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SPN JUN 2012 InMyView


Claire Mollet is Marketing Director of Hippo Leisure Products, a family run business in Plymouth who are experts and market leaders in pool play equipment


ow can leisure centre managers increase business revenue in a decade where there is an ever increasing range of leisure choices

and opportunities? Full time work and the increasing use of technology in our lives means that most families do not spend as much time together as they would like. Therefore, persuading the family to visit a leisure centre swimming pool provides leisure managers with an opportunity to give their community a compelling reason for parents to do something fun with their children.

The benefits of family play can last a lifetime. Regular visits to a local pool will boost confidence and promote child development in an environment that enables them to explore, discover and play. Hippo Leisure is at the heart of providing adventurous and dynamic leisure facilities that the whole family can enjoy together regardless of the wide mix of ages and abilities. Targeting the community is one of the most important factors when coming up with plans to boost long term income.


We believe that our customer’s success in increasing family visits to their swimming pools has been through investing in family friendly play equipment designed to appeal to their customer base. Research undertaken shows that understanding what leisure centres’ key customers are looking for will provide increased rather than sustained revenue. Working closely with children has contributed to the success of our product design and developments. Direct input and feedback from our kid consultants enables new product designs to consider the needs of all levels of ability within a leisure centre’s target group.

Leading the way in innovative investment are Windsor and Magnet Leisure Centres both located in the Maidenhead area. Both centres have forward thinking managers who are passionate about providing a superior leisure service to their local community. Understanding the dynamics of their customers and targeting the key groups to

encourage regular visits has enabled investment in bespoke water play equipment. Increased traffic, local awareness and sustained visitor numbers have both been recorded by the centres following the installation of new equipment. Record attendance levels were achieved at the grand openings and ongoing success continues at both sites.


Theming is also an effective solution that leisure facilities can use to retain children’s enthusiasm and captivation. Tenterden Leisure Centre recorded sustained increase in traffic using their swimming facilities following the installation of Hippo’s pirate themed interactive water play features. Themed play equipment creates a ‘magical’ play experience for the whole family and is sure to arouse curiosity, discovery and creativity as well as stimulate the imagination. Including features of all levels of difficulty gives children of all abilities the opportunity to play alongside each other which enhances social interaction and play.


No distance is too far for parents travelling to a leisure centre with children if facilities include play equipment confirms our recent research. Danes Camp Leisure Centre will certainly not disappoint families travelling the extra mile to play and swim there. Two installations at Danes Camp including a pirate themed water factory in 2009 and more recently a splash pad, have seen a 72% year on year increase in visitors. The splash pad provides interactive water features for all ages and abilities through a range of in-

ground water jets. The configurations allow the centre to integrate the equipment into both family fun sessions and less able bodied group sessions. Confidence can be encouraged with a variety of water effects in children who are less water confident and in those with SEN. These groups prefer to play on the pool side or in the shallow waters and Hippo’s design addresses these issues.


Basically leisure managers, LMCs and council run leisure centres are all having to compete with increasing competition for the family pound. Reinvention is one of the best ways to recapture a lost market, reignite the disappointed and reengage the lethargic! An injection of energy, colour, and vibrancy to any local leisure facility will guarantee local press coverage and more importantly these days, set the social media network chattering, tweeting and buzzing. Parent’s word of mouth and child pester power will all add to the vibe surrounding a new installation or new play feature so managers need to have their budgets planned and a finger on their local community pulse to keep their centres alive during tougher times. spn



“Direct input and feedback from our kid consultants enables new product designs to consider the needs of all levels of ability within a leisure centre’s target group”

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