The World Waterpark Association announced several new strategic partnerships at its recent trade show including a deal to offer industry insurance and another to provide certification.

In spite of the economic recession and record cool temperatures that made 2009 a challenging year for many operators, organizers proclaimed success for the 29th Annual World Waterpark Association Symposium & Trade Showat Disney’s Coronado Springs Resortin Orlando, Fla.

“While many association trade shows have accepted enormous decreases in attendance this year, we were aggressive in going after new faces to increase first time attendees and drive trade show floor traffic,” said Rick Root, WWA president. “We’re pleased to report attendance at the 2009 Disney show matched last year’s show in Las Vegas.”

Root and Chris Swartz, chair of the WWA’s Board of Directors, took center stage at the General Session to announce several new initiatives including a new certification curriculum and a new insurance program. 

“After considering their experience, their reputation and their willingness to listen, we are proud to announce we’re signing a letter of intent here today with Haas & Wilkersonto partner on the development of the new WWA insurance program,” said Swartz during the General Session.

He explained the intent of the new program, expected to become available next year, is “to give us influence and leverage in the insurance market place and help us avoid skyrocketing premiums or loss of coverage in the future.”

“We are thrilled to have the opportunity to work with the WWA Board and its members to develop the first ever association-based waterpark industry insurance program,” said Ryan Wilkerson, president and CEO of Haas & Wilkerson.  “We pride ourselves on listening and responding to our clients and look forward to hearing and learning from the WWA’s members.”

Root unveiled a new WWA certification program, designed to provide industry safety and operations testing and certification for association members. The certification program will cover a wide array of topics and disciplines offering multiple levels of certification in each discipline. Curriculum will be developed by the WWA Education Committee in partnership with Human Kinetics and will be presented in conjunction with an accrediting educational institution.

He also announced two new benefit programs — designed in partnership with Clear Marketing Concepts, based in Tyler, Texas — and confirmed that the WWA will continue to expand its Be Water Aware initiative and National Water Safety Month program next year. In 2010, the campaign will include a series of new PSAs and the World’s Largest Swimming Lesson event.

According to Root, the WWA and its presenting partners will attempt to break the Guinness World Record for The World’s Largest Swimming Lesson, scheduled for Thursday, June 3, 2010.  To date, more than 10 different training and water safety organizations have signed on as presenting partners for the event. 

The partnership with Clear Marketing Concepts is to provide marketing products to WWA members. Splash TV, a new television advertising campaign will be available starting in April 2010. Splash Radio, which provides waterparks with a customizable in-park radio network that can be sold to local sponsors is another offering.

All told, the tradeshow floor featured 342 booths in the 100,000 square foot exhibit hall, including some new and international representatives.

Educational opportunities included more than 105 speakers presenting at 50 breakout sessions and two special workshops facilitated by Disney: The Disney Institute’s Leadership-Disney Style Workshop and the Innovation In Action Tour. The Leadership-Disney Style Workshop explored the core principles of Disney’s organizational strength and revealed the fundamental leadership philosophies behind one of Walt Disney’s greatest successes: Walt Disney World Resort. The Innovation in Action Tour took attendees behind-the-scenes to some of Disney’s most innovative areas, including Magic Kingdom, textile services and the Walt Disney World Nursery and Tree Farm.

The 2010 WWA Symposium & Trade Show will take place in San Antonio, Texas, Oct. 6-10.