More than 170 key players in the hotel and waterpark industries connected at the launch of the Waterpark Resorts Leadership & Development Conference Nov. 28 at the Las Vegas Hilton. The one-day event offered an opportunity for industry members to learn, discuss and network.

?The presentations were extremely beneficial and informational,? said Steven Wagner, vice president of sales and marketing at SCS Interactive in Englewood, Colo. ?I was very happy with the information I walked away with.?

The first annual WRLD Conference attracted a strong crowd of hoteliers, facility operators, builders, developers, architects and event managers of municipalities who were interested in learning all aspects of breaking into, or gaining market share in, the industry. The educational event was organized by Aquatics International in conjunction with the International Pool & Spa Expo, both of which are owned and operated by Hanley Wood, LLC, and in cooperation with the American Resort Development Association.

?I think it was well-done. There was kind of a who?s-who in the industry,? said Tom Lilly, vice president of sales at Rain Drop Products in Ashland, Ohio. ?It got a good turnout, had good speakers and good people there.?

Keynote speaker John Emery, CEO of Great Wolf Resorts, discussed secrets to success of his company, the only publicly traded waterpark resort business (NASDAQ: WOLF). The key, he told the audience, is using aquatics as the core draw, and creating other options and activities to bring the family together for an all-inclusive vacation.

The keynote was followed by a panel of four executive designers, who discussed issues facing the waterpark resorts market and shared information about their company products, as well as others.

The 2006 Best of Aquatics winners were honored at a luncheon, along with the Dream Facilities designers.

Six break-out workshop sessions followed in the afternoon. Topics included a tutorial in feasibility analysis; how to finance a waterpark resort; different stages of design and planning; weighing costs and benefits behind design choices and building materials; managing operations; and achieving the best indoor air quality in waterparks. Organizers said attendees valued the overall educational package.

?The WRLD conference was a huge success because it filled an information void in the industry,? said Katey Collora, marketing manager, Distribution and Pool Groups, for Hanley Wood. ?Attendees were excited to hear from industry leaders as they shared their expertise and knowledge on important issues affecting the industry.?

The 2007 WRLD Conference is scheduled for Nov. 26-27 in Orlando, Fla. Organizers plan to expand the conference with a waterpark resort tour and table-top exhibits. For more information, including speaker presentations from the conference, visit