By Rodney J. Auth
I’m stuffing my son and oldest daughter into the car for an impromptu weekend trip to Omaha, Nebraska and the College World Series. We’ve got tickets to Game 3 (thanks to the wonder of StubHub) featuring the mighty Kent State University Golden Flashes — a local college and educator of choice for many of our staff members.
It’s only the second time a team from Ohio has made it to the tournament–and since a lot of the players are boys who recently graduated from my son’s high school–it seemed like the perfect time to knock an item off my bucket list.
My generous wife agreed. So, in a little while, I’ll officially be “on vacation!”
If you run a park, water park or aquatic facility in a location that attracts lots of tourists, you know the syndrome. In my case, the attitude translates into more enthusiasm than usual for outdoor exertion–running, swimming, biking, canoeing, and so on. It usually also comes complete with a more relaxed attitude and increased patience.
That’s the good side.
But, as Adam Blackmore illustrates in “Managing Aquatic Facilities,” there’s another side to the “on-vacation” mentality–a loosening of discipline and respect for the facilities and staff members they encounter while in this altered state. As Blackmore points out, folks who would normally take great care to pick up trash, monitor their children’s behavior and respect the authority of younger lifeguards, concession-workers, admissions staff, etc. at their home facility–the one they frequent–are apt to do the exact opposite when they’re visiting your facility. They justify the lapse by saying to themselves, “I’m on vacation. I’m going to enjoy myself.”
I’m sure there’s some sort of psychological explanation for this effect, but at the end of the day, if your facility sees a near 100-percent turnover of patrons from day to day, you’ll need to take this effect into account and train your staff accordingly. We offer some suggestions I think you’ll find useful.
Of course, since July is also the official “parks” month, we dig into other areas of operations–offering tidbits and tricks that, we hope, can help you manage one of the busiest months in your calendar.
As usual, we enjoyed creating this issue and hope you feel the same when you read it. If you do, or if you don’t, feel free to let us know.
Till next month …
Rodney J. Auth
P.S. In concert with the busiest month in the parks calendar, we’re launching the ParksNReviews.com mobile app for both iPhone/iPad and Android devices. Make sure your parks are included. Simply log in to your Insider account (see mailing label for username/password) and create a listing for each of your parks. When you hit save, you’ll have a one-page website for each of your parks AND automatically be included in the mobile app. Enjoy!