Doable Tasks to Improve Pool Attendance

Waters Edge

With time, public pools can experience a decrease in attendance due to a multitude of causes that ultimately affect the perception, success, and bottom line of the aquatic facility. To help improve attendance, there are three doable tasks to consider.

Task #1: Build a Social Media Presence

The first task to consider is to build or update a social media page dedicated to the facility. An active page with good, timely content will help keep people informed and the pool visible to the community. If the social media page is outdated and unkept, it could lead to people perceiving the pool as outdated and unkept. Simple updates to do are make sure the most current logo is set as the profile picture, add a current photo of the facility to the profile such as the Facebook cover photo, and make sure the contact information and hours are up to date. Before the season starts, begin making posts about admission prices, where and how to buy passes, and the programs offered and how to register.

There are multiple social media platforms, but it is wise to only select one or two to manage, especially when there is not a dedicated person to manage the aquatic facility’s marketing efforts. When selecting a platform, it is important to be where it makes sense for the community and demographic. According to community engagement surveys administered by Waters Edge Aquatic Design, eight out of thirteen communities ranked Facebook as the top source for information regarding aquatic facilities, followed by website.

Having a website dedicated to the facility or a landing page that is connected to the associated city or recreation website will be a place people turn to for information as well. To keep it manageable, consider putting information that stays stagnant on the website then use social media for announcements and updates throughout the season. A website is a good place to give the address, season dates and hours, admission costs, and information about programs. Offer a link on the website to the social media page for people to find information on weather closure updates and other timely announcements. It will be quicker to post about a weather closure on social media on a Sunday than to get the IT staff to update the website with an announcement.

Do not stress over the number of followers or the number of views a post receives. When a post reaches 100 people about the pool not opening because of cold weather or closing because of lightning, assume that within that amount are the patrons who needed to find that information. For an aquatic facility, it will be important to post basic announcements, such as facility hours, closures, and program information. The next level of content would be to feature different amenities or events. Make sure the information you post is concise and accurate. Confusing messages or incorrect information will frustrate your patrons and have a negative impact on your efforts. Imagine social media as a community message board for the most up-to-date information.

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Task #2: Host Special Events

The next task to consider is to plan and host special events in addition to the regular programming. Some ideas for events include dive-in movies, food truck rallies, cardboard boat races, membership appreciation night, and an end of season dog swim. These events typically happen once per season and are geared towards bringing infrequent swimmers to the pool.

Two additional event ideas that benefit the community include free meals served by law enforcement and sensory-friendly swim sessions. For law enforcement, the swimming pool can be an opportunity to build relationships and trust through positive interaction with the community. An idea for this is for the law enforcement to provide and serve free hamburgers and hotdogs during regular swim hours. Next, sensory-friendly swim sessions accommodate individuals who might typically avoid the pool because they are sensitive to sensory input, such as the water features, pool textures, large crowds, and lifeguard whistles. For this special event, turn off the noise and large sprays. Special events give the community something to talk and think about, which is free promotion.

To have the most impact, planning should happen in the months leading up to the start of the outdoor season and advertisement of the events should be pushed through multiple channels, such as the website, social media, distributed flyers, community boards, newsletters, and with the local news outlets, including radio. There is also an opportunity within local chambers if the aquatic facility is associated as a member through the city or recreation department.

Task #3: Add Beautification Improvements

The last task to consider is adding and improving elements at the facility that beautify the space to increase its appeal and attraction. It is possible that attendance is dropping because the community is bored of the same pool each year, therefore, warranting the need to spruce things up. It is important for the beautification to be something visible for the pool patrons to enjoy. Some examples can look like updated landscaping, fresh coats of paint, rejuvenating sun faded slides, purchasing new lounge chairs, and installing new shade structures.

Let the community know that beautification improvements were made through some of the same channels used to promote events. Unfortunately, it is possible that attendance is decreasing due to patrons being bored of the current amenities, or because there is a lack of amenities. If this is the issue, then beautification can only do so much. Aged, outdated amenities might need to be updated with something more modern, which takes some planning and budgeting. New amenities can also add to the beautification of the facility and is a great way to make the pool exciting again.

Before spending time and resources on any major beautification improvement, collect community input. This is possible by talking with current and past guests and conducting a survey regarding the pool’s appearance, programs, events, and amenities. This information can be invaluable in understanding how to best capture interest and patronage. The collection of input from the community can also justify and prioritize improvements in a long-term planning or budget approval process.

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Performing the three doable tasks does take dedication and may become an increased priority to keep attendance numbers up. Staying active on social media platforms, planning special events and adding beautification improvements to an aquatic facility can make a difference, especially when all three are combined.

The knowledgeable staff at Waters Edge Aquatic Design consists of former aquatic managers and operators who understand firsthand the challenges of declining attendance. A service provided by Waters Edge Aquatic Design includes consulting of programs and operations of aquatic facilities. Contact us today for a short, free conversation to see if there is anything we can do for you.

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