Make the most of your parks and recreation centers by focusing on the most in-demand offerings.

The family entertainment and amusement industry continues to grow and evolve, offering consumers more than ever before in the world of leisure. In an age where something as fantastical as space tourism could very well become reality, it’s no surprise that entertainment professionals are constantly trying to prove that the sky’s no longer a limit.

The parks and recreation industry is seeing a lot of movement towards expanding facilities and offerings to both delight residents and attract more tourism – and that’s a smart move. But with so many directions to take and decisions to make, where does a municipality even start?

Based on our experience in the business of fun, here are our top five questions to ask when taking the leap towards being a premier entertainment destination in your area.

No. 1 What is your facility’s purpose today?

Many parks and community centers began with a vision of being a neighborhood place for residents to spend time with their families. Today, many have a purpose of helping communities live healthier, happier lives. 

As you plan for your venue’s future, it makes sense to decide if why you began is still the same ‘why’ that drives you today. Once you have the crystal clear picture of what your facility wants to accomplish, your purpose will become the lens through which you view opportunities and challenges, and will impact decisions about what you offer, how you price, whom you serve and more. Take a fresh look and examine your facility’s purpose and determine just how each change you make will carry out that purpose.

No. 2 Who do you want to serve?

Over time we’ve seen a shift in public thinking. In the past, residents may not have approved tax increases for public recreation facilities and parks, but now more and more people are seeing the benefits that well maintained recreation facilities bring to their communities. Are you tuned in to their interests?  What do you want to be known for in your community?

Will you be an adventure destination? Consider attractions and programs that speak to the thrill seeker in all of us. Climbing structures and ropes course, zip lines, water attractions, adventure slides and warrior courses can be great new features in addition to boot camp classes, Spartan type races and other extreme fitness programs.

Will you be a soothing relaxation destination? Perhaps you should consider adding cabana rentals, yoga and tai chi classes and local farm-to-table dining options.

Will you be focused on family fun? If so, consider programs that bring families together often and attractions that cater to small children as well as adults such as miniature golf, a mixture of outdoor water attractions for all ages and other similar attractions.

No. 3 How will you reach out to guests?

Don’t fall into the “if you build it, they will come” trap. It’s easy to overlook this important piece of the puzzle because when you grow and expand, you’ll naturally generate a lot of early interest. However, customers today have short attention spans, so you need to capitalize on the initial excitement as much as possible.

You’ll need dedicated sales hours (and often people!) to sell your facility’s new offerings. This is a much more challenging role than fielding incoming inquiries. To get started, make a list of the people, age groups, group types and specific organizations that you want to patronize your facility, and then develop sales, marketing and social media strategies to go after them. To become a premier entertainment destination, you must cultivate a strong presence in your community as such. Being great at just one of those strategies won’t be enough to get you the return on investment that you’re after.  

No. 4 How will you keep your guests coming back?

Considerations need to be made in the way that you staff and train your team members as well. Volunteers and paid team members must understand your vision and goals in order to display them with your guests.

Be sure you’re speaking publicly and often about your facility’s vision, and how each member of the staff can help carry out that vision. Aim to cultivate a hospitality mindset. Your visitors will have expectations about how they should be greeted, processed and interacted with during their visit. Fulfill your mission by making the connections between your purpose and your guests’ expectations. Think about the best restaurants, stores, movie theaters and any other entertainment places you visit. What do you love about them? What do you wish was better? Set your facility apart by having operational practices that combine the best of what works, while minimizing practices that don’t.

No. 5 How will you manage it all?

As you gain more diversity, you need systems that manage all the “orchestrated chaos.” Be sure you select a facility management system that offers you the ability to sell tickets onsite and online, control attraction capacity access and safety waivers, sell and schedule group events and diverse spaces, schedule your team members, and review your park’s revenue, throughput, and capacity data that you need to maximize your facility’s potential while keeping costs and expenditures on target. 

These are just a few of the top questions to keep in mind when considering transitioning your facility to a diverse entertainment venue.

Have questions about your next steps? Contact us here in the comments or on Twitter.


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