Like any business, waterparks are dynamic and complex. The essential goal of a waterpark is to be a place for families to splash around in the water while making memories in a safe and thoughtful environment. Waterpark guests are ultimately looking for an experience. There are three facets to that experience: attractions, customer service, modernity. The water attractions themselves create the thrill and the actual product while customer service lends itself to how pampered and human the experience is for the guest. Modernity certainly involves keeping the attractions fresh and exciting, so the park doesn’t become forgettable. It also is about innovation in adopting (and creating) technology that improves the experience at the park and encourages the sharing of these memories to the guest’s network of family, friends, and co-workers. It is this digital transformation that may very well help differentiate a waterpark from the nearby competition.
Striking the right balance
Waterparks often focus their technology considerations on surveillance cameras, point of sale, admissions, and accounting. In many locations, the waterpark season is short enough that investments in other technologies may be financially difficult but also complicated to maintain with a revolving staff that needs to be trained each season. Further, technology can be scary for waterparks that do not have the internal skills to design, implement, and manage themselves. Outsourcing is an option; but, even when funding is not the issue, there is still a matter of understanding the technology well enough to manage the providers.
It is also worth noting that some waterparks have learned the hard way that technology implemented incorrectly becomes a bigger burden than not having it at all.
Having consulted and outsourced for multiple management companies and dozens of water, theme, and amusement parks over more than a decade, I’ve seen everything from virtually no technology to too much technology. There’s a sweet spot that is not predictable by some measurement of a park’s size, attendance, or geographic location. Each park, even within a single management company, requires a specialized consideration for what makes sense. Each time carpasean has helped a management company acquire a waterpark we evaluate the technology prior to the final close of the acquisition and then the eventual merger into their company’s network. There’s a unique relationship to be built with the local management, staff, and customer base to understand what does make sense. Certainly, some standardization around network security, accounting systems, point of sale systems is critical to a management company’s success. The individual features, add-ons, and extras are up for evaluation in each case.
The snowball effect of better guest experiences
Vantage’s unique solutions are such an example. A splash of passive martech (marketing technology) mixed with a pool of direct CX (customer experience) then layered in with safety technology, deep data collection, and thoughtful UX (user experience for managers and employees) can help create a customized and reward-based guided immersion across the property:
- Each guest wears an unobtrusive wristband that is linked to their one-day or season/annual pass admission. This wristband continually communicates with radio technology throughout the park that helps parents know where their kids are, where overcrowding or social distancing may be an issue, and tracks that guests have safely and fully cleared a catch pool before the attraction operators is alerted the next guest may slide.
- This same wristband is their key to an immersive experience that includes ride photos, photo/video booths, attractions access, attraction scheduling/queuing, and sharing those experiences to their social media accounts.
- When the guest is ready to eat or gets thirsty, they can redeem points collected during their visit(s) for free and discounted foods and access other benefits at the retail, food, and beverage outlets across the park.
- In the back office, the software has collected data about how each guest has chosen to build their experience at the property and what types of revenue items they purchase.
- Managers can then retarget these guests and create promotional offers to increase guest experiences while driving higher margins spends.
- Guest facing technology can make experiencing a thrilling family raft ride a memory they will want to repeat but also share with others that can drive new attendance.
Technology doesn’t have to be scary
This is the twenty-first century and technology is no longer avoidable. There are key technologies that must be employed and then there are value-add solutions that should be considered. For waterparks that are part of a management firm with technology staff and a CIO, evaluating and rolling out technologies is less daunting. For an independent waterpark or family entertainment center, these technologies may seem like a dream that is unattainable. However, technology is more than just hardware and software. Technology is a relationship with creators, implementors, integrators, and outsourcers. Some smaller waterparks may benefit from a technology provider that offers a vCIO (virtual chief information officer) add-on, but there are also some firms, like carpasean, dedicated to providing C-Suite information systems management to companies. We bring experienced executive management to businesses but without the burden of a full-time salary. Building a relationship with a firm like carpasean is having a loyal partner on the team that knows the business and can be a liaison and coordinator of all the technology providers to ensure the waterpark’s technology roadmap is well aligned to the business objectives and consistently implemented by the providers. Waterparks can have their pools and swim in them too.
About the Author:
Christopher leads a diverse team of technology and business professionals as founder and President of carpasean LLC. An entrepreneur with a B.S. in Computer Science, Christopher’s more than two decades of business and technology experience spans state government, public and private businesses across numerous industries, technology firms, and non-profit organizations. He combines critical thinking skills with expertise in business analysis, information systems, and technology strategy to effectively identify root causes and proper solutions. Christopher passionately guides customers on custom digital transformation journeys with a heavy emphasis on equity and inclusion.