Attendees Experience The Best Of The WWA Show In The Big Easy
Overland Park, KS, October 20, 2016 —WWA attendees couldn’t help but “let the good times roll,” as the WWA Show took attendees back to New Orleans – a city where cultures collide in a brilliant explosion of flavors, emotions and sounds. Waterpark professionals from 23 countries on 5 continents came together to learn, network and benchmark new products during the WWA Symposium & Trade Show, Oct. 11-14. The 36th annual event welcomed more than 1,500 owners, operators, developers, suppliers and designers, who were eager to connect with their fellow industry professionals to share new and better ways to build upon their successes achieved in 2016.
“We knew going into the show that we had an outstanding combination to offer our member community this year,” said Rick Root, WWA President. “In fact, our top-shelf educational program combined with our fantastic location drove an 8 percent increase in park attendees over last year and a 10 percent increase over the last time we were in New Orleans.”
“The recent WWA Annual Trade Show and Symposium held in New Orleans was one of the best ever. Networking options were plentiful, workshops were professional, educational and on topics of high interest to our industry,” said Rick Fuller, Administrative Counsel, Hyland Hills Water World.
“The WWA show is a one of a kind opportunity to network with fellow industry peers, meet with vendors, check out new products and take advantage of some of the best educational programming in the industry,” said George Rohman, Sr. Operations Manager, Morey’s Piers, Beachfront Waterparks and Resorts.
Attendees travelled to the Big Easy from parks large and small, public and private, indoor and outdoor, from all over the world. Active leisure markets were represented from 23 countries, including: Australia, Austria, Bahrain, Brazil, Canada, Chile, China, Columbia, Egypt, Germany, Hong Kong, Israel, Jamaica, Mexico, Panama, Portugal, Puerto Rico, Sweden, Thailand, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom and the United States of America.
“It’s incredibly exciting to see how much the waterpark industry continues to expand on a global scale,” said Root. “With new projects on deck in China, Turkey, the U.S., the UAE and beyond, we know that our show attendees came to hear from the best in the industry and uncover new ways to advance their businesses.”
“The WWA Show proved to be another great opportunity to meet with colleagues and catch up on all the latest trends taking place in the industry,” said Jessica Mahoney, Marketing Manager, Aquatic Development Group. “It's inspiring to see the dedication among our members and the drive to continuously want to improve and innovate with new products and ideas that will make the waterpark experience even better for guests.”
This year’s host venue in New Orleans provided the perfect backdrop for everything attendees love about the WWA Show. “Waterpark professionals come to the WWA Show to make connections and become better at what they do on a daily basis,” said Aleatha Ezra, Director of Park Member Development, World Waterpark Association. “They value each opportunity that allows them to interact on an intimate, meaningful level, which is why this year we launched a WWA Show App. Before, during and after the show, WWA attendees were chatting, sharing pictures, making dinner plans, beginning new friendships and generally enriching their show experience!"
“The gathering of such an amazing group of waterpark professionals in one location creates invaluable networking and knowledge-sharing opportunities,” said Cody Butcher, Corporate Director of Waterparks, Great Wolf Resorts.
WWA’s Education Program Inspires, Challenges & Reinvigorates
The WWA Show is well known for the breadth and depth of its educational events and this year’s program continued the tradition of providing attendees with access to the best speakers sharing their most successful and thought-provoking ideas on the things that matter most: guest safety, operational excellence, quality customer service, top-line employee training and much more. Throughout the show, many rooms were filled to capacity with attendees ready to hear fresh ideas, ask insightful questions and communicate proven tactics.
“My head is spinning with concepts and ideas I never considered before the WWA conference!” said Brenda Sylvia, Community Services Manager, City of San Marcos. “We are now looking at our aquatic facilities through a greatly improved lens thanks to the info I gathered at this year’s show.”
“As a presenter, I was impressed with the engagement of the participants and the interaction between everyone,” said Marc Gran, Group Sales Manager, Carolina Harbor Waterpark at Carowinds. “There were many takeaways and you could feel their excitement about this industry.”
Highlights from this year’s program include: the new Pump Up Your Group Sales: A Strategy & Training Workshop, as well as updated content for the WWA University: Waterpark Maintenance School and WWA University: In Park Revenue School, among others. Attendees also had the option to select from dozens of breakout sessions on timely topics such as emerging trends in water treatment, understanding the new FSLA law, employing trackable marketing strategies, improving lifeguard vigilance, hiring, training and retaining right-fit employees and motivating people to lead.
“Continuous improvement is the name of the game,” said Evan Barnett, General Manager, Typhoon Texas. “As we are faced with many challenges throughout the season, the WWA show is the ideal place to collaborate, brainstorm and reflect with other top quality industry leaders. We always leave energized and ready to take on another season.”
“We really enjoyed out first visit to the WWA Show this year. We came back to Chile with a lot of knowledge and practical information to apply in our business,” said Maria Arredondo, New Projects Manager, Aviva Water Park.
Best speaker awards went to:
- Marc Gran, Carolina Harbor Waterpark at Carowinds
- Matt Heller, Performance Optimist Consulting
- Natalie Livingston, The Wave Waterpark
Expert Keynotes Share Important Messages About Leadership & Guests Service
In addition to the wide variety of breakout sessions and workshops, this year’s WWA show offered two rousing keynote addresses the first explored what it takes to be a champion leader and the second explored the role customer experience plays in the success of any waterpark.
First up was Aaron Davis, a National Champion football player with the University of Nebraska known for his contagious enthusiasm to equip others to perform like champions. Davis discussed the need for operators to focus on actions that mean the most to guests. “What are your H.P.A's? High-Payoff-Activities. Those things that you and your teammates should be doing ‘each’ day to elevate your customers’ experience in your park,” asked Davis. He also shared with attendees the need for champion leaders to take time off to recharge. “You ABSOLUTELY MUST take time for a personal ‘off-season.’ Time for you to personally refuel, refocus & rejuvenate your mind, body & soul. You can't give your customers an unforgettable experience if your running on empty.”
Next up was Michael Donnelly, a WWA best speaker recipient and recognized expert and consultant in the principle of building successful corporate cultures. During his Keynote, Donnelly shared insights on the power of world-class customer service and how team members need to be given the tools to deliver on-brand messages that share a facility’s unique story. “Positive emotional connections lead to positive economic outcomes,” said Donnelly. “Seek emotional connections with employees through sharing and celebrating your organization’s heritage, and with guests through providing exceptional experiences.”
WWA Exhibit Hall Packed With Products & People In 2016
The 2016 WWA Trade Show featured 100,000-square-feet of exhibit space with more than 230 companies – several of which were first-time exhibitors -- showcasing new products and services in 360 booths.
"Body Glove [Surf9] had a positive first waterpark show in New Orleans!” said George Patterson, Surf9, LLC. “We made some strong connections and learned quite a bit. I’m sure we’ll be back!”
“The crowd in NOLA was super friendly and very engaged. Everyone we met was helpful and interested in our new product,” said Jamie Goetsch, CEO, Sentag North America.
The exhibit hall floor proved to be the perfect place to bring together experts that offer the water leisure industry’s most innovative products and the people who put them into play on a daily basis.
“One reason that this show is the #1 show for parks and vendors to attend each year is you are not swallowed up by the size of the show floor,” said Keith Schupp, Vice President of North American Sales, Vlocker North America. “Here, you get a chance to meet with everyone in the industry during the show or at the first-class after-hour events.”
“Walking the show floor offers opportunities to talk to peers about what they are doing and where they are having success,” said Ron Hood, Sr. Duty Manager-Disney Water Parks, Disney Water Parks.
The following companies were awarded for their creative and impactful exhibits at the show:
- Best One-Booth Category: Vivo Aquatics, Monrovia, Calif., U.S.A.
- Best Two-Booth Category: Geckobrands, Grandville, Mich., U.S.A.
- Best Four-Booth Category: SplashTacular, Paola, Kan., U.S.A.
- Best Six-Booth Category: Technifex, Valencia, Calif., U.S.A.
- Best Eight-Booth Category: Aquakita, Monterrey, Mexico
- Best of Show: WhiteWater West Industries Ltd., Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
WWA Board Presents Industry Awards & the 2016 Hall of Fame Inductees
Recognition of industry leaders and pioneers by WWA’s Board of Directors is always a highlight of the WWA Show, with the ceremony being held during the Opening General Session on October 12, 2016 at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center. Each year the Board recognizes member contributions in a variety of areas significant to the industry’s success such as: dedication to guest and employee safety excellence in leadership innovation and creativity in designing new themes and attractions and the development of standards that raise the bar for the industry overall.
“Encouragement at every level is really what the Board Awards program is about—whether it is encouragement for a job well done or encouragement to an emerging leader,” said Mark Moore, Chair of the WWA’s Board of Directors. “It is one of our most important roles as a Board to deliver encouragement to those who need it and to those who have earned it each and every day.”
WWA Hall of Fame:
The WWA inducted three individuals into the WWA Hall of Fame, which honors the water leisure industry’s most important and visionary pioneers and innovators. This year’s honorees were:
- Tom Bergman, MMO INC / BERGMAN Communications
- Roger Currie, Neuman Aqua Ltd.
- Steve Loose, Hyland Hills Water World
(Induction videos for each honoree are available for linking to at: http://www.youtube.com/user/WorldWaterparkAssnhttp://www.youtube.com/user/WorldWaterparkAssn
Board of Directors Awards:
The WWA Board of Directors recognized the exceptional accomplishments of 18 recipients in 2016 including:
- Al Turner Memorial Commitment to Excellence Award: Scott Deisley, Safety Skills Training, Dubai, United Arab Emirates Mark C. Hatchel, Kimley-Horn & Associates, Dallas, Texas, U.S.A. Frank Perez, NRH20 Family Water Park, North Richland Hills, Texas, U.S.A.
- Executive Board Award: Lou Cirigliano, Jr., Casino Pier & Breakwater Beach, Seaside Heights, New Jersey, U.S.A. Natalie Livingston, The Wave Waterpark, Vista, California, U.S.A. David J. Sangree, Hotel & Leisure Advisors, Cleveland, Ohio, U.S.A.
- Kelly Ogle Memorial Safety Award: City of Henderson Public Works, Parks and Recreation Department: Aquatics Section, Henderson, Nevada, U.S.A. Life Floor for their slip-resistant, impact-absorbing tiles, Minneapolis, Minn., U.S.A.
- Leading Edge Award: Beech Bend Park & Splash Lagoon, Bowling Green, Ken., U.S.A., and ProSlide Technology, Ottawa, Canada, for “Cyclone Saucers ” Hyland Hills Water World, Denver, Colo., U.S.A., and Aquatic Development Group, Cohoes, New York, U.S.A., for the “Cowabunga Beach ” Murphys Waves Ltd, Glasgow, Scotland, for the development of Surf-Air® Polin Waterparks, Kocaeli, Turkey, for their innovations in waterslide manufacturing that allows for artistic theming, unique patters and sound effects Schlitterbahn Galveston Island, Galveston Island, Texas, U.S.A., and WhiteWater, Vancouver, BC, Canada, for “MASSIV;” Wanda Cultural Tourism Planning & Research Institute: Theme Park Department, Beijing, China, for their work on Xishuangbanna Waterpark, Jinghong, China Wet’n Wild Brazil, Itupeva, São Paulo, Brazil, for their Noites Macabras Event.
Also celebrated during the Opening General Session was this year’s recipient of the Chris Stuart Emerging Leaders Scholarship program.
Now in its fourth year, the Chris Stuart Emerging Leaders Scholarship program was created to give individuals in the beginning of their water leisure careers the opportunity to attend the WWA show. This year’s recipient was Jacob Herzog with Splash Kingdom Waterpark, Nacogdoches, Texas, U.S.A.
“It was such an honor to come and learn from the best in the business,” said Jacob Herzog, Splash Kingdom Waterpark-Nacogdoches. “After experiencing the WWA Show, it was easy to see that the water leisure industry is a family, which is very rarely found in other avenues of business.”
“We continue to be amazed by the exceptional quality of scholarship applicants we receive for the Chris Stuart Emerging Leaders Scholarship program,” said Root. “It is always a tough decision to select just one recipient but we remain committed to encouraging outstanding young people to stay in this industry and grow into our future leaders.”
Other scholarship finalists were: Christopher Duxbury, NRH20 Family Water Park, North Richland Hills, Texas, U.S.A. Allison Gorczyca, Breakwater Beach Waterpark, Seaside Heights, New Jersey, U.S.A. and Megan York, Venture River Water Park, Eddyville, Kentucky, U.S.A.
Wave Review Awards:
Recipients of WWA’s popular Wave Review marketing competition were recognized during the Keynote Session on October 13, 2016. Winners’ work represented successful marketing campaigns from small public- sector facilities to large corporately owned waterparks. “The marketing professionals in the waterpark industry continue to dazzle us with their creativity and innovative campaigns both in print and through social media channels,” said Ezra. “We are thrilled to be able recognize the work of so many parks that are using such inspiring approaches to building relationships with waterpark customers.”
Multi-category winners were: Splash Zone Waterpark, Wildwood, New Jersey, U.S.A. Wild Wadi Waterpark, Dubai, United Arab Emirates, Hurricane Alley Waterpark, Corpus Christi, Texas, U.S.A. among others.
(The full list of Wave Review winners is available in a separate attachment.)
Bringing People Together In Memorable Ways
“We always look forward to the WWA show every year. It’s a chance for us to reconnect with our industry partners and to make new relationships. New Orleans was a great location the city definitely contributed to the fun and collaborative atmosphere of the show,” said Trish Hughes, Events & Trade Show Lead, Whitewater West Industries.
“We continue to focus on evolving our WWA Show offerings to better assist our members in safely growing their businesses and enhancing their guest experience,” said Root.
Highlights of this year’s networking events included:
- WWA’s Annual Golf Tournament. On a beautiful New Orleans morning, dozens of golfing threesomes
and foursomes came together at TPC Louisiana for a day on the greens. Legendary architect Pete Dye designed the course with the collaboration of fellow PGA TOUR players, Steve Elkington, and New Orleans native, Kelly Gibson. Top prize went to winning team: Pat Finnegan, WhiteWater West Industries Ron Sutula, Schlitterbahn Galveston Island Joe Schmitz, Standrock Hospitality and Justin Nagel, Architectural Design Consultants Inc.
- WWA’s Annual Reunion Party. Close to 700 owners, operators, suppliers and developers grabbed some time to with their favorite WWA friends and had the chance to make a few new connections during this signature event held at the Hilton New Orleans Riverside.
- Pat O’s on the River Party. More than 500 attendees closed out the third day of the WWA Show with this lively event at Pat O’s on the River—a place that oozed all the flavor of New Orleans with world- famous Hurricanes, plenty of tasty food and breathtaking views of the French Quarter and the majestic Mississippi River. When they weren’t enjoying dueling piano entertainment, folks found time to visit with each other.
WWA Sponsors Provide Excellent Support
“Once again, we received record support from our sponsors this year. Thanks to their support, we are able to provide attendees with many of the key touches they most appreciate like inspirational Keynote speakers and buffet lunches,” said Moore.
The 2016 WWA Sponsors included:
- Platinum Sponsor – ProSlide Technology Inc.
- Double Gold – WhiteWater West Industries Ltd.
- Gold Sponsors – WWA Insurance by Haas & Wilkerson, Launch Logic, PGAV Destinations, Polin
Waterparks, Van Stone Conveyor and Water Technology Inc. / Neuman Group / Neuman Aqua
- Silver Sponsors – Allied Specialty Insurance, Aquatic Development Group (ADG), Convergence.net, IAAPA, Kimley-Horn & Associates, Launch Logic, Magic Carpet Lifts, Van Stone Conveyor and VLocker
- Bronze Sponsors – American Wave Machines, Aquakita, Berk Concession Supply, Foothill Communications, Forrec Limited, Incord Play, The Lifeguard Store, Pentair Commercial Aquatics, SCP Distributors, Shade Creations by Waterloo, Vivo Aquatics, Water Odyssey by Fountain People, Water Safety Products and Wet Engineering
- Phone Charging Station – Tiburon Lockers
- Special Sponsors – Aquakita, Dippin’ Dots, IALDA and Life Floor
- General Session – WWA Insurance by Haas & Wilkerson Insurance
- WWA Lapel Pins provided by Zebec
- Registration System sponsored by Gateway Ticketing Systems
WWA Takes Attendees Back To The Sunshine State!
Attendees will feel the sun on their face and the breeze in their hair when they attend the World Waterpark Association Show, October 16-19, 2017, in West Palm Beach, Florida, U.S.A.
“West Palm Beach delivers for our attendees on so many levels," said Root. “The weather is beautiful, our headquarters hotel is affordable, accessible and practically brand new and we have an amazing waterpark partner located nearby. What could be better for 2017?”
The WWA Show will be headquartered at the Hilton West Palm Beach hotel, which is located next to the Palm Beach County Convention Center.
About the convention
WWA’s Annual Symposium & Trade Show is the world’s largest gathering of water leisure professionals and development experts. It offers the most comprehensive waterpark education program available offering in-depth, targeted sessions and workshops for every specialty segment of the industry. It is the only show focused exclusively on the water leisure industry.
The WWA is the world's premier water-leisure trade Association serving more than 1,000 park and supplier members representing 50 countries.
For more information and additional convention photos, contact Aleatha Ezra, Director of Park Member Development, at +1-913-599-0300 or firstname.lastname@example.org. or email@example.com.