Letter from the Editors — Spring 2023


It’s Go Time

For many in the aerial adventure industry, spring is the most important season of all. It’s a hectic time spent preparing for the busy days ahead. Inspections, hiring, training, testing—we’re building the foundation upon which the next few months stand. How exciting!

We’ve been through a lot over the last three years. Each spring since 2020 has come with some level of uncertainty: Can we open? Will people come out? Can we find enough staff for all the people that are coming out? Where did all the people go?

Interestingly, all but the question of being able to open are still somewhat on the table, and the answers are not immediately clear. Visitation, which leveled out or declined for many commercial operations last year, may rely heavily on marketing strategy and choices, which is something we’ll cover more of in the Summer issue of Adventure Park Insider.

In this issue, we focus on the more immediate challenges of staffing and training. To attract good people, they need to want to work at your business, which means they want to know what your business is all about before coming on board. Developing company vision and mission statements, and defining company values, is where to start—and applying all of those in the workplace is the key to attracting and retaining good people. Learn about how to excel at this, and more, in “Staff Retention: Part 1” (p. 32).

A culture of safety is a vital aspect of any aerial adventure business, of course. But the authorities will only believe your business is properly training and equipping staff to perform various hazardous tasks if that training is documented (“If It’s Not on Paper, It’s Vapor,” p. 24).

And it might be tempting to send trainees into the field to work with guests on their own right after they complete their training, but the crew at ZipZone Outdoor Adventures takes an extra step to ensure trainees are well prepared to take the leap. Learn about “fieldwork” in “Guiding New Guides” (p. 28).

Change is Here

The seasons aren’t the only things changing. The Association for Challenge Course Technology (ACCT) is in the midst of a variety of changes at the leadership level. Executive director Bill Zimmermann resigned in February, less than 11 months after taking the job. At press time, ACCT had not yet begun the search for his replacement.

At the ACCT conference in February, Korey Hampton, owner of French Broad Adventures in North Carolina, was elected as board chair, and she doesn’t plan to lead from behind a curtain. In March, Hampton began offering “open office hours” during which ACCT members are welcome to call into a Zoom meeting and ask questions, make suggestions, share ideas, give feedback, or just say hello.

“I believe strongly in transparency, accountability, and access to leadership,” Hampton told API. And she understands that people might not know how to get their voices heard by leadership, so she wants to make it known that she is accessible. “No matter who you are, if you’re a member of the association, you have a way to reach out to me,” she said.

Look Back to Inform the Future

There are a variety of topics people may bring up with Hampton, some of which have been discussed for many years. We cover a few of these items in “Key Concerns” (p. 38), which looks back on hot topics from eight years ago and where they stand now, based on recent conversations with industry members.

Looking back can inform the present and the future, which is why we had Bee Lacy identify some of the most useful and interesting takeaways from past “Park 360” profiles in “Park 360 Debrief” (p. 18). And consulting recent incident data is another way the past can be instructional. Learn where most incidents happen, and how to prevent them from happening at your operation, in “2023 Incident Trends and Solutions” (p. 42).

During this exciting and busy time of year, it’s important to take the time to slow down and ensure you’re making the right decisions and are seeing everything clearly. Reading Adventure Park Insider is an excellent way to use those moments wisely.

Here’s to a successful and safe season for all. Thanks, as always, for reading. A $39 subscription is the best way to ensure this good thing between us continues. Pass it along.

— The Editors


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