“It’s so much more than swimming!”
“It was the easiest event to plan and the most popular one we’ve ever hosted!”
These are just a few of the positive comments made by both planners and participants regarding their recently hosted events at waterparks all over the Midwest. Interested in garnering this kind of enthusiastic response from your own group? Here are a few tips to help you plan a successful event that will please all your attendees, even if some don’t know how to swim!
- Who will attend? Pay attention to ages, genders, water skill levels, employees, families, etc.
- Timing - How long will your event last? Is it a daytime or evening event?
- What are your goals – organized team sports, group interaction, leisure time or perhaps charity awareness?
- Any consideration for presentation of awards or need for group gatherings/announcements throughout the event? Think about staging, sound systems, timing, location and set up.
- Will food and beverage service be included or is it a bring-your-own picnic?
These are just a few of the initial questions to ask and get answered before you venture into the world of waterpark fun time for your group, whether it’s for a business sponsored event or family picnic/employee fun day. The more specific you can get with your target audience and purpose the easier it will be to plan a crowd pleasing and successful event.
So, let’s assume you’ve established your agenda by answering all of the above questions and you have also identified your waterpark venue. In proceeding to book this event, here are some basic questions that the park will need answered in order to quote you a rate for the best possible event on your desired date:
- What is the size/scope/age composition of your audience? Some parks are available for total buyouts based on guaranteed numbers and dates; some will only offer mix-ins with general public and/or contained areas for your group to gather.
- What is your desired time frame from start to finish? Parks have varied hours and cater to the general public during daily peak operating times so many times it’s easier to get some group privacy after hours or at close of day.
- What are your food and beverage considerations with regards to needs and budget? Many parks offer reasonable per person package pricing on full catering in lieu of bringing in any food from outside vendors; some will work with you on only providing a group picnic area in which you supply your own F&B.
- Will you need a group assembly location? Many parks that cater to group needs will have a covered stage available along with basic sound system for presentations, music, fun awards ceremonies (such as “Can you believe those wild guys in the tech department swept the belly flop contest?”) and such. If this is an important factor in your event, make sure to conduct a thorough site inspection of the facility.
Other basic considerations might include the need for a professional DJ or perhaps even a good emcee to get the party going and to keep it flowing. Depending on your group, you might want to sponsor fun activities or contests like who can go down the kamikaze slide of death the most times in an hour or who can take the longest time to float the entire lazy river, etc. Get creative with your group agenda and make sure to keep your venue sales contact in the loop on your entire planned agenda so they can assure the park is well staffed.
And here’s a great tip from Amy Parod, Director of Sales and Marketing for Arrowwood Resort & Conference Center in Alexandria, MN: “Planners should make sure to include leisure time for park enjoyment into their overall meeting agendas. Since we have a complete resort complex where family engagement is encouraged, it’s disappointing for everyone when the meeting planners come here and don’t allow for any fun time in their schedule!”
Finally, as all good planners should do, make sure to think about things like the venues’ emergency procedures, their lifeguard status and ratio, child lost and found as well as the potential need of getting attendees to sign liability waivers. But don’t let this stuff scare you away from the ultimate goal of sponsoring an awesome waterpark event! If you apply the same professional planning logic to this type of special event that you would to any of your business meetings you’re sure to have a new type of success on your hands.
Terry is both a veteran meeting planner and a freelance writer, focusing on issues related to the travel, meetings and leisure markets. A CMP since 1987 with a resume that covers both international planning and incentive work as well as positions on the supplier side, she advises industry newcomers that want to learn fast how to succeed in this business to “make sure and sweat the small stuff!”