Following our article on designing waterparks that meet the public’s need, we list the four main European trends on which to capitalize when creating waterparks and water centers. European Waterpark Association Vice-President Jutta Kleiber identified and shared these trends at Piscine Global Europe 2018.
Waterparks are increasingly ambitious
The explosion of close-to-home vacations (staycation) is an opportunity for waterparks and water centers. To meet this demand they must increase their reception capacities, provide new accommodation possibilities and extend their opening hours.
To take the lead in the water center market, the German group Wund has decided that “big is good” and has multiplied its structures and its concept: the group now operates 5 water centers in Southern Germany, one of which, the Erding Spa, hosts 1.7 million visitors a year. All these water centers feature thermal baths, a vast sauna zone and a gigantic glass canopy sheltering palm trees.
Building waterparks costs money! To extend Badewelt in Sinsheim, the Wund group spent 500 million euros to install a park with water slides and build a hotel. In China, 1.5 billion euros were invested in a new waterpark!
Presentation of group Wund's waterparks
Storytelling: a more and more important marketing argument
To attract the public, waterparks have to develop well-defined themes. However, there are a host of pitfalls to avoid — lack of coherence and originality, and themes which rapidly become obsolete… To make a success of your storytelling when building a waterpark, the best ideas are to play it regional or original, and drop more conventional themes like “Pirates” and “the Caribbean.”
Take, for example, the Europa Amusement Park, currently building its ambitious Rulantica waterpark in Germany:
- Nine theme areas mirroring Scandinavian legends spread visitors around this 450,000 sq.m. space.
- Over and above the pools and water games, the hotels take guests back to Sweden in the 19th century, while the locker room zone is straight from Jules Verne’s novel “Twenty thousand leagues beneath the Seas.”
- Waterpark personnel is dressed in theme costumes.
This strategy has paid off and the new waterpark is already earning money on derivative product sales using the image of a malicious octopus called Snorri. The originality of the theme also makes it possible to communicate upstream and create the desire to come to the waterpark. Although not yet open, Europa Park already hosts its musical comedy called “Rulantica.”
Meet Rulantica, new Europa Park's waterpark
The health segment is booming
More than ever, the public is ready to invest in health, so much so that this sector is one of the fastest developing markets in Europe. This is why so many spas are opening outside specialized establishments, and even finding their niche in public swimming pools!
In Bavaria, the Franken-Therme establishment features an artificial salt lake. 27% saturated with minerals, the water acts on the skin, the respiratory system and the musculoskeletal diseases – a major selling argument.
Salt lake from Franken-Therme
It is, however, possible to propose health services in water centers without having to build specialized pools:
- Organizing aquafitness sessions can be enough to make the difference, especially as these courses are often overbooked in public pools. According to EWA, you have to wait in average 9 months before being able to join an aquafit course in Germany!
- Saunas are always popular and easy to combine with other wellbeing services.
Wellness, a promising market for European waterparks
In Germany, regular users of saunas increased by 6% to 25% over the last 20 years. Saunas are part of the German culture, but wellbeing is on the rise everywhere in Europe.
To structure a wellness offer when building a waterpark or a water center, remember that some visitors prefer relaxation while others look to be entertained. Here are three trends that are worth thinking about:
- Do you know the Aufguss ritual ceremony? This German concept, rooted in Amerindian folklore, transforms the Finnish sauna experience. The aim of this staged show is to fan the air with a towel and is a growing interest from the public, so much so that now there are Aufguss competitions!
- Not everyone appreciates using saunas in the nude — the norm in Germanic and Scandinavian countries. You must include saunas for people wearing bathing suits.
- Ancillary services, like gourmet restaurants, are increasingly in demand.
Discover Aufguss ceremony!
Lastly, wellbeing is an effective way of generating additional sales. Water centers can maximize income by developing a range of massages and care sessions.
The dynamic waterpark market in Europe provides a host of opportunities. However, European Waterpark Association insists on the fact that it is useless to copy concepts already taken. You have to stand out in the crowd by risking proposing something different!