ABOVE: The trade show floor at WWA 2018 featured 225 vendors from around the world.
More than 1,600 attendees from five continents gathered in Las Vegas last October for the 38th Annual Symposium & Trade Show of the World Waterpark Association (WWA). Show organizers touted that of the 1,600, some 350 were first-time attendees, of whom many are connected to waterpark projects in planning or development around the globe.
“WWA was an extremely busy and productive show for us, with lots of leads to follow up on,” said Sam Baker, Director-Global Development for SR Scales by SR Instruments. Baker has been participating in the show for many years, exhibiting a line of high-quality scales specifically designed to help waterslide operators load rafts within safe weight limits (without embarrassing guests). Baker reported being impressed with the number of attendees from different segments of the waterpark market, along with the general quality of leads, at the 2018 show.
Attendees came not only from waterparks, but from an expanding range of venues adding water attractions to their offerings. Municipal entities, for instance, are increasingly turning to splash pads, water play structures and wave pools to diversify their recreation offerings. Internationally, waterparks continue to be a desirable asset for developers, and indoor waterparks find new niches in under-served markets.
The trade show spanned two days and attracted 225 vendors from a wide spectrum, from waterslide manufacturers and food vendors to park equipment providers. Of particular note was a host of ticketing and wristband vendors providing RFID solutions – hot on the heels of Volcano Bay’s TapuTapu queue reservation system launched last year. It’s a popular topic for waterparks, as guests start to demand solutions for lengthy queues similar to what they find in theme parks.
Education and networking opportunities round out the week
A key focus of this year’s WWA Show was to create intersection points between the many different constituents within this vibrant industry, and the educational sessions are a big part of that. “An important element of the WWA Show is our commitment to community,” said Aleatha Ezra, Director of Park Member Development, WWA. “We seek to start conversations between individual people. When people share what’s working and what’s not with others in the industry, they walk away smarter, stronger and better equipped to tackle new challenges in the coming year.”
The WWA Show’s educational program centered on key topics: guest safety, operational excellence, high quality customer service, and top-line employee training, among other areas. “In 2018, the number of people attending our educational sessions increased by close to 30 percent,” said Ezra. “In addition, attendance in our workshops and certification courses more than doubled.”
This year, WWA offered two keynote addresses. Mark Scharenbroich, an author and member of the National Speaker Association’s Hall of Fame, spoke on how to be effective in making meaningful connections in one’s professional and personal life. Customer Experience expert David Avrin, CSP, focused on how customers today expect immediate answers, 24/7 access to information, expedited delivery and buying with one-click. “A great customer experience in today’s world is more than merely providing friendly customer service; we also must understand how our customers want to do business with us and give them the experience they want – at every point of contact,” said Avrin.
In addition to complimentary lunch hours as well as a hosted happy hour on the trade show floor, attendees traveled to Wet’n’Wild Las Vegas for the WWA Annual Reunion Party. Behind the scenes tours were available for guests, along with a selection of tasty nibbles and beverages.
“The Annual Reunion Party has been a tradition of the WWA Show for decades,” said Ezra. “Wet’n’Wild Las Vegas provided the perfect environment to bring our attendees together for food, fun, laughs and plenty of thoughtful conversations.”
The next WWA show heads to the Walt Disney World® Resort (Orlando), taking place October 7-10, 2019 with the trade show on Oct 8-9. The newly renovated Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort is a stone’s throw from all four Walt Disney World® Theme Parks, championship golf and Disney Springs®. Plus, WWA Show attendees will enjoy special benefits such as extra time in the parks and convenient transportation for additional exploration. Visit WWAShow.org for more details. • • •