Concluding our three part series on the Metrics that Matter to Surf Parks featuring insight from some incredibly experienced venue operators, we interviewed Mike Oswald, Managing Partner from MR-ProFun to get his take on how to measure and manage venue operations to be successful.
A little bit about Mike
Mike Oswald leads MR-ProFun’s attraction management practice and oversees pre-opening, on-going operations and on-site teams for a broad array of projects including theme parks, water parks, observation attractions, location-based entertainment projects, and other large venues, including surf parks. Mike spent five years in Abu Dhabi, UAE, working as General Manager for two of the regions’ top attractions, Yas Waterworld and Ferrari World. Mike led the Yas Waterworld operations team through the feasibility and design process, and ultimately its’ January 2013 opening. Mike then added the role of General Manager for Ferrari World to his position in 2013 and went on to lead both park teams to record attendance and revenue goals, as well as numerous industry accolades.
As you an see, Mike is a bit of a venue operations guru and brings some diverse expertise to the table. So, Mike – what are the metrics that matter to surf parks? Read on to find out what he has to say…
What are some of main metrics that measure success for any venue?
We look at the main metrics of success by using a balanced score card approach. The main metrics we measure would be:
– Guest and Colleague Safety
– Attendance & Revenue Targets
– Overall Profitability (EBITDA)
– Colleague Satisfaction
– Guest Satisfaction
What are some of the metrics unique to surf parks?
I would not necessarily classify the metrics unique to surf parks as they are important in any operation, but with that said, in surf parks they are especially critical because the surf pool the main attraction. Here are some metrics with added emphasis within surf parks:
– Uptime and reliability – % downtime of the surf pool equipment
– Capacity Utilization – Number of sessions available vs number booked
– Efficiency – Average cost per wave generated, number of waves per surfer, etc.
– Surfer satisfaction – wave count, quality, variety, etc.
What about short term measurements? A sustainable business model is important overtime – what can a surf park act on and measure in the short term to help drive success in the long-term?
This is a challenging question, but I believe the most important thing is to develop a culture of goal setting and continual improvement. This means setting targets and goals (from the long term Big Hairy Audacious Goal (BHAG) to the short term) and identifying problems/inefficiencies by using audits, reviewing surveys and social media, etc. Critical to developing this culture is that the goal and problems must be tracked, assigned, and resolved. Support from all levels of management and accountability is key. If this culture is developed and continual improvement is occurring on an everyday basis, an organization will be setup for long term success.
“ X amount of people came through the gate, we made X amount of money, and it took X amount to operate.” Can it be this simple?
I think that it is really more complex than just revenues. If it were that simple, it would be awesome! Our focus at MR-ProFun is truly delivering a world-class guest experience and creating an authentic, fun, and memorable surf experiences for our guests. This takes relentless focus on each and every detail, hiring the best colleagues, creating a culture of continual improvement, and delivering a product that exceeds our guests’ expectations. If we can achieve this, then I believe that our target revenues and profitably will come as a result.
From an operations perspective, what are some common challenges regarding operating a pool and venue that directly impact these metrics?
Besides a crazy situation like COVID, I would say that weather would be one of the biggest. Venue operations, of outdoor activities, we will always be beholden to the weather. If it is too cold or too hot, there is lighting, etc. it will effect our ability to operate. I think that good planning and procedures help lessen the impact, but it will always play a major factor.
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