Turning Cool Spots Into Hot Cash

“Corporate sponsorships and in-park advertising can enhance your aquatic center’s bottom line while promoting local businesses and enhancing your department’s promotions and special events”, says Judith Leblein, CPRP Operations Analyst at Water Technology, Inc. in Beaver Dam, Wisconsin. “Public pools, family aquatic centers and water parks can begin a program of advertising that can be specifically tailored to meet each facility’s specific needs.”

Incorporating sponsors’ logos in fabric (or other material) can be valuable exposure as well as provide well-needed sun protection for patrons.

As Leblein says, “Be sure to have intimate knowledge of the facility and its design. Dream about the future for the facility and let your imagination run wild. The opportunities are there, just waiting for you to discover them.”

Shapes and Sizes

The type of facility your building/using and the type of experience you’re working to provide your patrons will ultimately determine the style and size of the shade structure you purchase.

As Scott Stefnac, project manager for Water Technology, Inc. says, “Resort style facilities typically use smaller, market-type umbrellas and custom cabana areas to meet the aesthetic image of the facility and, in some situations, use larger, custom structures. Commercial water parks typically have a mixture of shade systems, usually larger “umbrellas” or fabric structures of 20 to 30 foot sizes. This allows for groups or multiple individuals to share a space and provide a larger shade area. These types of facilities also tend to explore using larger, “tensile” type fabric or covered areas for group spaces such as dining pavilions or over pools. Municipal facilities tend to limit themselves to small “umbrella” fabric structures up to 20 feet because of cost and operations. These municipal facilities may also use pre-fabricated hard structures in group areas for picnicking and parties and small numbers are expanding their budgets to increase style and size as may fit their aesthetic and functional needs.”

Ultimately, shade structures come in all shapes, styles, sizes and materials. You can choose to use fabric structures (umbrellas, sails, etc.) or permanent structures (pavilions, etc.) or a combination of both. In the end, there are pros and cons to each type and, usually, logical situations where one is better then another (i.e.: it’s easier to cover a playground with a shade sail then a huge pavilion).

Tips from the Trenches

When it comes to matching the right outdoor shade structure to the right needs and in the right place – these tips from experts in the field might guide you in the right direction:

* Operate within your budget

* Know what you are planning with the space and have a clear purpose

* Consider the right materials for your application, fabric, metal or wood

* Determine occupancy numbers and size the structure accordingly

* Have your structure fit a theme or compliment other structural styles on the property (style, color, etc.)

* Find a service-oriented company with a good reputation to work with

The Mommy Market

A budding new market for shade is Mom’s. Or, as some call it, the “Mommy Market.”

Some departments and public agencies have begun creating linear uses for shade along the perimeters of buildings to create places where mom and baby can spend some quiet time. They’re installing signs reading “Stroller Parking” or “Time-Out Spot” near these shaded areas and watching them fill up with breastfeeding moms, napping tots and over stimulated kids who need to take a moment and chill out.

Of course, providing these nice, desirable shady spaces isn’t all peaches and cream. As Leblien says, “In this day of stranger danger, moms are not excited about letting others into their shade circle.”

So, be sure to have plenty of space – and maybe post some rules of the road for its use.

Supporting material for this article was supplied by Jay Jensen, Marketing Director, USA Shade & Fabric Structures, Judith Leiblein, Operations Analyst, Water Technology, Inc., Hilary Pikes, Aquatics Manager, the City of Lewisville, Texas and James Hughes, Director of Parks, Recreation and Special Events in Bedford, Texas.

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  1. Sporting Shade
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  3. Avoiding Overexposure
  4. Make a Splash with Minimal Cash
  5. Lazy, Hazy, Shady Days Of Summer

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