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21 Oct 2019

Waterpark industry heads to Disney World as World Waterpark Association hosts annual show in Orlando
BY Andy Knaggs

All smiles: winners of the WWA Show 2019 Wave Review Awards

All smiles: winners of the WWA Show 2019 Wave Review Awards
photo: Joseph Leute Photography / WWA

Almost 2,000 delegates from 23 countries had the chance to take part in a comprehensive educational programme at the 2019 World Waterpark Association (WWA) Show, held this year at Walt Disney World Resort, Orlando, Florida, with awards, keynote speeches and a trade show also built into the event.

Held from 7 to 10 October, the show was the 39th annual symposium and trade show held by the WWA, drawing owners, operators, developers, suppliers and designers associated with the waterpark sector. This year there were more than 300 first-time attendees.

Keynote addresses were delivered by workforce researcher and author Eric Chester, and customer experience consultant Jessica Bound. Chester told delegates that they need to "sharpen" their recruiting skills, to the same degree as they do for marketing.

"You must be relentless in improving your workplace culture so you can organically attract and retain the best and brightest job candidates," he said.

Bound spoke of the importance of making a waterpark brand stand out in meaningful ways, even through mundane transactions, observing: "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."

In the educational programme, more than 100 speakers dealt with issues such as guest safety, customer service excellence, top-line employee training, developing maintenance team members, increasing brand ROI, putting a stop to fraud and theft, and creating a safety-first culture.

The WWA event's trade show featured more than 225 companies exhibiting in a 100,000sq ft space, while a large number of awards and four new WWA Hall of Fame inductees were celebrated during the opening general session on 8 October.

The four new Hall of Famers – chosen as "visionary pioneers and innovators" – were Glenn Davidson of Miral; Mark Hatchel of Kimley-Horn; Andrew Mowatt of WhiteWater; and Vera Solis of Typhoon Texas Waterparks.

Rick Root, WWA president, said the return of the symposium to Walt Disney World Resort had made it a special show: "Working with a partner like Disney allowed us to deliver on all the things our attendees expect from us, but with even more 'magic'. We saw impressive attendance in our educational programmes, in the support from our sponsors and in the turnout to our fantastic networking events."

Meanwhile, Ashlie Sharp, a sales manager at Scott Enterprises/Splash Lagoon Indoor Waterpark Resort, who was one of the delegates at the event, said that actionable information had been gathered, saying: "This year we are working on implementing a new employee engagement campaign based on the things we learned at the show."



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