Photo credit: World Waterpark Association
Photo credit: World Waterpark Association

The World Waterpark Association recently held its 35th annual WWA Symposium & Trade Show in Palm Springs, Calif.

More than 1,400 industry professionals from 30 countries gathered to attend the event, held Oct. 20-23, to learn about new products and gain insight into the aquatic world of 2016. In addition to the educational seminars, show attendees visited the 100,000-square-feet of sold-out exhibit space. With more than 350 booths, the number of exhibitors surpassed last year's, show organizers reported.

“We were pleased to have such strong international attendance and to be in a venue that provides so many opportunities to connect with other operators,” said WWA President Rick Root. “From the feedback we’ve received, our 35th show was another home run.”

The intimate venue provided attendees with the opportunity to communicate on a more personal level, and the connections even spilled over into the online world.

"Attendees interacted with WWA’s social media feeds in a major way with close to 10,000 impressions generated just during the week of the show!" said Aleatha Ezra, director of park member development for the World Waterpark Association, based in Overland Park, Kan.

Attendees also took advantage of the numerous educational opportunities that the symposium provided. Throughout the show, many rooms were filled to capacity, organizers said, with industry professionals who were ready to learn about the newest innovations on topics ranging from guest safety and operational excellence to customer service and employee training. Highlights from this year’s educational program include the Developing and Enhancing Your Marketing Plan workshop, as well as updated content for the WWA University: Waterpark Maintenance School. Dozens of breakout sessions on timely topics such as EMS updates, impacting the next CMAHC through voting, effective social media usage, lifeguard vigilance, hiring, training and retaining right-fit employees, and motivating staff were also well attended.

“The Palm Springs show provided an unrivaled opportunity for learning what is cutting edge in the waterpark industry while also providing networking opportunities with other professionals!” said Nicole Van Winkle of St. Louis-based Counsilman-Hunsaker. “The educational sessions were informative, engaging and interactive and carefully crafted to support all learning styles and levels of professionals.”

Numerous networking opportunities were also woven into the WWA show schedule. They included the re-launch of the Women of Water Breakfast event, which drew more than 70 women and men who were inspired by speakers such as Kristie Moses of CoCo Key Water Resort and Franceen Gonzalez of WhiteWater West Industries; the WWA Annual Golf Tournament at Tahquitz Creek Golf Resort; the Annual Reunion Party at the Renaissance Palm Springs’ pool following the first day of the trade show; and the Wet’n’Wild Palm Springs Party where attendees were allowed to go behind-the-scenes of one of California’s original waterparks and enjoy food, drinks, and spend time catching up with colleagues.

If you missed this year’s event, it’s not too late to mark your calendars for next year’s WWA Show. It’s scheduled for October 11-14, 2016, in New Orleans at the Hilton New Orleans Riverside. “Few places have the history, flavor and energy you’ll find in New Orleans," said Root. “We are excited to be able to return to a venue that proved to be such a hit with attendees the first time around.”