Magazine article Parks & Recreation

Become a Parks and Recreation Trendsetter: Use a Hospitality Mindset and Choose Your Offerings Wisely to Do So

Magazine article Parks & Recreation

Become a Parks and Recreation Trendsetter: Use a Hospitality Mindset and Choose Your Offerings Wisely to Do So

Article excerpt

There is a subtle shift going on in America. Local communities are becoming hubs for family entertainment, and park and recreation offerings are evolving into much more than green parks, playgrounds and swimming pools. With public interest in local family entertainment destinations growing year after year, park and recreation facilities are perfectly positioned to offer a much needed, and increasingly appreciated, service to their communities.

But expectations are high. Major theme parks across the country attempt to "out do" each, evolving into immersive experiences based on virtual reality technology and theatrical environments. And, the fascination with extreme sports continues to grow exponentially, busting through generational, cultural and financial divides.

The demand for local park and recreation facilities to offer amenity-rich attraction experiences is undeniable, from thrill slides and aquatic offerings to ziplines and trampolines to full-blown water and adventure parks. There are so many entertainment options available, and consumers today expect larger-thanlife, well-themed attractions.

Shifting to a hospitality mindset will help your organization anticipate the changing needs of your community members. But, how do park and recreation teams decide what new entertainment and enrichment services will be right for their communities? Here are three guiding principles every park and recreation department should use when considering which trends to bypass and which to ride!

1. Offer Larger Than Life Experiences--In Their Backyard. U.S. workers left a staggering 662 million vacation days unused in 2016, and 54 percent of respondents to a recent Enterprise RentA-Car "On Weekend" survey said that "exploring new places" would make their weekends better. This means, your organization has the unique opportunity to coax community members out of their offices and into your parks. Offering a diverse amusement experience can renew interest in both new and existing programs, as well as increase regional tourism, which will support your local economy. Local venues can capitalize on how busy families are by positioning their facilities as premier entertainment destinations right in their own backyards.

2. Focus on Attractions that Support Your Mission and Vision. To determine the right attractions for your community, it is important to revisit your organization's primary purpose. While most park and rec departments aim to help community members live healthier, more enriched lives, each has its own unique vision and mission.

For example, the mission of Oregon's Parks and Recreation Department "is to provide and protect outstanding natural, scenic, cultural, historic and recreational sites for the enjoyment and education of present and future generations." But, the Minneapolis Parks and Recreation Board says it "exists to provide places and recreation opportunities for all people to gather, celebrate, contemplate and engage in activities that promote health, well-being, community and the environment." The differences are subtle but provide significant insight into what amusements or attractions would best suit their different community goals.

As you plan for your venue's future, carefully consider what core goals will drive your programs. Once you have a clear picture of what your organization wants to accomplish, this will become the lens through which you view all opportunities, including what you offer, how you price it, whom new attractions serve and more.

3. Fully Assess Related Revenue Streams. …

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