Weather policies at outdoor aquatic facilities are a critical component of both your safety protocol and your guest service protocol. When developing a weather policy, you want to ensure that you keep the guest’s safety as the key priority, but balance that with service as well. Essentially, there are ways to keep your guests both safe and happy, and the best weather policy is one that balances the two.
Clearing a pool should be immediate upon the first sight of lightning or sound of thunder, and the pool(s) should remain clear for at least 30 minutes after the last strike of lighting or sound of thunder. During this time, your facility staff needs to keep guests and staff clear of the water, trees and other equipment that is conductive and could attract a lightning strike. While this makes sense in theory, in practice it can be more difficult. After all, what do you do with the 200, 500 or 1,000 unhappy guests in your facility who spent money to come and enjoy an afternoon at the pool?
While it can be frustrating to lose revenue due to the unpredictability of the weather, you have to make sure that your guests are taken care of. You also need to be gracious to your guests who had their stay shortened. Providing rain checks (instead of cash refunds) perfectly balances service and business. You don't lose any revenue, and your guests are typically happy to come and visit your facility on a nicer day.
A typical industry standard is only offering rain checks if operations are suspended for more than 60 minutes, rather than instantly at the onset of inclement weather. This prevents giving out rain checks for a quick 15-minute thunderstorm on the outer edge of your facility. Just be sure to include verbiage in your pool policy so all pool attendees are aware beforehand.
In summary, remember that safety trumps service in the event of severe weather and life safety, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have a fair and reasonable policy in place to keep your guests satisfied in the event of severe weather.