The focus off this blog series will be to showcase different areas of the aquatic industry such as; parks and recs, fitness/health clubs, water parks (large and small), hospitality/hotels, medical wellness, and more…ranging from “how pools are becoming more like a business than a recreational water activity” to “trends in technology” and everything in between. As the “business of the aquatic industry’ changes there is an equal need to adjust how we manage and operate this industry and start treating it like a real business.
I remember when I could go to my local neighborhood pool with my friends and family and “just swim”. There was a chain-linked fence, a folding table with a person checking people in, and a lifeguard or two. In certain neighborhoods there was a slide and diving board, maybe even a small metal kiddie pool. Well, those days are long gone. Each community, park district and even recreation center is being held to a higher standard. There are now indoor playlands, spray fountains, and bouncing inflatables popping up in hundreds of communities across the country.
The question I have is: What does this mean for the aquatic industry overall? How does the average, local, regular community center pool keep up? It was just 20 years ago when all I thought about was a few swim lessons and some birthday parties to make money in a pool. But today there are dozens and dozens of swim lesson companies, services, and products trying impacting how pools are lead, built, and operated. The ones that build their own pools have national marketing dollars promoting their business and programs, while the recreation center, YMCA, and JCC’s are left wondering how to literally stay afloat.
While I don’t have all the answers I do have direct thoughts, proven results, and unique strategies that could help keep the traditional pools connected to the future. The overarching concept is to think differently about your pool! We need to think of our pools a like a true business. Like we think about our fitness centers and our boutique services (like massage or Pilates companies). We have to remember that a pool is literally a blank canvas with endless possibilities of ways to tell your story about your aquatic facility.
In the coming weeks I’ll be sharing unique, real-life, and entertaining stories that are designed to showcase how aquatic facilities are changing and how to stay ahead of the wave of change (yep, one more water pun!))
Wesley King, FMFA