Takeaways from the 2022 WWA Conference

David J. Sangree, MAI, CPA, ISHC and Adam Zarczynski, CHIA attended the World Waterpark Association annual conference in Las Vegas, Nevada in October. They enjoyed seeing many familiar faces and meeting new people at the conference. Here are some key highlights from the conference:

  • The conference had record attendance, with over 1,500 attendees. This indicated a strong rebound from the pandemic in conference attendance and showed a continued strong interest in the waterpark industry.
  • The WWA awards Leading Edge Awards to individuals or parks for the development of new themes, facilities, programs, services, or operational concepts in water attractions; and to suppliers who have developed new concepts or products that benefit the water attractions industry and their parks and customers. These Leading Edge Awards were awarded to various parks and companies:
    • Baha Mar Resorts, LTD, DTJ Design, Flowrider, Murphys Waves LTD, and ProSlide Technology Inc for their work on Baha Bay Waterpark in the Bahamas
    • Cullman Parks, Recreation and Sports Tourism and Aquatic Development Group, and ProSlide Technology Inc for the their work on WildWater waterpark in Alabama
    • Karisma Resorts, Grupo Lomas, Paramount Life Floor, RiverFlow Pumps By Current Systems, Water Technology, Inc, and Whitewater for their work on Aqua Nick in Mexico’s Riviera Maya
    • Ocean Park Corporation, ProSlide Technology, Van Stone Conveyor, Water Technology, Inc, and Whitewater for their work on Water World Ocean Park in Hong Kong
    • Vinwonders NHA Trang and Polin Waterparks for their work on Water World at Vinwonders NHA Trang in Vietnam
    • Wild Rivers Waterpark and Aquatic Development Group, CSM Waterworks, and Whitewater for their work on Wild Rivers Waterpark in California
  • Surfing and surf parks continued to garner significant attention at the conference. With the growing popularity of surf machines and surf parks, investors and developers continue to be interested in this expanding segment. Several properties talked about the rise of nighttime programming at surf parks to help accommodate the growing demand in the evenings from patrons who may enjoy a drink or dinner while watching activity on the surf machine
  • There is still wide-spread concern in the industry regarding the continued increase in wages and staffing issues that have hampered the hospitality and attractions industries over the past two years. These issues don’t seem to be easing as many properties are still dealing with concerns about wage rates and finding enough staff.
  • Waterparks are working to better leverage social media to increase their park’s presence on various sites. This strategy includes sharing videos and images on Instagram, YouTube, and TikTok to generate interest in the park by advertising what the experience is like. Some parks have achieved this by offering tickets to social media influencers who capture their experience at the park on their personal social media accounts. These videos are garnering thousands, and in some cases, millions of views, resulting in significant advertising exposure in a cost-efficient way.