2022 WWA Symposium, Trade Show expected to show the industry is back
AT: Pam Sherborne
LAS VEGAS, Nev. — The World Waterpark Association's (WWA) Symposium and Trade Show will be back in Las Vegas this year, and event planners are looking forward to a packed house with plenty of new ideas coming from the educational sessions and those industry experts speaking as well as new innovations being shared on the trade show floor.
The 2022 event, being held Oct. 4–7 at Caesars Forum and Harrah's Las Vegas, is the WWA's largest annual show that provides hundreds of water park professionals with an opportunity to come together to share ideas, address challenges and prepare for what’s new and next in the upcoming year.
Event educational sessions, keynote addresses and other activities run the entire four days. The trade show runs two days, Oct. 5–6.
“This annual gathering is where many of the industry’s most popular innovations have been unveiled by leading designers and suppliers,” said Aleatha Ezra, WWA director of park member development. “And, it’s where many of our industry’s most important and foundational best practices have been created, vetted and sometimes reimagined in order to provide our guests with the safest, most enjoyable experiences possible.”
Ezra added, “No host venue provides the same level of excitement and energy as Las Vegas. It’s called the entertainment capital of the world for a reason and our group loves to spend time together in Vegas where the glitz and glamour just adds another layer to the fun.”
“We’re so pleased to be able to bring our group to the Caesars Forum, the space where we were scheduled to be in 2020,” said Rick Root, WWA president. “We’re thrilled to have the opportunity to build on the positive momentum of bringing our in-person event back last year by celebrating all that our industry has been able to accomplish over the past 12 months in such a memorable city as Vegas.”
Some of this year's seminar highlights include the two keynote presentations. First up, on Oct. 6, is Merit Kahn, a certified emotional intelligence expert. Her session, called “Open Minds Open Doors: What To Do If Opportunity Doesn’t Knock Loud Enough,” will share the secrets of people who are crushing life on all levels simply because they learned how to cultivate the actions and attitudes consistent with those who are truly open for business.
Then, on Oct. 7, noted speaker Punam Mathur will share ways to move from a pandemic to an endemic and beyond by asking, “What did we learn that will make us better and stronger, professionally and personally?”
“We think her keynote address called 'Recover? Re-cover? [Wreck]-over? Where Do We Go From Here?' will be the perfect way to kick off the last day of the WWA show,” Ezra said.
Some of the educational highlights anticipated this year are the sheer numbers. The WWA is hosting close to 110 speakers who will discuss a variety of core and advanced topics in 40-plus educational sessions, panels and round tables.
“WWA’s educational program features the most comprehensive, water park-specific content available in the world today,” Root said. “Attendees can expect to take home the latest ideas on safety, operational trends, hiring, revenue generation, employee development and marketing.”
Some of the sessions set to be presented are Building Your Full-Time Leaders Into Future GMs; How To Creatively Mix Up Your Group Sales Practices And Increase Revenue; Food & Beverage Roundtable 2022; Waterpark Development Through The Eyes Of Design And Operations; Teaching Your Staff To Deal With Upset Guests; How To Target, Market And Hire Staff In 2023 and Profiling Your Attractions For Better Operations.
Root said building connections is one of the top motivators for people who come to the WWA Show each year.
“They want to have personal, face-to-face conversations with people who are on the ground every day,” he said. “They are seeking solutions to the problems that slowed them down in 2022, including the ongoing challenges with recruitment and hiring, as well as supply chain issues.”
This year, the WWA is hosting more than 350 booths on the trade show floor, many of which will be showcasing new products, solutions and services that can help water park owners and operators achieve their goals more effectively and efficiently in 2023.
“WWA exhibitors are always motivated to spend quality time with those who walk the show floor,” Ezra said. “They are ready to craft real-world solutions to problems an operator might be facing. We also anticipate new ride innovations to make their debut at the WWA Show, just as they have for the last four decades.”
Although officially the WWA runs Oct. 4–7, related events and certification courses begin starting Oct. 1 with the first of the two-day Starguard Elite Instructor Development Course. It concludes the next day, Oct. 2.
Also on Oct. 2 is the first day of the two-day Aquatic Factory Operator Certification Course, which will conclude Oct. 3.
The first day of the Certified Pool Operator Certification Course begins on Oct. 2, and like the aquatic course, concludes on Oct. 3.
The first of three courses of the Ellis and Associates Lifeguard Instructor Licensing Program begins Oct. 2 and concludes Oct. 4.
Also on Oct. 4 is a series of WWA University offerings. They are Water Park Design, Development Workshop; Ready, Set, Go: A Guide to Getting Started Workshop and Water Park Maintenance School.
The WWA University workshop participants on Oct. 4 are invited to a reception that afternoon.
The same day, Oct. 4, offers a WWA Advanced Waste Quality Certification Course and a Public Sector Meeting, which is for active committee members only.
The popular WWA Annual Golf Tournament is set for Oct. 4 at the Legacy Golf Club, located right outside Las Vegas in Henderson, Nevada.
The next day, Oct. 5, is just as busy as the previous day. Committee meetings continue in the morning as do many of the educational sessions, roundtables and panels.
The WWA opening session is held that morning, preceding the opening of the trade show.
A welcome reception is planned for that afternoon and the annual reunion party at Cowabunga Bay Water Park will be held that evening. Cowabunga Bay is located in Henderson, Nevada.
The WWA seminar continues the morning of Oct 6, with the first keynote address and educational sessions.
The annual event will conclude about noon on Oct. 7 and the planning of the 2023 event will begin.
But first will be the 2023 season. WWA show planners anticipate members and suppliers gaining significant knowledge at this year's seminar to help them with their season next year.
However, from what the water park industry has shown and reported for the 2022 season, WWA officials feel it is safe to say that the season has confirmed that leisure entertainment is back.
The association representatives heard from members that guests were returning in record numbers. They not only came through the gates more often but they spent money on things like food, cabana rentals, private parties and other in-park spending.
“Plus, for many regions in the U.S. and beyond, the hot, dry weather pushed many families to seek a break from the heat by visiting local pools, splash pads, water parks and water park resorts,” Ezra said. “This just goes to show that our industry has a product that people want and they are willing to pay for it.”