Letter from the Editors :: Fall 2020

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As we look ahead to 2021, we also have to look back at 2020 to identify the challenges, opportunities, and lessons learned. The Adventure Park Insider team has done this in various ways: virtual brainstorming sessions with industry leaders, API Huddles, and articles in this very issue. The most important look back of all, though, is the 5th annual State of the Industry Survey.

The survey this year is different, as the year itself was. One new aim is to gauge just how much COVID-19 impacted the industry. We’re asking operators to share information about their 2019 and 2020 seasons so that we can truly gauge the differences between a COVID and non-COVID year. The cumulative data from the survey will be crucial in helping us all look ahead to 2021—and beyond—as we rebound and rebuild.

Your participation in the survey is vital to this effort, whether you had record-breaking business or the pandemic prevented your operation from opening. The more survey participation we get, the more useful the resulting data will be. The 2021 season—at least the first half of it, anyway—will be COVID-limited, and the survey can help identify opportunities, strategies, and tactics that will strengthen the industry in 2021 and beyond.

To help inform how Adventure Park Insider can best support the industry’s recovery, our team has been catching up with industry stakeholders—both operators and suppliers. We gathered several of these for a Zoom call in early October to discuss their experiences from this past season and glean ideas for our 2021 content.

Our team Huddled with a select group to identify 2021’s challenges and opportunities. Top row: Patrick Avery and Kyle Werner, American Adventure Park Systems; Sarah Borodaeff, API; John Hines, Adventure Park at Sandy Springs. Second row: Lori Pingle, ZipZone; API publisher Olivia Rowan; Cameron Annas, Granite Insurance. Third row: API’s Dave Meeker, Rick Kahl, and Sharon Walsh. Fourth row: Phil Huston, North Shore Adventure Park; Megan Langer, The Flybook; and Corey Wall, Challenge Design Innovations.

 

It was clear that the season presented many challenges. “What keeps me up at night is worrying if a tree fell and we can’t get anyone there to fix things, or a staff member got COVID and shut us down when we are already maxed with limited staff and resources,” said one operator.

One participant saw the 2020 season as a learning experience, albeit a forced one: “COVID had us look at things in a new light and made us change in ways that may have been needed. We learned a lot about our businesses because we had to work with less and be out in the field helping out more.”

An operator said the pandemic made his team seek more creative approaches to the little things that, when added up, made a big difference: “The question is: What lessons do we carry forward? Can we operate with a better-quality experience, more amenities, higher ticket rates, and less capacity?”

Through discussions like these, and the results of the State of the Industry Survey, we hope to find answers and identify opportunities. We are committed to helping the industry learn what we can from this strange year so we can all build more resilient businesses going forward.

The Editors

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About Author

Olivia Rowan, Publisher — olivia@adventureparkinsider.com
Dave Meeker, Editor — rick@adventureparkinsider.com
Katie Brinton, Senior Editor — dave@adventureparkinsider.com

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