The 28th Annual International Association for Challenge Course Technology Conference and Exposition took place Feb. 1-4 in Fort Worth, Texas. The event drew 1,148 attendees to the southern city and featured several packed sessions.
The conference opened at the general meeting, where the ACCT staff proudly announced the successful righting of the ship after several financially tumultuous years and reported a budget surplus of $200,000, which they hope to increase before year end. Additionally, an appeal was sent out to the membership to get involved on committees and task groups, stating that volunteers are the engine that propels the organization forward.
In past years, two frequent topic areas were the growth of the market, and new operations coming online. “Where do I start?” However, this year the maturation of the industry was very apparent, both in conversations and in workshops held throughout the conference. More and more, operators are asking themselves, “Now that I’m here, how can I improve?”
There were several facets to this conversation, including adding activities and attractions to broaden an operation’s mix and expand its potential clientele. Many operators are looking at lower-cost activities to refresh their facilities and to create a unique experience for guests. The 110 vendors represented at the show did not disappoint, bringing new products and new ideas to the table.
With several data-specific sessions on the convention calendar, operators were increasingly seeking information on what industry data is available, how to drill down on it to benchmark against their own business, or how to start collecting their own operational data.
The Adventure Park Insider team offered one of these sessions. View the presentation here. Editor Rick Kahl led a panel that included Paul Cummings, chief client advocate for Strategic Adventures; Micah Salazar, director of operations at Outdoor Ventures; Lee Kerfoot, president at MN Zip Line Adventures; and Sarah Borodaeff, digital editor for Adventure Park Insider.
The session discussed data from the soon-to-be released State of the Industry Report, view the top line report here, and drew on the experience of the panel to highlight how to utilize the data to help make business decisions at individual operations. The session closed out with an open discussion about how to increase participation in the annual survey. Share your comments and ideas with us by emailing [email protected].
Another key topic, risk management, has been an enduring conversation at the forefront of this conference for years. Multiple sessions presented various aspects of managing risk, from training to litigation and the development of emergency action plans.
ACCT also updated attendees on the state of its program accreditation proposal. Several members of the accreditation task group described the results of a pilot program this past fall and talked about the requirements—largely meeting jurisdictional regulations and the ANSI/ACCT standard. They also addressed questions, such as who will do the on-site inspections and skills verification (PVMs, at least initially), and heard comments and suggestions from the audience. The current goal is to have a limited rollout of the full program at next year’s ACCT conference (February 2019).
At the closing ceremony, ACCT welcomed two new board members: Paul Cummings of Strategic Adventures and Mandy Stewart of Experiential Resources, Inc. In addition, Scott Andrews of Northwest Teambuilding was re-elected for another term.
ACCT also handed out several awards at the closing ceremony. Among them:
Outstanding Marketing Video: ZipZone
Outstanding Special Event: Adventure Park at Sandy Spring Friends School “Bark in the Park”
Outstanding Website: AerialAdventureTech.com
Outstanding Marketing Collateral (non-video): Adventure Park at Virginia Aquarium
Outstanding Fundraising Campaign: The Adventure Park of Outdoor Ventures
Outstanding Structure Design: High Gravity Adventures/Challenge Towers
Team “Best Coast” placed 1st in the annual ACCT Olympics
Community Service Award “The Wedgie”
Critical Link: Josh Tod of Rope Works, Inc.
The 2019 Conference will be held Feb. 7-10 in Denver. We look forward to seeing you there.