functions and in a variety of roles within their organizations, with a majority working in higher-level positions. More than one-third (35.2%) said their job title was "director." More than one-fifth (20.3%) are in administration and management positions, such as administrator, manager or superintendent. Another 16.1% work in operations and facility management, with titles including operations manager, facility manager, building manager or supervisor. Some 11.8% of respondents are in program and activity administration roles, such as activity or program director, manager, coordinator, specialist, coach and instructor. Some 8.2% of respondents said they are either the chairman, CEO, president, vice president or owner of their organization. Another 1.2% are faculty or teachers, while 0.5% are in services such as planners, designers, architects and consultants. Finally, 6.8% of respondents said they hold "other" titles in their organization.

Considering so many respondents hold high-level positions in the recreation, sports and fitness industry, it is not at all surprising that they have a lot of experience under their belts, both in their current positions, as well as in the industry. On average, respondents have been in their current jobs for 11.7 years (up from an average of 10.8 in 2019), and have an average of 22.3 years of experience in the recreation, sports and fitness industry (up from 21.2).