Editor's Desk - September 2006
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Happy State

Introducing our stately report

Sometimes it's hard to grasp just how BIG the recreation industry is. Or how fast it's growing. Or in what directions it's headed. So, innocently enough, we set out to tackle the simple question: What is the state of the recreation industry?

Of course, the answer was not so simple.

Or should we say, answers, because we collected and poured over a significant amount of research, findings, statistics and viewpoints—all kinds of info as vast and wide as the industry itself. But having many answers from a variety of sources is a good thing. It gives you a lot to ponder.

From association guidance to study results to expert opinions, we've organized together what we think is an enlightening snapshot of the industry. We hope it helps you plan ahead. And we hope it spurs a lot of great discussions.


Jenny E. Beeh

Feel free to drop us a line. Any feedback is great; establishing an industry forum for the open exchange of ideas is even better. So don't be shy with your thoughts, opinions and questions. Any topic is fair game, and no query is too big or too little.

The Birthday Biz

I just read your article on "Adults on Ice" by Stacy St. Clair in Recreation Management [July/August 2006]. After reading the other articles in the magazine, I really thought it would be wonderful to share what we have experienced in the "Birthday Hosting" field.

It has become our niche in the last four years, with simple techniques: focus on the birthday child, do everything fun, take all frustrations out, deliver the WOW thus creating a remarkable product that people will sell for you. Here are some findings from us:

1. Over the past five years, public session flow and interest is down. Our walk-in business is a very small portion of our business.

2. The steps we have taken have been:
We changed our focus of just opening our doors and making a good sheet of ice for people to skate on, instead we refocused on Programmed Public Sessions so that we can give the best product to our customers when they come and skate knowing what they are going to get before they come in—that way we don't mix up experienced figure skaters with first-time adults and birthday children with teens. Every public session is programmed to a specific group, and the main focus is Fun and Learn:

  • Skate School Public Sessions
  • Adult Night Session
  • Teen Meltdown Session
  • Summer Camp Sessions
  • Family Party Sessions

3. Our strategy to increase public sessions has been to create a remarkable product (an all-inclusive Birthday Party Package) that focuses on personalizing an experience to a child as the center of attention, making it fun and unforgettable. Through this we are able to "force people to come and skate" for their very first time through a very solid birthday party program that takes one family to decide to celebrate a birthday here and invites at least 10 more families to our facility.

4. Incentives: With themed programmed public sessions you now can cater to certain groups consistently. For example, in our birthday program, we run more than eight different games on the ice like the Chicken Dance, the Giant Parachute, Cha-Cha Slide, and in our Teen night, we have a DJ, disco lights and Snow Ball Fights. In general, we run activities to hook people in to coming back until they join in another program like skate school or hockey.

5. Best marketing method: WORD OF MOUTH and partnerships. We have concentrated on improving our product so that it can be a remarkable and entertaining so that our existing customers can help us sell. It works.

Also we concentrate a lot in branding; we brand everything we do with our mascot the Ice Qub, from our in-house hockey teams (the "Ice Qub's") to our fliers, Web site, party goodie bags, T-shirts, banners, scout programs, fund-raisers program, learn-to-skate program, consistent mascot appearances—you name it, we do it. Everything and everyone is Quberized in our facility, and the Ice Qub brand is FUN.

6. How important is public skating? Without this program we have no feeder, and consequently all our programs would be down. So this is still the most important program in our business and for our bottom line.

Gaston Larios
San Diego Ice Arena