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 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.