WWA Show a success
After a ten year hiatus, the WWA Show returned to one of its most popular host venues, Walt Disney World Resort. The 39th Annual Symposium & Trade Show, held October 7-10, 2019, was one of the best ever with the more than 1,800 owners, operators, developers, suppliers and designers who traveled from 23 countries and six continents to be part of this once a- year experience. In addition, this year’s show welcomed more than 300 first-time attendees, many of whom have new waterpark development projects in the works around the globe.
“Working with a partner like Disney allowed us to deliver on all the things our attendees expect from us, but with even more ‘magic,’” said Rick Root, WWA president. “We saw impressive attendance in our educational programs, in the support from our sponsors and in the turnout to our fantastic networking events.”
“I have been attending WWA conferences since 2005 and I truly believe this year’s WWA Show was the best by far,” said Beth Scheimann, Aquatics Manager, Greenville County Parks, Recreation, & Tourism. “It was truly amazing and inspiring to see so many first-timers attend and the breakout sessions were top notch, informative and presented realistic scenarios that we can all relate to.”
“The waterpark industry and community has grown up through the last four decades and the WWA has been the most important meeting place over these incredible 39 years. There is no better place to learn about waterparks and the industry,” said Rick Hunter, ProSlide Technology.
“What a great show! Thanks to the WWA and Disney for another incredible conference at a fantastic venue. We’re grateful for 39 years of meeting and building relationships with passionate waterpark professionals,” said Nick Neuman, CEO, Water Technology, Inc.
Attendees travelled to Orlando, Florida, from parks large and small, public and private, indoor and outdoor, from all over the world. Active leisure markets were represented from 23 countries, including: Australia, Austria, the Bahamas, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, China, Denmark, Germany, Ireland, Jamaica, Lebanon, Mexico, the Netherlands, Nigeria, the Philippines, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom and the United States of America.
“The WWA Show has always been the intersection for all things waterpark-related,” said Aleatha Ezra, Director of Park Member Development, World Waterpark Association. “We were excited to see so many waterpark professionals from all over the world come together to learn and share challenges and successes in order to make the industry safer and more impactful in the lives of the guest which we serve.”
“The WWA show is the very trade show that every waterpark industry person must attend in order to stay attuned with the latest trends, news and products,” said David Zeng, general manager, Chengdu Happy Together Tourism & Cultural Development Co., Ltd. and Vice Chair of the China Waterpark Association. “Here, we’re a family and together we can create new ideas for this job that we love.”
“The WWA Show helped me build connections. As operators, we are all after the same goal: to provide great experiences to drive our business,” said Dana Staniunas, director of recreation, Massanutten Resort.
“Being able to pick up the phone or send an email to a fellow operator to discuss solutions to challenges is invaluable.”
WWA’s Education Programme Delivers Key Takeaways & More
The WWA Show is well known for its high-quality educational events and this year’s programme generated plenty of excitement as attendees came ready to listen to more than 100 thought-provoking speakers share their best ideas on the things that matter most, including: guest safety, customer service excellence, top-line employee training and much more.
“I look forward to attending the WWA Show each year because of the educational and networking opportunities that are provided,” said Ashlie Sharp, sales manager, Scott Enterprises/Splash Lagoon Indoor Waterpark Resort. “I am grateful to share experiences with other leaders in the industry to bring new ideas back to my team. This year we are working on implementing a new employee engagement campaign based on the things we learned at the show.”
Highlights from the educational programme included: “When Bad Things Happen To Good Operators,” “Shattering Patterns: The Kartrite Resort & Indoor Waterpark,” “The Ingredients That All Great Leaders Have,” “Building Meaningful Relationships At Work,” “Success Through Integrated Marketing,” “Managing Your Online Reputation” and “Creative In-Service Ideas For Maximum Staff Engagement.” Other timely topics covered at this year’s show include: developing maintenance team members, increasing brand ROI, putting a stop to fraud and theft and creating a safety-first culture.
“Attending the WWA Show’s educational sessions and workshops allows me to stay up-to-date in my business and to know the latest trends in the industry giving me a competitive advantage,” said Gerard Gallo Casas, founding partner and director, Aquatico Inbursa Waterpark & president, AMPABA, the Mexican Waterpark Association. “Bringing key personnel so they can learn and share experiences with others and participate in workshops and conferences is an investment in our staff and in the company.”
This year’s Best Speaker award went to:
• Shawn Welch, Typhoon Texas Waterpark
Expert Keynotes Got Attendees Thinking In New Directions
In addition to the wide variety of breakout sessions and workshops, this year’s WWA show offered two inspiring keynote addresses, both of which offered fresh new approaches to hiring and customer service.
First up was workforce researcher, author and keynote speaker on how to find, develop and keep great employees, Eric Chester. Chester told attendees that the current labor shortage is not going to end anytime soon. “Waterpark owners and operators must work very hard to sharpen their recruiting skills to the same degree they place on their marketing efforts,” said Chester, CSP, CPAE. “As an employer, you must be relentless in improving your workplace culture so you can organically attract and retain the best and brightest job candidates.”
Chester gave numerous best practice examples of companies and organisations that are able to find and keep great employees who are dedicated to great customer service, and how this “peoplefirst” focus has made each of them much more profitable than those organisations that focus on putting profits before people.
Next up, was Customer Experience Consultant Jessica Bound, who shared with attendees, “you are in the customer perception business; their perception is your reality. Your entire team needs to understand the day in the life of a customer in order to serve with true empathy and compassion.” Bound spoke about how to make a waterpark brand stand out in meaningful ways by turning a mundane transaction into a unique memorable moment for the guest. “Many say customer service is common sense, and for the most part they are right. Yet delightful, memorable customer service is so UNCOMMON. You must put standards in place to hold everyone accountable for every experience, every time,” said Bound.
“I found both Keynote speakers to be motivational and inspiring as they challenged us on how we look at retaining not only great staff but customers as well. I came back to Toronto eager to start implementing some of the new ideas I learned this year and I can’t wait to see how they go in 2020,” Susan Kruizinga, director of sales and marketing, Wet’n’Wild Toronto.
WWA Exhibit Hall Is THE Waterpark Industry’s Marketplace
The 2019 WWA Trade Show featured 100,000-square-feet of combined exhibit space with more than 225 companies showcasing new products and services in more than 380 booths. The exhibit hall floor is the marketplace where the greatest number of waterpark, aquatic and waterpark resort professionals intersect with the water leisure industry’s newest and most innovative products and services.
“The WWA’s trade show floor was fantastic,” said Mark L. Dukes, general manager, Water Parks, Mini Golf & Mickey’s Retreat at the Walt Disney World Resort. “We met some new potential partners that we would have never found had they not attended this year’s show. We are excited about their products and we look forward to building new relationships.”
“We had an awesome show in Orlando! We’re thrilled with the quality of traffic and leads we received. Our booth was packed with pool builders, design firms and owners who were engaged and inquisitive about our products,” said Kyle Rieger, CPO/vice president of sales – North America, NINJACROSS SYSTEMS.
“The WWA Show is a great opportunity to spend quality time with existing customers and to meet new clients,” said Pat Finnegan, VP of business development NE USA, WhiteWater. “The show was very strong for us this year with our staff busy the entire time.”
“I think we saw more qualified buyers this year than ever before and we saw lots of new faces. Thank you, WWA, for putting on another wonderful event for the entire industry,” said Bob Landis, BoMar Soft Playgrounds Int’l.
“We had a fantastic show this year. We hosted tons of meetings with new and returning clients and our booth had solid traffic the entire time,” said Alex Weidman, president, SplashTacular.
“Anyone in the industry that is not attending this show is missing out on great educational opportunities and the potential to find a trade partner that can make you safer, more efficient and possibly increase attendance and profits,” said Dukes.
The following companies were awarded for their creative and impactful exhibits at the show:
• Best One-Booth Category: Big Dipper Dough, Traverse City, Michigan, U.S.A.
• Best Two-Booth Category: Rain Drop Products, Ashland, Ohio, U.S.A.
• Best Four-Booth Category: SplashTacular, Paola, Kansas, U.S.A.
• Best Eight-Booth Category: ProSlide Technology, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
• Judges’ Choice Category: Water Safety Products, Palm Bay, Florida, U.S.A.
• Best of Show: Neptune-Benson/Evoqua, Coventry, Rhode Island, U.S.A.
WWA Board Presents Industry Awards & the 2019 Hall of Fame Inductees
An annual highlight of the WWA Show is the recognition of industry leaders, innovators and pioneers by WWA’s Board of Directors, with the ceremony being held during the Opening General Session on October 8, 2019. Each year the Board recognises member contributions in a variety of areas significant to the industry’s success such as: dedication to guest and employee safety; excellence in leadership; innovation and creativity in designing new themes and attractions.
“There’s no better feeling than celebrating the people and companies who are making a meaningful difference in our great industry,” said Damien Latham, chair of the WWA’s Board of Directors. “Each year we strive to shine a light on the accomplishments of our best and brightest leaders and product innovators because recognition matters.”
The WWA inducted four individuals into the WWA Hall of Fame, which honours the water leisure industry’s most important and visionary pioneers and innovators. This year’s honorees were:
. Glenn Davidson, Miral
. Mark Hatchel, Kimley-Horn
. Andrew Mowatt, WhiteWater
. Vera Solis, Typhoon Texas Waterparks
(Induction videos for each honoree are available for linking to at: http://www.youtube.com/user/WorldWaterparkAssn.
Board of Directors’ Awards:
Board of Directors’ Awards:
The WWA Board of Directors recognised the exceptional accomplishments of 29 recipients in 2019 including:
. Al Turner Memorial Commitment to Excellence Award: John Gannon, Zoombezi Bay at the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium, Powell, Ohio, U.S.A.; Stephanie Hee-Johnston, NRH2O Family Water Park, North Richland Hills, Texas, U.S.A.; Mark Moore, Gulf Islands Waterpark, Gulfport, Mississippi, U.S.A.
. Executive Board Award: Sandra Greiner, Sun Splash Family Waterpark/City of Cape Coral, Cape Coral, Florida, U.S.A.; Tropical Islands Resort, Krausnick, Germany
. Kelly Ogle Memorial Safety Award: Clay Barnes, Specialty Insurance Group, a division of Everest Insurance®, Carmel, Indiana, U.S.A.; Dana Gage, The LV Project, North Richland Hills, Texas, U.S.A.
. Leading Edge Award: Coventry City Council, Coventry, West Midlands, United Kingdom, and FaulknerBrowns Architects, Newcastle Upon Tyne, United Kingdom, Hadron Consulting Ltd, London, United Kingdom, Murphys Waves Ltd, Glasgow, Scotland-UK, Neuman Aqua Ltd., Ockley, Surrey, United Kingdom, Polin Waterparks, Kocaeli, Turkey, Vortex Aquatic Structures International Inc., Pointe-Claire, Quebec, Canada and Water Technology, Inc., Beaver Dam, Wisconsin, U.S.A. for their work on the Wave Coventry; EPR Properties, Kansas City, Missouri, U.S.A., and Aquatic Development Group, Cohoes, New York, U.S.A., Architectural Design Consultants, Inc., Lake Delton, Wisconsin, U.S.A. and ProSlide Technology Inc, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada for their work on the Kartrite Resort & Indoor Waterpark; Island H2O Live!, Orlando, Florida, U.S.A., and Aquatic Development Group, Cohoes, New York, U.S.A., Innovative Attraction Management, LLC., Windermere, Florida, U.S.A., USA, Inc., Downers Grove, Illinois, U.S.A. and WhiteWater, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada for their work on Island H2O Live!; Royal Caribbean International, Miami, Florida, U.S.A., and Martin Aquatic Design & Engineering, Orlando, Florida, U.S.A. and WhiteWater, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada for their work on Thrill Waterpark; Splashway Family Waterpark, Sheridan, Texas, U.S.A., and ProSlide Technology Inc, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada for their work on “Dueling Splash Blasters.”
Also celebrated during the Opening General Session was this year’s recipient of the Chris Stuart
Emerging Leaders Scholarship programme
The WWA launched the Chris Stuart Emerging Leaders Scholarship program seven years ago to give individuals in the beginning of their water leisure careers the opportunity to attend the WWA show. This year’s recipient was Brittany Davis with Rapids Water Park, West Palm Beach, Florida, U.S.A.
“Attending the WWA Show last week was a whirlwind. I walked in knowing very few people but left feeling like my waterpark family grew by 3,000,” said Davis. “It was an amazing opportunity to learn useful skills, ideas and knowledge during the sessions, and the connections I made and the ideas I learned from other attendees were even more important.”
“Keeping our leadership pool strong and growing is a key focus for the WWA,” said Latham. “We are fortunate that so many member parks took the time to recommend a candidate to help us find so many worthy recipients for this scholarship program.”
The other scholarship finalist was: Kade Palmer, Triple Play Family Fun Park, Hayden, Idaho, U.S.A.
Wave Review Awards
Recipients of WWA’s popular Wave Review marketing competition were recognised during the Keynote Session on October 9, 2019. Winners’ work represented successful marketing campaigns from small public sector facilities to large corporately owned waterparks.
Multi-category winners were: Parrot Island Waterpark, Fort Smith, Arkansas, U.S.A.; Island H2O Live!, Kissimmee, Florida, U.S.A., Soaring Eagle Waterpark & Hotel, Mt. Pleasant, Michigan, U.S.A.; among others.
WWA Attendees Felt The Power Of Networking
Along with its top-notch educational programme and booming exhibit hall, the WWA Show is also well known for hosting some terrific networking events that are welcoming to all who attend.
“The WWA’s networking events allow me to meet face to face with many existing customers who I have dealt with for years by phone and email,” said Sam Baker, SR SCALES by SR Instruments. “I enjoy this show so much!”
Highlights of this year’s networking events included:
• WWA’s Annual Golf Tournament. On October 7th, close to 60 golfers came together at Disney’s Palm Golf Course for a day on the greens. This 18-hole championship course features shimmering lakes, tropical sands, palm trees and sloping greens. Disney’s Palm Golf Course is rated 4 stars by Golf Digest and includes 9 holes with water hazards and 59 bunkers—providing plenty of challenges for novices and seasoned pros alike. Top prize went to winning team: Bryan Banner, Atlantis Paradise Island; Leander de Wit, Yas Waterworld; Mike Friscia, Innovative Attraction Management, LLC.; and Wess Long, Starguard ELITE
• WWA’s Annual Reunion Party. Host facility, Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon Water Park, welcomed more than 700 owners, operators, suppliers and developers who came together to harness the power of networking. Attendees explored the beauty of one of the world’s most visited waterparks with behind the scenes tours led by seasoned Walt Disney World professionals, while also enjoying some great food.
• Island H2O Live Party. Orlando’s newest waterpark, Island H2O Live!, played host to more than 500 show attendees who were eager to see for themselves how social technology was integrated into this new facility from the front gate to each ride experience. Attendees got to ask questions and learn more firsthand while participating in park tours, all while enjoying some delicious food.
• Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon Water Park Picnic. This year’s show wrapped up with attendees getting some well-deserved play-in-the-park time at Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon Water Park. Whether it was experiencing “Humunga Kowabunga” or “Crush ‘n’ Gusher,” attendees and their families had a wonderful time exploring some of the most exciting waterpark attractions in the world at Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon Water Park.
WWA to celebrate 40 years in Vegas!
The World Waterpark Association’s 40th anniversary show will take attendees back to the “entertainment capital of the world,” Las Vegas, Nevada, a city known for its non-stop entertainment and high-octane nightlife. Next year’s show will take place October 6-9, 2020, with the trade show occurring on October 7th & 8th.
“What could be better than celebrating four decades of making this great industry bigger and better than to host our 40th anniversary show in Las Vegas?” said Root. “Vegas brings a level of energy and excitement to our show experience which will make the 2020 show a can’t-miss event.”
The show will be headquartered at Caesars Forum Conference Center and Harrah’s Las Vegas, both of which are centrally located in the heart of the Las Vegas Strip. Attendees will be steps away from The LINQ Promenade, an open-air retail, dining and entertainment district, anchored by the world’s tallest observation wheel, known as the High Roller.
Visit WWAShow.org for more details about the 2020 show.