The total solution Surf Parks need to avoid a wipeout
Versions of this article appear in Blooloop and Surf Park Central
Surf’s up on destination surf parks, the latest leisure trend taking the world by storm.
But beyond designing gnarly breaks and perfect pipelines, operators need a total solution-based approach to avoid wiping out.
Pico Play Director Darren McLean said surf parks must navigate a swell of business feasibility studies, market and customer research, concept and technology evaluation, master planning, investment prospectus, project delivery and operational management before anyone could catch a wave.
“The reason Pico Play exists is to deliver fun and adventure for people across the globe and planning, designing, developing and constructing surf parks is a wonderful expression of what is in our core DNA,” Mr McLean said.
“There is so much to consider across every aspect of operating an attraction and with surf park projects underway in Asia, Australia, USA and Europe, Pico Play is in the best position to provide a total solution and deliver outstanding guest experiences.”
One of those world-class projects is a proposed surf park development at The Club at Parkwood Village on the Gold Coast where Pico Play have provided business advisory and feasibility services.
Parkwood Village Managing Director Luke Altschwager said the project is currently being reviewed by Gold Coast City Council and he hopes to receive approval by year’s end with construction to begin in 2022 and the first waves to roll in by late-2023.
“Pico Play has great experience at an international level across attractions and theme parks so with the surf park industry being so new, we wanted someone looking at our project through a wider lens than just surf,” Mr Altschwager said.
“Pico Play is not a traditional design or consulting firm, they have a clear operational history and practical boots-on-the-ground operating experience.
“They understand the leisure and entertainment business and they have passionate surfers on their consultancy team so they get the surf sector.
“Having a consulting firm that is holistic in nature and can look at all the commercial opportunities for our surf park is really helpful.”
Mr McLean shared insight into Pico Play’s strategy for delivering successful surf park solutions.
Create waves where they have never been before
“Whether it’s a destination surf park, integrated into a resort, a residential anchor or a new theme park attraction, we are drawn to the concept of creating waves in unusual places,” Mr McLean said.
“Pico Play is working on an inland surf park project in Asia, bringing a premium surfing experience to a region without any natural waves.
“On the flipside, we’re also working with Parkwood Village on the Gold Coast, arguably the world’s best surfing destination, because there is a strong existing demand for safe and consistent waves.”
A thorough business feasibility study into the available and projected markets provides insight to operators during the initial planning stages.
From Pros to Beginners, provide experiences for everyone
Mr McLean said success came from understanding customer segments and their needs and developing a surf park model to meet each market, whether they surfed or not.
“A lot of money goes in to building and operating a surf park and while surf sessions are the primary product, without additional revenues streams, the business won’t succeed.”
Pico Play investigates additional revenue opportunities – from food and beverage and retail merchandise to recreational access and ancillary experiences – to entice guests to extend their stay and increase their spend.
Place smart sustainability at the core of each attraction
Surfers respect the planet and want to engage with an attraction that is considerate of its long-term environmental impact and operates ethically.
A smart approach to sustainability can also offer financial savings for surf park operators.
“The key to an attraction’s success is not only about making money on busy days, but not losing money on low attendance days,” Mr McLean said.
Mapping power consumption, harnessing solar power and programming waves for maximum efficiency across low, mid and high attendance days can all reduce power costs and energy footprints.
Plan total solutions around the wave for everyone
From business feasibility studies and concept planning to handover and operations management, there are countless steps involved in bringing a surf park to fruition.
Pico Play’s demonstrated success in delivering leisure and entertainment attractions, including water parks and theme parks, provides exceptional insight into those elements.
“The technology needs to be robust, the water quality must meet health guidelines at all times and consistent additional revenue streams must be solidified before a surf park can even think of welcoming its first customers,” Mr McLean revealed.
Bring people together through fun and adventure
“Beyond the ‘wave’ is a need to create a total environment for your surfers and customers,” Mr McLean said.
“Creating fun is at the heart of what we do and that is reflected in our approach to delivering surf parks.”
A full range of design services, comprehensive modelling and spreadsheets and an intuitive understanding of branding, theming and experience is needed to ensure surf parks capture a broad cross-section of customers.