The Evolution of the Business in the Aquatic Industry

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By: Wes King

I remember when I could go to my local neighborhood pool and just swim and play with my friends. There was a chain-linked fence, a folding table with a person checking people in, and a lifeguard or 2. 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 play lands, 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 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 trying take over, or even building their own local pools. The ones that build their own pools have national marketing dollars promoting their business and programs, while the recreation center, YMCA, and JCCs are left with wondering how to literally “stay afloat”.

Well, while I don’t have all the answers I do have over some direct thought, proven results, and unique strategies that could help keep the tradition of community and family while creating new revenue streams (yes, another water pun) for many aquatic facilities.  The overarching concept to thinking differently about your pool is just that! We need think of our pools 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!))

THE focus off this blog series will be to showcase different areas of the aquatic industry such as; parks and recs, corporate fitness, water parks (large and small), hospitality/hotels, and more…and how pools are becoming more like a business than a recreational water activity.  As the “business of pools’ of changes there is an equal need to change how we manage and operate this industry and start treating it like a real business. 

About the Author

Wesley King has over 22 years of national aquatic management and leadership experience. He has created multiple best-practice life safety and aquatic programming processes throughout the country for some of the biggest aquatic and recreation companies over the past few decades. Wesley has earned Fellowship and is a Lead Examiner for the Medical Fitness Association, along with several national and regional public speaking engagements. He has been featured in Aquatics International for award winning program development and featured in Recreation Management magazine.

Wes is currently the General Manager of a medically integrated fitness center in Oklahoma City and is a proud husband and father of 2 wonderful children and is excited to be able share his stories and experiences in the aquatic industry!

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