Exclusive conversation with
World Waterpark Association Chair Damien Latham
interview by Martin Palicki
Damien Latham is the Board of Directors’ Chair for the World Waterpark Association (WWA). He recently left a position at Emaar Entertainment to start his own consulting business. InPark spoke with Latham about his role at WWA and the organization’s upcoming conference in Orlando (October 7-10, 2019 at Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort within the Walt Disney World Resort).
Tell us about your recent professional transition and your new role.
Having left Emaar as CEO of Entertainment to pursue the opportunity to work on some new world-class projects, I have now set up my own consultancy and currently have business in the UK, Middle East and China. However, I do plan to return to an operations-based role in the not too distant future.
Where do you think the waterpark market is heading in the EMEA region?
There are some amazing parks that have opened over the last five years and some significant reinvestment into well-established parks. I think the combination indoor/outdoor park with a signature hospitality model is a well-documented route for this region. Still, for obvious reasons the boundaries of what the customer expects need to be constantly challenged by bold investor-operators and designers and continual innovation.
How did you first get involved with WWA, and what led to becoming WWA Board Chair?
Roger Currie from Neuman Aqua introduced me to the 2005 WWA Las Vegas show and I instantly engaged. I think the educational sessions were the first I had ever seen specific to our industry. I saw this as a huge benefit which was closely linked to the largest waterpark show I had ever seen! From there I volunteered as a speaker and committee member and was elected to the Board of Directors in 2012 – a proud moment for me.
What are you most looking forward to at this year’s WWA conference in Orlando?
This year we are at the Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando and we have a packed agenda of educational and social events with a full show floor of the world’s foremost waterpark suppliers. Meeting with key suppliers is always a thing I particularly enjoy, and I relish discussing new projects and finding solutions to existing ones with colleagues. The show is really a one-stop shop to accelerate your parks.
What are some key benefits WWA provides to international members and vendors?
Above all it gives you a massively diverse platform of learning and development, keeping your finger on the pulse of safety, design trends and customer experience enhancements.
Are you optimistic about the industry today? How can we identify the great new projects?
The size and quality of new projects is encouraging for our industry and shows great confidence in its growth on all fronts. There are some fantastic projects across the globe – way too many to call out here – but we do recognize them through our annual awards: the WWA Leading Edge awards. They are given to individuals or parks for creativity in the development of new themes, facilities, programs, services or operational concepts in the water attractions industry; and/or to suppliers who have developed new concepts, products or services to the benefit of park members, their customers and the water attractions industry. We announce them each year at the conference.
What’s the best way for people to get involved with WWA?
Planning a trip to the Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando on October 7th – 10th for our show is the biggest move you could take to get involved. As a first step, consider becoming a member and engaging with our online platform. I look forward to welcoming you, however you choose to get involved. Visit wwashow.org for more details. • • •