The Evolution of the Business in the Aquatics Industry: Hospitality

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By: Wes King

On a recent visit to a nice, but not too fancy franchised hotel in a major city in the US my wife and I got an overnight away from the kids and sure enough this hotel had a pool. This hotel was not overly fancy but not generic either. Not only did it have a pool, but the pool was jam packed with people. I mention this specifically because most hotel pools do not typically generate high volume of usage, however this was no ordinary pool. This pool had a mini slide, a kiddie water fall, and L-shape play areas and little spray features around the edges. There was no smell of chlorine, there was no oily film on top of the water, and we could see all of the safety drains. In my personal and professional experience those positive qualities are not common in a general hotel pool. My wife and I actually almost felt guilty for not bringing the kids, but over that quickly when we saw how crowded it was.

I had 2 major epiphanies watching all of the children playing. The first was that this is a trend, more and more hotels are attempting to enhance their standard pool to create an “experience” in their pools to draw the families/younger crowds. As new hotels are being built there is a strategic thought about how to draw local business and families for overnight events.  The second light bulb that went off in my head was – there was no increased attempt to keep the kids and parents safe. While there was extensive thought process in this new and fun hotel pool, there was not an equal thought to increased safety. The standard “no lifeguard on duty” sign was there. The standard “warning” and depth markers signs were there, but nothing else. No extra staff. No extra eyes. I even asked the staff at the hotel desk about usage of the pool and was told it was usually busy at night, especially on the weekends. This weekend happened to have multiple gymnastics teams in town for a tournament. You could only imagine what gymnastics routines were being practiced on the pool deck and in the water by 6-10-year boys and girls. I was very quickly reminded of how important it is to have a collaborative effort in the hospitality industry when it comes to water!

This hotel was creating a wonderful guest experience but equally setting themselves up at any given moment!

About the Author

Wesley King is the Vice President of Celts Sustainable Aquatics, Chicago’s largest full scale aquatic management company. Wesley has over 20 years of aquatic and recreational leadership experience. He has developed multiple award winning programs and presented over a dozen national seminars for organizations such as the Medical Fitness Association, Club Industry, several healthcare organizations. He has chaired the national Medical Fitness Association education committee, is a lead examiner, and has earned his Fellowship with MFA. Wesley also and has his own consulting business. He has become well known for his innovation in aquatic programming, risk management, and quality staff training. 

Wesley has provided support and leadership a wide variety of organizations such as YMCA, JCCs and American Red Cross. He was the winner of Aquatics International 2015 “Program of the Year” and recently authored “An Aquatic Operations Management Manual” which is being published by MFA Best Practice Partner, Healthy Learning. Wes was also featured in Recreation management magazine with the “Last Word” feature story. Wes has certified over 3,000 lifeguards, lead over 500 in-service safety trainings, and developed several “best in class” revenue generating programs /risk management review processes.

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