Climate of Change
It’s a theme we keep returning to, because there’s no way around it: the aerial adventure industry continues to evolve and change at a rapid pace. That applies to regulations, the types and range of activities parks offer, expanding the market to kids and people of different ethnicities, the blurring of the lines between traditional and commercial operations—all of which are developments we report on in this issue.
These topics will likely be explored at the upcoming ACCT and PRCA conferences, too, which makes these meetings especially valuable. As the business grows and evolves, operators need to stay on their toes and adapt—and plan for changes that may be on the horizon.
Our third annual State of the Industry survey and report show that visits were largely flat this year at individual operations. But with continued growth in the number of operations—50 percent of the recreational, pay-to-play operators started their businesses in the past four years—the overall aerial adventure market is still growing. It’s just becoming more competitive in many areas across North America.
The types of activities being offered keep expanding, too. A few years ago, free-fall towers were the next big thing. Today, kids aerial courses, netted features, climbing walls, and ninja courses are becoming more common. As are urban parks and indoor facilities. There appears to be no end of unusual locations and unique combinations of activities, as operators get more creative in order to thrive.
Regulations keep changing, also, and struggle at times to keep up with all the industry’s innovations and creativity. The current effort by the ASTM F24 Committee and its F2959 Aerial Adventure Task Group to update the F2959 standard demonstrates both the desire for a more uniform regulatory environment and how complex that is to achieve. But here, too, the aim is to help the industry evolve, and to provide a greater margin of safety for guests. And all three standards-writing organizations, ACCT and PRCA as well as ASTM, are making progress as they seek to harmonize their individual standards.
In this climate of change, sitting still, or just trying to catch a breath, doesn’t appear to be an option for any facet of the aerial adventure industry. And that is a terrific problem to have, because no one ever gets anywhere by sitting still.