Aquatics Blog

In-Park Spending

In-park spending is crucial to any outdoor waterpark or aquatic center’s financial success.  It’s also the biggest driver of revenue next to season pass sales and daily admission rates.  Operators typically use the word “per cap” to determine the total amount a guest pays on each visit to their park, which includes the combined amount of admission fees and any in-park spending, primarily food and beverage or retail/souvenir purchases.  We’ll take a quick look at each and give you some tips to help maximize your park’s revenue through these two categories.

Food and beverage sales make up the majority of in-park spending by your guests because, let’s face it, everyone gets eit34her hungry or thirsty while at your park!  Couple that with having a captured audience and the opportunity exists to generate revenue through a quality food and beverage operation.  You want to make sure you provide good food at a reasonable price or else your sales will start to dwindle.

A key indicator to your success in this area is your facility’s philosophy on allowing guests to bring in outside food and drink.  The more restrictions you have on outside food and drink, the more opportunity you have to sell food and beverages to your guests.  Don’t forget to include a wide variety of menu options including the top sellers of burgers, pizza, hot dogs, nachos, French Fries, fountain drinks shaved ice and funnel cakes.  But, you also need to offer a few healthier options such as a salad or grilled chicken.  Be sure to mix it up from time to time with specials, discounts and combo meals and track sales of all of your menu items so you know which ones sell the best and which items you can take off the menu because you aren’t selling enough of them to make it worth your time to carry the added inventory.

Retail sales at a municipal family aquatic center can be a bit trickier compared to a destination waterpark, as most guests don’t show much interest in purchasing souvenirs for the local swimming pool.  Items that they will buy include sunscreen, goggles and small snacks including novelty ice cream or frozen treats.  The key in this area is to not keep inventory of items that historically don’t sell.  As a former municipal operator myself, I used to carry 50 items in our retail shop at the waterpark I managed.  I found after my first summer that we only sold 100 or more of 6 of those items during the previous summer.  Meanwhile, we spent countless hours over the course of a summer tracking inventory of the other 44 items we weren’t even selling!  The next year we scaled down our retail operation to only sell those 6 items and it made inventory tracking a breeze.

Now, a few tips for success and we’ll send you on your way.

  1. Develop an attractive and easy-to-read menu board for your food and beverage operation. Nothing creates hunger better than having a picture of a burger, fries and cold soft drink staring at your guests when they’re in line.
  2. Train your food and beverage team to upsell your guests to a combo meal, a larger size drink, or an additional food item. Just a quick, “Would you like to make it a combo meal?” by your team members can pay huge dividends over the course of a season.
  3. Track food and beverage and retail sales over the course of each season to ensure you are maximizing your facility’s revenue.


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