2017 ACCT Conference Mixes Information, Inspiration
The 27th annual International ACCT Conference & Expo will take place Feb. 2-5, 2017 at the Westin Savannah Harbor Golf Resort & Spa in Savannah, Ga., and offer a mix of inspiration and education.
This year’s conference, themed “Search for Adventure,” opens with keynote speaker Jonathan Ronzio. The adventurist, international speaker, and entrepreneur is best known for directing and starring in the award-winning adventure philanthropy documentary, “Between the Peaks.”
The supplier expo takes place Feb. 3-4. Workshops will be offered daily in three tracks: Canopy/Zip Line Tours, Facilitation and Programming, and Industry and Business. Workshops begin with pre-conference programming on Wednesday, Feb. 2, and finish up with post-conference workshops on Sunday, Feb. 5, with a full schedule of programs in between.
ACCT will offer certification courses as part of the pre- and post-conference activities. Courses include:
• OSHA 10-Hour Construction Course
• Petzl PPE Selection, Inspection, & Management: Competent Person
• Wood Pole Inspection & Safety
• Commissioning: It’s Not An Inspection, It’s A Process
• Machine Operator Certification Course
• The Fundamentals of Rigging
• ACCT Inspector Certification Prep Course & Exam
Those interested in the ACCT Inspector Certification program are encouraged to visit www.acctcertifications.com to determine certification eligibility.
Scholarships are available to cover conference registration fees and a pre-conference workshop.
The 2016 conference brought nearly 1,100 builders, educators, and challenge course, zip line, and adventure park operators to Lost Pines, Texas, and the organization hopes for an even bigger turnout this year. To see the full schedule, apply for a scholarship, or to register for the event, visit www.acctconference.com.
OSHA Offers Zip Line Pamphlet
OSHA recently released a “Protecting Zip-Line Workers” pamphlet, which was produced with input from the ACCT Employee Workplace Safety Task Force. It outlines employer responsibilities and worker rights in zip line operation.
Among other things, the pamphlet says that employers are responsible for providing workers with personal protective equipment (PPE) free of charge. PPE may include harnesses or lanyards attached to an anchor or line, helmets, gloves, and/or safety nets. The PPE provided must meet the industry standard for fall protection from height. Employers are responsible for ensuring equipment properly fits each worker and is in good working condition, as well as maintaining all equipment.
The pamphlet also specifies what employers must train workers to do. These requirements include the ability to identify fall or other hazards, recognize and report equipment defects, and safely operate the course per company policy, among others.
Workers’ rights include the ability to say something about safety concerns without being punished. The rule, says OSHA, is, “If you see hazards or an injury, speak up!”
The full pamphlet is available for download at www.acctinfo.org and www.osha.gov.•
ERCA Sets General Meeting
The European Ropes Course Association (ERCA) is hosting its general meeting event, Jan. 23-25, 2017 in Much, Germany. The event, themed “Burning Ropes & Frozen Poles,” is an interim event between the bi-annual General Meeting and Conference.
The event will include networking and training opportunities as well as a “Team Challenge Event & Workshop.” The challenge will require attendees to bring their creativity, dedication, and skillfullness. For more information, visit www.erca.cc.
Insurance Hits The Sweet Spot
What a difference a few years makes. Three or four years ago, obtaining insurance at a reasonable rate was a big concern for adventure parks, camps, and experiential programs. There was just one company willing to underwrite insurance. Today, there are four or five, and the aerial adventure and experiential education worlds are in a Goldilocks situation: there are enough companies writing insurance so that operators can find coverage, but not too few or too many, which could drive rates unsustainably high or low. The market is just right.
“I’m excited about the newcomers,” says Robert Monaghan of Hibbs Hillmark, ACCT’s longtime insurance partner. “The availability of insurance has improved. With Everest, Philadelphia, there are four or five companies now I can shop. So it’s easier to find the best route to go for a particular company.”
That’s a refreshing change. “Three or four years ago, insurers yanked the floor out, so we were left with just one company,” recalls Cameron Annas of Granite Insurance. “And then we saw 30- to 80-percent premium increases. People were getting non-renewed in the middle of the season.
“We’re in good shape now, and overall, [operators are]in the best position they’ve ever been in. There’s a lot more stability now in the marketplace, and it should remain stable—unless the insurers try to decrease prices to gain market share.
“Having too many companies would not be good; if industry premiums are spread over several companies, you can’t cover a big loss. The premium structure has to work for everyone,” says Annas.
Monaghan agrees. With several insurers, he says, “When there are claims, they are not in just one pool. So the claims are spread out more. That’s going to help the industry and keep rates competitive, as they are now.”
Monaghan says that insurance costs typically run between 1.5 percent and 3.5 percent of revenues. “Many operators are around two percent, and some of the larger operators are at one percent or less,” he says.
Monaghan notes that rates have come down, in part, because operators are doing a better job of controlling risks—in particular, reducing the number of collision claims on zip lines. “That’s due to following the weight limits,” he adds. “That was a big source of injuries.”
But for all the good news, Monaghan warns the industry is still fragile. “The companies could walk away if there’s a major suit,” he observes. And that means risk management will remain a key component in keeping the insurance market healthy.
A Booming IAAPA Expo
At the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions (IAAPA) Expo, Nov. 14-18, 2016, in Orlando, Fla., the editors of Adventure Park Insider spied both new trends and new products.
One sign of the times: Aerial adventure suppliers have expanded their product offerings to include a broader range of activities. For example, Walltopia’s booth offered a suite of individually branded adventure products: Rocktopia, Ropetopia, Rollglider, FunWalls, and more. Spectrum Sports was also touting a diverse product mix including Klime Wallz—its new single tower, interactive climbing wall system—as well as Skyride, which the company says is the next evolution in the mountain coaster industry.
Companies are showing greater love to kids. We saw several ninja-style obstacle course variations aimed at the active young audience. The more low-key Sandy Creek Mining always had a huge crowd at its booth—a clear sign of the interest surrounding this turnkey revenue-producing option aimed at kids.
Aerial adventure course builders had a significant presence, reinforcing the popularity and continued growth of such attractions. CliC-iT and KristallTurm had a large demo course outside the expo hall that was popular with attendees. Inside, the expansive Ropes Courses Inc. demo course had 900 conference goers climb it on the first day alone.
Overall, suppliers were very happy with the show and the business it generated. Tree-Mendous took home the award for second place in “Best Booth Design,” and also signed a deal with the Bronx Zoo for a project that includes a full spectrum of aerial adventures.