Australasian Leisure Management Issue 142 2021

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VENUES Print Post Approved PP100022562

ASM Global’s Harvey Lister Sustainable Facility Design


Golf Course Maintenance Reimagining the Guest Journey Contactless Technology

Sydney Motorsport Park The Digital Future


Ashfield Aquatic Centre Myrtha Pools Technology


The Fitness Industry in 2021 Building Health Through Play


Issue 142







features 18

Wheels of Progress The ongoing development of the Sydney Motorsport Park


Ready to Entertain Again Havey Lister’s commitment to the live experience


After the Year Like No Other Industry leaders on the challenges facing fitness


Swimming into the Future Myrtha Pools and the post COVID world

40 COVER: Supercars action at the Sydney Motorsport Park.

Sport’s Digital Future Digital transformation and future sporting success


Building a Healthier Australia through Play Play Australia’s new five-year game plan



Sustainable practice in sport and recreation facilities

54 8 From the Publisher 10 Two Months in Leisure for all the latest industry news, products and events

Oasis in Sydney’s Inner West The new Ashfield Aquatic Centre


Golf Course Solutions Outsourcing golf course maintenance

68 People 69 Products

Regenerative-led Design driving Sustainability


A Time to Build Trust and Loyalty Re-imagining the guest journey in a post COVID world


4 Australasian Leisure Management Issue 142

Beyond Hygiene Contactless technology improving facilities

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From the Publisher Leisure’s other crisis

Published by Australian Leisure Media Pty Ltd, 102 Taiyul Road, North Narrabeen, NSW 2101 (PO Box 478, Collaroy, NSW 2097) AUSTRALIA ABN 32 092 549 721

Tel: 02 9970 8322 E-mail: Twitter: @AusLeisure Facebook: Editor Karen Sweaney Publisher Nigel Benton Design Australian Leisure Media Pty Ltd Contributors Shaun McKeogh and Gwen Luscombe

Advertising Inquiries Nigel Benton Tel: 02 9970 8322 Email: Printed in Australia by Newstyle Printing Pty Ltd 41 Manchester Street, Mile End, SA 5031 Tel: 1300 773 438, The annual subscription cost is AUS $90 (inclusive of GST) in Australia, New Zealand and throughout the Rest of the World. Members of AALARA, ALFA, ASPA, ASSA, EVANZ, ExerciseNZ, IAKS, LIWA Aquatics, the Sports and Play Industry Association and the VMA receive the magazine as a membership benefit. The views contained in Australasian Leisure Management are not necessarily those of Australian Leisure Media Pty Ltd or the Editor. While every care is taken with advice given, Australian Leisure Media Pty Ltd and the Editor can take no responsibility for effects arising therefrom. Views expressed by contributors may be personal and are not necessarily the views of their employers or professional associations.

© Australasian Leisure Management, 2021. ISSN 1446-1374

Official Publication

In Association with

Australasian Leisure Management is an Australian product, Australian owned and printed in Australia.

While the Coronavirus has dominated the thinking of professionals across all areas of the leisure industry over the last 12 months, that has not been the only issue operators have been facing. As the industry has begun to recover from the Coronavirus, staff shortages have been surprisingly widespread, resulting largely from former employees finding new areas of work during lockdown; while, despite anecdotal reports that outside activity has increased, overall people, and children in particular, have actually been less physically active than before. Separate to these COVID-19 related issues, and perhaps masked by them, for most of 2020 many sectors of the industry have been experiencing difficulties with sourcing and in some cases maintaining insurance cover. The Australian insurance market has been hardening for several years, as global insurers adapt their risk weightings to increasing threats. Climate change impacts mean that, increasingly, businesses in rural and regional areas are unable to secure against fires and floods, leaving businesses like country pubs and camping sites uninsured. Rising levels of litigation has led to tourism businesses including horse riding, jet boating, amusement parks and show ride operators being seen as ‘too risky’ to cover while international disasters such as the Grenfell tower fire in London have changed insurer’s views of the building sector, leaving geotechnical engineers and certifiers unable to secure the insurance they need to maintain their licences and registrations. Just before Christmas, a report from Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman, Kate Carnell called for urgent action to address what it describes as widespread market failure over the availability and affordability of insurance products for small businesses. With operators across the leisure industry impacted by insurance companies reducing or removing coverage, introducing significant price hikes, and, in many instances refusing to renew coverage, the report makes a series of recommendations. Key among those within the Small Business Ombudsman’s Insurance Inquiry Report is that “where there is only one or no insurers left in a professional indemnity market, the Federal Government should provide an insurance scheme of last resort for small business”. Within the industry, the Queensland Tourism Industry Council (QTIC) is undertaking a project that seeks to identify the specific issues of concern in relation to insurance for tourism businesses. Aimed at businesses both in Queensland and across the country, the goal of the project is to identify and highlight the challenges faced by all parties and in turn explore potential solutions to improve financial and operational viability of all businesses involved. Going further and not relying on Government, the Australian Amusement, Leisure and Recreation Association (AALARA) is looking to its stakeholders in seeking to establish a memberowned, Discretionary Mutual Fund (DMF). DMFs offer ‘discretionary cover’, an insurance-like product that may involve an obligation on the DMF to consider meeting a claim. The Association is looking to work in conjunction with an Australian Financial Services Licence Holder to commence an industry DMF, which, it says “would be owned by the members, run by the members, for the benefit of all members”. Without a resolution to this matter, the consequences could be dire.

Nigel Benton, Publisher

Dreamworld - Whitewater World, Gold Coast, QLD

North Star Holiday Resort, Hastings Point, NSW

Cockburn Aquatic & Recreation Centre, Cockburn Central, WA

The Big Banana Fun Park, Coffs Harbour, NSW

Aquatopia Waterpark, Prairiewood, NSW

BIG4 Gold Coast Holiday Park, Gold Coast, QLD

Oak Park Sports And Aquatic Precinct, Pascoe Vale, VIC

Dubbo Aquatic Centre, Dubbo, NSW

Raging Waters, Sydney, NSW

Blackwater Aquatic Centre, Blackwater, QLD

Tattersalls Hobart Aquatic Centre, TAS

Splash Aqua Park and Leisure Centre, Craigieburn, VIC


Outback Splash, Bullsbrook, WA


Two Months in Leisure Some of the industry headlines over recent months. Daily industry news can be read at

Owners agree sale of ‘leisure-tainment’ business Funlab to private equity firm TPG Capital Global private equity firm TPG Capital has agreed to acquire Australian bowling alleys and mini golf business Funlab from its current owners at a reported cost of $250 million. Agreed before Christmas, the sale by Australian private equity group Next Capital, is expected to be complete in March, subject to approval by the Foreign Investment Review Board. As part of the deal with TPG, Funlab Chief Executive, Michael Schreiber and his management team - who were advised on their options by Arnold Bloch Leibler - will roll a portion of their 25% stake into the new venture.

GMHBA Stadium and Marvel Stadium set for upgrades The Victorian Government has announced a final injection of funds - bringing its total commitment to $142 million - for the final stage of the redevelopment of Geelong’s GMHBA Stadium/Kardinia Park. The project will involve the construction of a 14,000 capacity, two-tier northern stand to replace the ageing Ford Stand and Ablett Terrace, increasing the venue’s capacity to over 40,000 and boosting Geelong’s ability to attract national and international events. The Victorian Government and the AFL have also revealed the designs for the upgrade of Melbourne’s Marvel Stadium precinct with the area to include new cafes, restaurants and bars to attract use away from times when the venue is hosting events. The Victorian Government is also to contribute $36.6 million to the Western Bulldogs’ plans for the $58 million stage two redevelopment of its traditional home at Whitten Oval. The plan will see the building of a new 1500-seat EJ Whitten stand with broadcast-quality lights.

Liquidators say Ticket Rocket lacks funds to pay creditors Liquidators responsible for the affairs of Ticket Rocket have presented a grim prospect for unsecured creditors, expressing doubt over whether all owed money by the Dunedin-based ticketing business will be paid. Released before Christmas, the first report from liquidators Rodgers Reidy listed over 1500 creditors owed more than $8 million including New Zealand’s Ministry of Social Development and New Zealand Post. Companies associated with Ticket Rocket were placed in receivership in August, after reports the ticket agent was not paying refunds for events cancelled due to Coronavirus lockdowns.

ATEC highlights that tourism exporters need JobKeeper support until international borders reopen The Australian Tourism Export Council (ATEC) is calling on the Federal Government to provide clarity for Australian Inbound tour operators (ITOs) and to assure these businesses that the JobKeeper lifeline Nitmuluk National Park. will still be available post Credit James Fisher and Tourism NT. March 2021, helping them retain valuable skilled staff while they have no revenue. ITOs, the businesses which sell Australian tourism product across the world, have had no income since March when international borders closed due to COVID-19 and they are unlikely to see any bookings until these borders reopen. ITOs continue to hold forward bookings for future international visitors and have lost millions of dollars in unpaid invoices following the sudden closure of borders. 10 Australasian Leisure Management Issue 142

BGH Capital confirmed as Village Roadshow’s new owners The takeover of Village Roadshow by BGH Capital has been completed with the private equity group paying $3 per share for the 66-year old business. The deal for the business - which includes Warner Bros Movie World, Wet ‘n’ Wild, Sea World and a chain of Victoria cinemas - values its equity at nearly $586 million. The BGH shareholding structure for the vehicle that will own the company includes separate shareholdings for John and Robert Kirby with Robert Kirby and former Chief Executive Graham Burke as co-Chairmen of the business. Robert Kirby’s son Clark Kirby will remain as Chief Executive. The pre Christmas period saw Sea World open its new Vortex ride - the first part of the attraction’s new $50 million New Atlantis precinct.

Openings and Developments Australia’s largest high ropes course, and the nation’s first at a shopping centre, has opened to the public at Sunshine Plaza in Maroochydore. Sydney’s largest indoor social entertainment facility has opened next to Bankstown Airport at the Aerodrome. Evangelical church Hillsong has bought historic Melbourne concert venue the Festival Hall, which has hosted artists ranging from the Beatles to Ed Sheeran. The All Blacks Experience, an immersive and interactive attraction celebrating New Zealand rugby, has opened at Auckland’s SkyCity. It features five interactive zones including a chance for visitors to test out their own rugby abilities. Western Australia’s new $400 million museum, now known as WA Museum Boola Bardip, has officially opened at the Perth Cultural Centre. Body Fit Training has revealed plans to open over 100 studios throughout 2021 as it continues to expand its footprint nationwide and overseas.

Obstacle course franchise business, Ninja Parc has opened its third facility in the Melbourne suburb of Bayswater.

New aquatic facilities at the Wangaratta Sports and Aquatic Centre (WSAC) are now operational with the $4.4 million Wangaratta Aquatic Project having delivered a heated outdoor FINA standard 50 metre pool. Victoria’s City of Casey has completed several maintenance and improvement projects at its two major aquatic facilities, Casey ARC and Casey RACE during their temporary closure due to COVID-19. The NSW Government’s $371 million redevelopment of Wharf 4/5 at Sydney’s Walsh Bay Arts Precinct is now complete, with the six resident companies - Bangarra Dance Theatre, Sydney Dance Company, Sydney Theatre Company, Sydney Philharmonia Choirs, Gondwana Choirs and The Song Company - with brand new theatres, rehearsal spaces and studios, while ensuring the preservation of the heritage building and its intricate network of supporting piers. The Tasmanian Government has completed the purchase of the Derwent Entertainment Centre and adjoining land from the Glenorchy City Council, paving for the venue’s redevelopment as the home of the Tasmania JackJumpers in the NBL as of the competition’s 2021/22 season. for all the latest industry news TICKETING



Evolve Facility Management, a subsidiary of the Australian National Drag Racing Association Ltd (ANDRA) has been announced as the new operator for Perth Motorplex and will commence operations from mid-February 2021. The new $5.65 million Southern Cross Aquatic Centre - in the Shire of Yilgarn 370 kilometres east of Perth - has been officially opened.


Rackley Swimming opened its ninth Gold Coast pool - Rackley Swimming Hope Island - making it the group’s 25th swimming school in Queensland. Despite the challenges that it has faced through the last 12 months, as have all gym operators, 12RND Fitness has continued with its growth strategy with 14 new clubs due to launch in the coming months. RAK Leisure has announced that the world’s first Bear Grylls Explorers Camp is now operational in the Emirate of Ras Al Khaimah.

The ANZ Bank’s naming rights sponsorship of Sydney’s Stadium Australia, the venue for the opening and closing ceremonies of the 2000 Olympic Games, has come to an end.


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Australasian Leisure Management Issue 142 11

New Zealand Government commits to improving safety in wake of Whakaari White Island tragedy

Brookvale Oval. Credit Northern Beaches Council

NSW Budget backs upgrades to Sydney’s suburban stadiums The NSW Government’s 2020/21 Budget has included funding for planning work on suburban stadiums across Sydney although money will not be allocated to specific projects. The Budget earmarked funds to explore the business case for revamping the city’s sporting infrastructure backing the NRL’s wish for multiple ‘mini Bankwest Stadiums’ across Sydney, with Leichhardt Oval, Penrith’s Panthers Stadium, NetStrata Jubilee Oval in Kogarah and Brookvale Oval being considered.

The New Zealand Government has advised that it will be looking to strengthen regulatory oversight and audit processes relating to the management of natural hazard risks following a review of the adventure tourism activities which identified improvements could be made to improve safety. NZ Workplace Relations and Safety Minister Michael Wood announced that the NZ Government has released the first stage of the targeted review of the adventure activities regulations and the terms of reference into an independent review of WorkSafe’s operations in relation to activities on Whakaari White Island.

Saudi Arabia to host first F1 Grand Prix in 2021 One of the richest deals in the history of Formula 1 will see Saudi Arabia host its inaugural Grand Prix in November this year. Set to be Saudi Arabia’s biggest ever sporting event, the race will be on a new track running along the corniche of the Red Sea city of Jeddah and will be the centrepiece of a weekend of live motorsport, entertainment and culture. A 10-year agreement between Formula 1 and the Saudi Automobile and Motorcycle Federation (SAMF) forms part of the Kingdom’s plans to host an increasing number of international sporting events. If the schedule is completed, F1’s 23-race calendar will be the longest in its history. The season schedule does not include the Vietnamese Grand Prix.

Zoos Victoria and RSPCA Victoria collaborate to build new koala hospital Zoos Victoria and RSPCA Victoria are collaborating to build a new, $1.84 million veterinary facility for sick and injured koalas and other precious wildlife. The koala hospital will be built at Werribee Open Range Zoo, with $1.3 million coming from generous donations made to RSPCA Victoria during last summer’s devastating bushfires. The remaining costs will be funded through Zoos Victoria. Construction of the facility is slated to commence in early 2021 and a large eucalypt browse plantation has already been planted that can provide a critical food source for koalas and wildlife while they are in care.

Queensland Police will not pursue criminal charges following Cairns Showfest ride incident Sydney’s Luna Park to undergo $30 million facelift Sydney’s Luna Park is to get a $30 million upgrade that will include the addition of nine new rides - aimed at boosting tourism and helping in the economic recovery of NSW postCOVID-19. The additions to the heritage amusement park will include six new children’s rides, a thrill ride, a family rollercoaster as well as The Big Dipper - which will be the first inline seating launch rollercoaster in the world. To limit the noise impact on neighbours, this state-of-the-art ‘one-seat wide’ train is smaller than the previous Big Dipper at Luna Park. 12 Australasian Leisure Management Issue 142

Queensland Police have been reported to not be pursuing criminal charges following an incident at the Cairns Showfest in October where a young woman suffered severe injuries after falling from an inverted pendulum ride. As reported by The Cairns Post, teacher aide Darleen Wallace was “left fighting for life after plummeting 30 metres” from the Hangover ride and landing in the hydraulics of the machine while it was operating at the Cairns Showground. Despite Wallace sustaining “horrific injuries” a Queensland Police Service spokesman said that following an investigation charges will not be laid against the Victorian-based ride operator Showfest Promotions. for all the latest industry news

F45 recognised again for delivering highest level of customer satisfaction F45 Training has been ranked for offering the highest level of customer satisfaction among Australian fitness facilities for the third year in a row in Canstar Blue’s annual ratings, earning five-star reviews for its equipment, facilities, atmosphere and value for money. Canstar Blue’s annual review of gyms and fitness clubs has seen F45, Goodlife Health Clubs, Anytime Fitness, Jetts, Snap Fitness, Crunch Fitness, Fitness First and Plus Fitness compared and rated on their equipment and facilities, atmosphere, flexibility and perks, staff availability, value for money and overall satisfaction.

Australian gymgoers spend an average of $79 a month on memberships Australians spend an average of $79 per month on gym memberships - $948 over a year - with adults aged in their 40s spending the most on their exercise ($100 a month). The figures, revealed by consumer review and comparison website Canstar Blue as part of an ongoing annual snapshot of fitness member satisfaction, show that gymgoers in NSW pay the most per month ($85), while those in Queensland ($72) and South Australia ($69) spend the least. Among age differences, those aged 70 or over spend the least on their activity ($51 a month).

Sport NZ invests $7 million to enhance Maori wellbeing Sport New Zealand has announced $7 million in funding over next four years to improve wellbeing outcomes for Maori. This new plan - part of the $265 million sport recovery package and recognition of the adverse effect COVID-19 has had on Maori wellbeing and levels of physical activity - will see the government agency invest in new organisations who contribute to Maori physical activity outcomes.

ONE MUSIC. ONE LICENCE. OneMusic Australia controls the rights to use the vast majority of all commercially-released music from around the world. So if your fitness and leisure business is using music, there’s a pretty good chance that music is ours. Show your business respects and supports our cultural creators those amazing songwriters and recording artists - and read about OneMusic licences online. Our e-commerce website allows your admin team to sign in, transact online and review all your music use details in one place, at any time. Curious about music copyright and the law? Have a read through the Copyright Act (1968).

New Singapore Fitness Alliance aims to improve and promote the industry With Singapore’s fitness industry having been severely impacted by COVID-19, a newly formed body, the Singapore Fitness Alliance, is looking to promote the industry and support those working within it. Aiming to bring the industry together, highlighting the benefits of exercise in improving public health and “create value for all”, Sean Tan, Director of the True Group, has been named the Alliance’s President for its first True Group brand TFX Fitness two year period. 1300 162 162

Australasian Leisure Management Issue 142 13

COVID Impacts Live entertainment industry counts the cost of COVID

Sasha Allen as Leading Player and the cast of the national tour of PIPPIN. Credit Terry Shapiro

LPA calls for Business Interruption Fund A new fund to help shield Australia’s live performance industry from future COVID-19 lockdowns is being proposed to prevent further financial damage to the sector and provide confidence as theatres and events re-open across the country. Live Performance Australia (LPA) has developed the plan for a Business Interruption Fund to provide greater assurance against the risk of disruption to live performance productions or events due to the reimposition of public health restrictions to manage COVID-19 outbreaks or clusters.

Fitness Australia Chief Executive questions why gyms must close but pubs can stay open Fitness Australia’s recent lobbying has seen it question why Governments’ shutdown measures apply to gyms but allow other venues to stay open while highlighting data that shows the chance of being infected in a fitness facility as being a meagre 0.00008%. Recent data from its members showed across 1,270 facilities more than 24 million visits had taken place since gyms reopened and during that time only 19 COVID cases had been linked to a fitness facility. Fitness Australia Chief Executive, Barrie Elvish (pictured) advised “gym owners and their staff have a vested interest in keeping their facilities safe and hygienic, even more so in these COVID times. Likewise, gym members who want their facility to stay open also appreciate the importance of maintaining social distance, cleaning equipment, bringing their own towel and staying home

Following figures that show two thirds of industry jobs (79,000) have been lost as a result of shutdowns due to the Coronavirus pandemic, the Live Entertainment Industry Forum (LEIF) has asked the Federal Government to Concert at the Brisbane Entertainment Centre urgently consider targeted measures to provide additional support to the live entertainment sector. Preliminary findings from EY’s The Economic Cost of COVID-19 on Australia’s Live Entertainment Industry report quantify for the first time the total economic output of live entertainment in Australia, at an estimated $36.4 billion in total contribution in 2019.

Major Promoters commit to Australian Festival Association initiative to revitalise the sector The Australian Festival Association (AFA) has unveiled a 10-person board which will be tasked in leading the $2.7 billion festival sector out of the Coronavirus pandemic. Founding members Adelle Robinson (Managing Director of Fuzzy Operations), Danny Rogers (Laneway Festival, Director) and Jessica Ducrou (Co-Chief Executive, Secret Sounds) have been re-elected alongside Christopher Reid (Partner, Ernst & Young), Denis Sheahan (Director, DESM), Diane Sneddon (Port Phillip Council), Jacqui Elmas (In-house Counsel, Chugg Entertainment), Kat Dopper (Director, Heaps Gay), Kathryn Holloway (General Manager, Cattleyard) and Zack Alcott (Director, Get Skilled Access). Representing members in each state and territory across promoters, venues, suppliers and sole traders, the AFA is dedicated to lead and rebuild the festival industry into a new era.

COVID impacts fan numbers at Stadium Queensland venues

Mass participation sporting event sector facing ‘mass extinction’

The Coronavirus pandemic has had a significant impact on attendance numbers at Stadium Queensland’s venues, with the agency’s 2019/20 annual report showing 1.6 million fewer attendances - a drop of 40% - when compared to the previous year. The 2019/20 fiscal year saw Stadium Queensland venues welcome 2.6 million patrons, down from 4.2 million in 2018/19 while recording a $9 million operating loss. The agency’s annual report noted the cost of managing events rose because of the additional COVID-19 regulations and hygiene requirements, while its expenses rose because of “maintaining large depreciating venues”.

The Australian Mass Participation Sporting Events Alliance (AMPSEA) has advised that the mass participation sporting event industry is “crumbling before our eyes, putting at serious risk the $5 billion it generates for the national economy each year”. Fearing that without immediate support from the Australian Government there is a “bleak future for the 3.4 million Australians this industry supports to get active and healthy each and every year”.

14 Australasian Leisure Management Issue 142 for all the latest industry news

Perth to stage inaugural International Cabaret Festival in June Opportunities for cabaret and music theatre artists trained by the Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts (WAAPA) to perform in Perth are set to be enhanced with the inaugural Perth International Cabaret Festival to be held in June. To be held at His Majesty’s Theatre from 19th to 27th June, the new festival is the Perth Cabaret Collective has welcomed the brainchild of Ali Welburn, news of 2021’s Perth International Cabaret the founder of Limelight Festival. Credit: Facebook Consulting (a bespoke arts PR and marketing consultancy) and Graham Lovelock (a strategic communications specialist) who have taken on coExecutive Producer roles.

Rugby Australia and New Zealand Rugby announce domestic and trans-Tasman tournaments Rugby Australia (RA) and New Zealand Rugby (NZR) have announced that they will stage a trans-Tasman crossover competition, to follow their respective domestic competitions. The Trans-Tasman tournament will feature an additional 26 games over six straight weeks, kicking off on Friday 14th May, with a Final on Saturday 19th June 2021. The competition will feature all 10 Super Rugby teams with each Australian team to play each New Zealand team in 25 crossover matches before the Final.

New Zealand tourism operators struggling with staffing A new industry survey has revealed that, even though businesses continue to be impacted by closed borders, staffing is currently a major issue for New Zealand tourism operators. According to a new industry survey by Tourism Industry Aotearoa (TIA), just over half (53.23%) of the 318 industry respondents advised that they had reduced staff numbers in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, ahead of the usually busy summer season, 60% of respondents have sought to employ additional staff over the past three months, with 45% saying it has been difficult to find suitable candidates.

AUSTSWIM announces record number of teachers of swimming and water safety AUSTSWIM has revealed that it has achieved its highest ever volume of licensed teachers of swimming and water safety. AUSTSWIM Chief Executive, Carl Partridge has advised that over 32,000 teachers currently hold an AUSTSWIM™ Teacher of Swimming and Water Safety licence with over 12,500 new teachers in the process of gaining an accreditation across all states and territories. Commenting on the record numbers, Partridge stated “the impact of COVID-19 and the Bushfires has been tough on the sector. We made a commitment earlier in the year to focus on helping the industry recover and the number of new teachers coming through will certainly go a long way to helping with this recovery.”

Changes look to provide greater unity in the South Australian aquatics industry Significant changes in the South Australian aquatic industry landscape have seen the winding up of Recreation SA and the launch of the new Lifesaving SA body. Encompassing the work undertaken by Recreation SA and Surf Life Saving South Australia (SLSSA), the new body will continue as the custodians of the Watch Around Water program in the state and will undertake “a targeted and specific approach to focus … collective efforts on all inland water ways”. The move follows a vigorous strategic review of Recreation SA, as a result of which its Board of Directors opted to wind up the association.


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Australasian Leisure Management Issue 142 15

20-year expansion plan announced for Coffs Harbour’s The Big Banana

Credit: Queensland Ag Shows

Queensland Chamber of Agricultural Societies gets approval for COVIDSafe Plan for shows The Queensland Chamber of Agricultural Societies Inc. (QCAS) has advised that its Queensland Agricultural Shows and Showgrounds Industry COVIDSafe Plan has been approved by the Queensland Chief Medical Officer. Providing the framework for the planning and delivery of shows in 2021, the approval of the plan, follows, as QCAS advises in its website, having “been continuously in talks with our Government departments and stakeholders to ensure we are on top of all information our shows may require.”

Backing councils will help Australia’s arts and cultural sector to ‘flourish’ The Australian Local Government Association (ALGA) has told a Federal Parliamentary inquiry that directly funding local government investment in the arts would help grow Australia’s $112 billion creative and cultural economy. In a submission to a House of Representative inquiry into Australia’s creative and cultural industries and institutions, ALGA said recognising councils as arts organisations (thereby making them eligible to apply for all government grants programs) would also help ensure a flourishing creative sector.

Hockey Australia Chief Executive commits to act on review into ‘toxic’ culture Hockey Australia Chief Executive Matt Favier has committed to “take the necessary action” once an independent inquiry into allegations of bullying and bodyshaming within women’s hockey in Australia is completed. An independent inquiry into allegations of a “toxic” culture within elite women’s hockey in November amid claims that members of the Australian women’s hockey squad were considering a strike, just months before the rearranged Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.

Motorcycling Australia announces partnership to grow motocross Motorcycling Australia has welcomed new industry body Australian Motocross Group (AMG) - with whom it will work closely to form part of the ProMX Management Team to help grow motocross. AMG was recently launched by long time team owner and Motorcycling Australia Motocross Commissioner Mark Luksich, Craig Dack MX legend and CDR Yamaha Monster Energy team owner, Gavin Eales from Serco Motorsport and Yarrive Konsky from Penrite Honda Racing. AMG will be a part of the seven member ProMX Management Team that will drive the strategic planning of ProMX for 2021 and beyond. 16 Australasian Leisure Management Issue 142

The Big Banana Fun Park in Coffs Harbour has announced a $50 million masterplan outlining a major expansion of the iconic tourist attraction. With the Big Banana Fun Park holding 15 hectares of undeveloped land, the new masterplan will utilise this space to add new rides and attractions, including up to 50 cabins for holiday accommodation, and relocate some of the existing attractions.

The Big Banana General Manager, Michael Lockman with the masterplan document

New Australian Children’s Activities Association sets out to unify and represent sector Aiming to bring together and represent the interests of children’s activity providers across the nation, the new Australian Children’s Activities Association (ACAA) has been formed. Co-founded by Elise Easdown, founder and owner of Whats On 4 Kids in Australia and swim school and water safety advocate Ross Gage, ACAA is looking to provide leadership through education and advocacy while bringing together the broad and diverse children’s activities providers in Australia into one community. Easdown’s motivation for creating the new Association came from seeing Whats On 4 Kids’ advertisers - children’s activity providers - not having anywhere to go for advice and development - both professionally and business-wise.

Tennis Australia reveals receipt of $4.5 million in JobKeeper support during Coronavirus pandemic Tennis Australia received over $4.5 million in JobKeeper benefits from the Federal Government in the last quarter of the 2019/20 financial year, with the funding supporting its operations and preparations for the Australian Open during the COVID-19 pandemic. The income was revealed in Tennis Australia’s latest annual report which shows the sport implementing a range of measures to counter the extraordinary financial impact of staging this year’s Australian Open. for all the latest industry news

Eventbrite new research reveals demand for swim sessions and classes at reopened pools is at a peak Despite the COVID-19 pandemic having forced the temporary closure of aquatic centres and pools across parts of Australia, new Eventbrite research shows demand for swim sessions and classes at reopened pools is at a peak, with a five-fold increase in the number of sessions hosted by aquatic centres and public pools on the platform since the start of 2020. The pandemic has also prompted aquatic and recreation centres to re-examine the technology they employ to capture patron data for contact tracing, and how they manage swim session capacity in order to adhere to COVIDSafe planning requirements.

ARI issues statement on child safety in aquatics and learn to swim NSW industry body the Aquatic and Recreation Institute (ARI) has issued a statement on child safety in aquatics and learn to swim environments following the jury having been discharged after failing to reach a verdict for the majority of his child sexual abuse charges in the trial of Sydney swimming teaching Kyle Daniels. With a retrial likely to be held next year, ARI did not make any comment on the criminal trial, advising that “it would be inappropriate at this stage”. However, it did issue a statement in which it advised “ARI strongly reinforces the importance of Learn to Swim operators implementing child safety practices. ARI advocates for the safety and wellbeing of children and young people that participate in aquatic and recreational activities in NSW. ARI is committed to ensuring that the aquatic and recreation sectors demonstrate best practice in child safety”.

Golf Australia reports boom in club membership Golf Australia’s latest report New member demand … The impact of COVID-19, confirms that more than 42,000 people have joined golf clubs in the 10 months to the end of October with Australian golf’s 2020 boom continuing at a pace, driven by a surge in interest from young men. The surge in new membership demand is 126% nationally - despite the lengthy COVID-19 shutdown in metropolitan Melbourne - and on track for a 5% overall annual rise, which would represent the best such number since 1989.

NSW Government doubles goal for expansion of national parks estate The NSW Government has announced the addition of more than 270,000 hectares to its national park estate, meeting its goals to increase the footprint a year early. The NSW Goverment gazetted 202,669 hectares of additional national park land before Christmas, including 153,682 hectares for the new Narriearra Caryapundy Swamp national park in the state’s far north-west. The acquisition of the land for the new Narriearra Caryapundy Swamp national park in June was the largest single purchase of private land for conservation in the state’s history and was praised as a significant step for threatened species and habitat.

Sport Australia and Volunteering Australia partner to promote volunteering in sporting communities Two peak industry bodies - Sport Australia and Volunteering Australia - have entered a formal partnership to address one of the most pressing challenges facing the sports industry during the pandemic - the future of its volunteers. The partnership aims to further develop their co-operation in the field and explore new ways to promote and positively impact volunteering in the Australian community. Sport Australia and Volunteering Australia have identified three key focus areas to explore under their new partnership - attracting more volunteers to sport; reducing barriers to volunteer recruitment; and increasing volunteer retention and quality of experience.

Forsyth Barr Stadium extends naming rights sponsorship for 10 years Dunedin-based investment company Forsyth Barr has committed to another 10-year naming rights partnership for the city’s multi-purpose venue - the home of Super Rugby’s Highlanders. Known as the Forsyth Barr Stadium since its opening in 2011, the extended partnership will run for another decade through to 2031. Australasian Leisure Management Issue 142 17

Wheels of Progress

Start line action at the Sydney Motorsport Park.

John Moore and Peter Larum chart the transformation of the Sydney Motorsport Park


n what has been more than a difficult year for the sport and entertainment industry, there has been refreshing good news for the world of Australian motorsport in 2020. The impacts of COVID-19 have certainly been felt across the motorsport community, but Glenn Matthews, Chief Executive of the Australian Racing Drivers’ Club (ARDC) notes that his team at Sydney Motorsport Park (SMSP) have never been busier. Asked about the effect of the pandemic on other track activity such as track and ride days, Matthews noted that “we’ve had an excellent SMSP COVIDSafe plan in place and continue to see very strong demand across all our activities. “We were also delighted to have played a critical partnership role as the NSW “bubble” for the Virgin Australia Supercars Championship and successfully hold two rounds at SMSP in 2020. We really put the pedal down with our great partner Musco Lighting to accelerate our major track lighting construction and installation project.” The track lights represent the latest stage of an ambitious transformation program of Sydney Motorsport Park by the board and management of the ARDC which began in earnest just under a decade ago. In 2010, with the arrival of Matthews (formerly Group Chief Executive of the Panthers Group), the Club set about shaping and delivering a new vision for the 93 hectare Eastern Creek site. After an intense period of consultation with the NSW Government, industry stakeholders, promoters, motorsport experience providers, club members, and spectators, several key themes emerged that needed to be addressed as part of any new vision. As a result, they set out to improve the experience, provide more opportunities for racing and track-based experiences, attract new motorsport and entertainment/tourism events, 18 Australasian Leisure Management Issue 142

ARDC Chief Executive Glenn Matthews.

invest in the presentation of the venue on all levels, improve the reputation of the Club and the venue, and become far more customer-focussed. To their credit, Matthews and the ARDC Board (a not-for-profit organisation established in 1952) took up the challenge. With help from Excalibre Insights, a specialist marketing, branding, and commercial agency, Matthews revised and prioritised key recommendations from a 2008 Master Plan and actioned a series of bold moves that would prove to be the underpinnings of the success the track is enjoying today. New Signature Look, New Track In 2012, a major new 830 metre Brabham Circuit track extension and Amaroo South Circuit pit lane and race garages facility were delivered allowing two racetracks to run simultaneously and offer new configurations. The immediate

Musco is Proud to Participate in this Achievement with Sydney Motorsport Park

Sydney Motorsport Park— Sydney, Australia

Learn more about our Lighting Solutions at ©2021 Musco Sports Lighting, LLC - ADINT21-5

Global lighting experts Musco delivered the venue’s Track Lighting project.

30% capacity expansion changed the face of the venue and was coupled with significant investments in renaming and rebranding the venue as Sydney Motorsport Park to project a new contemporary image and identity. Off track too the sound of tradesmen and the smell of paint was ever present, including the creation of the signature yellow and black chevron track design, and a ‘cool’ ARDC Garage Cafe’ for members and guests in a prime position right above Pit Lane. The Club also embarked on a new ARDC membership proposition and has more than quadrupled its member base since 2012. New Experiences, Jeremy Clarkson and ‘Top Gear Live’ Coup At the same time a series of new events and experience providers were attracted to SMSP, and with support from NSW Government agency Destination NSW, the ARDC competed with other Australian cities and Asia Pacific markets to successfully negotiate, in 2012, a three-year exclusive deal with the phenomenally popular UK ‘Top Gear Live’ festival. Ferrari Racing Days and Porsche Rennsport also came to Sydney, and importantly Supercars were back in full force after a long hiatus. The response to the new look, facility upgrades and new major events was overwhelmingly positive. Sold Out Track - More Capacity Needed By 2012, ironically, this success lead to the track once again running at full capacity on more than 360 days a year and with over 600 individual events annually. This was limiting growth for all levels of motorsport from professional to grass roots. The ARDC identified that broadcast quality track lighting at SMSP would further enhance capacity and act as a catalyst for new major events, tourism experiences and the opportunity to establish a night-time economy at the venue. Circuit lighting would also act as an all-important enabler for emerging participation at SMSP from the education, transport, automotive innovation and start-up sectors. Moving on to 2017 and an even more ambitious strategy was underway inspired by a UK visit to the Silverstone racetrack, the British Racing Drivers’ Club and the adjoining Silverstone Innovation and Technology Precinct and motorsport industryled Silverstone University Technical College. 20 Australasian Leisure Management Issue 142

These high-level discussions on how to develop an integrated motorsport precinct offering Innovation, Education, High Performance Race Teams, and new Technology and Start-Ups at SMSP shaped the new long-term strategy for SMSP. One of the early green shoots from the strategy emerged when the technology start-up motoDNA Technology (an offshoot of the successful SMSP-based motoDNA Riders Academy) partnered with global powerhouse Yamaha to develop innovative new rider-safety technology at SMSP. The winning concept put forward by the management in attracting motoDNA and Yamaha was ‘speed to market’. The ARDC was able to guarantee that the partnership could write code one day at SMSP, and road test the technology on track the next - a timeline that often expanded into weeks and months in existing test markets like Japan and the United States. In conjunction with Blacktown City Council, the ARDC also hosted 180 delegates at an Advanced Manufacturing Symposium in November 2019, with many attendees from industry given a preview as to what SMSP might be able to offer as a future precision engineering location. Enhanced Lighting Once again, the ARDC and NSW Government stepped up to accelerate the transformation program in 2019 to underwrite a $16 million Track Lighting project. At the media announcement, NSW Government Minister for Jobs, Investment, Tourism and Western Sydney, Stuart Ayres stated that “adding lights to Sydney Motorsport Park will make it more attractive for major events and allow motor enthusiasts to enjoy a lot more track time. This will make Sydney Motorsport Park the Silverstone of the Southern Hemisphere.” And what a light show! Supplied and installed by global lighting experts Musco, the almost 120 thirty-metre light towers hold 864 lights across all circuit configurations, beaming up to 800 Lux along the main circuit. Bright enough to meet and exceed even the demanding standard requirements of Supercars TV, while adding ancillary theatrical features such as strobing, circuit chasing and full RGBW colour lights capability along the main straight. Supercars is now committing to a longterm Supernight event from 2021. These significant investments also caught the attention


SMART social-distancing




Clockwise from top left: Supercar fireworks, the Silverstone Innovation Centre and Superbikes at the Sydney Motorsport Park. Credit: Sydney Motorsport Park.

of a highly successful technology advisory and investment organisation, PMY Group, an Australian and global leader in the deployment of technology in over 100 major sporting and entertainment venues around the world. PMY Group Managing Director, Paul Yeomans noted “our first stage $4 million investment in partnership with the ARDC will develop a world class technology solution focused on dramatically enhancing the event day experience through high impact fan engagement concepts, best-in-class wi-fi capability and features, dynamic brand, content and sponsor integrations, and a Smart Operating Platform to maximise operational efficiencies and capture venue visitation, real-time customer data and business intelligence.” An investment in the future takes shape The Australian Motorsport Centre of Excellence As they move into a very busy 2021, the ARDC is now at the design stage of a new $9 million plus Australian Motorsport Centre of Excellence and Innovation Hub. The project is again in close collaboration with the NSW Government (which is contributing over $6 million) together with Motorsport Australia, Motorcycling

22 Australasian Leisure Management Issue 142

Australia, Motorcycling NSW, top tier racing categories, Ambulance Services Australia, major universities and industry. The Centre of Excellence will be the anchor development of an expanded Racing, Innovation & Technology, Research, Education & Training and Precision Engineering precinct, with construction slated to begin in early 2021 for a 2022 opening. World Class Motorsport Precinct By 2022 over $55 million will have been invested in Sydney Motorsport Park (60% NSW State Government, 40% ARDC). With further NSW Government investments in upgrading the Sydney Dragway and the start of construction on the new Sydney Speedway at Eastern Creek, there can be no doubt that motorsport is entering an exciting new era in Sydney. For the ARDC and SMSP the wheels of progress will continue to roll on. From the Club’s humble beginnings in 1952 (with world motorsport and engineering legend Sir Jack Brabham as member # 4), or its management of the great Bathurst race for over 30-years, the Club can now genuinely claim to be a leader in motorsport in Australia both on and off the track, and Sydney Motorsport Park as the true home of Australian Motorsport.

Harvey Lister feels that every live event “has the potential to deliver something truly extraordinary”.

Ready to entertain again

Recognised for lifetime career achievements, ASM Global’s Harvey Lister explains his ongoing commitment to the live experience


hen he was presented with the Lifetime Achievement Award at the 2020 Australian Event Awards, Harvey Lister stated “former heavyweight boxing champion Mike Tyson is quoted as saying ‘everybody has a plan - until they get punched in the face’. A punch can happen in very many ways in this industry and it’s about adapting and working with great teams to make the most of any situation.” Speaking to Australasian Leisure Management about the ‘Coronavirus punch’, Lister explained “this has clearly been one of those one in a hundred year events, that no company factored into their forward projections or their cashflow budgeting.” As for how abruptly ASM Global’s operations came to a halt, Lister recalls “I was in Los Angeles for the Grammy Awards that our company produces at the AEG Staples Center on what was the Australia Day weekend and we were hearing about the emergence of another virus and so Bob Newman, the Chief Executive of ASM Global, called together the global senior leadership team. “It was a mammoth weekend given that Kobe Bryant had been killed in a helicopter accident and he was an LA Lakers player who a lot of the ASM management had known. “It was also a huge emotional weekend for the company, and then this … we started planning for what could happen, right back then. “By the time I came back to Australia later that week, we were starting to see the first shoots of it potentially affecting our market.

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Harvey Lister receives the Australian Tourism Legend Award.

“And I was fortunate enough to be able to sit on a global leadership call every morning all the way through until October when we wound that back to once a week.” Through these Zoom calls, Lister notes “we were hearing in real time what was happening in every region of the world and how people were reacting to that. We had our government

owners, the venues we operate around the world, asking us ‘well what comes next?’ “It was a wild ride but enormously satisfying that we have been able to get ahead of the game and to know that every venue in the region will come back eventually into business. “To achieve this we invested a significant amount of money in bringing together a response that all of our venues, globally, could adopt.” Venue Shield, a series of industry-leading protocols, provides trusted protection for the live experience as facilities across the globe begin to reopen and welcome staff, tenants and guests. Lister advises “we have deployed Venue Shield in more than 350 venues globally - providing for the local conditions and local government requirements in each country, state and/or region. “It gave us great comfort that we were able to provide that type of resource, the first in our industry. But even more pleasing than that was, we put together a team of a hundred of ASM Global’s smartest people - including 11 of our people from our Asia-Pacific region - to deliver it. “We divided these people - the real brains in our organisation, our front line operations people with experience across every sector of the business - up into seven different working groups and they were doing Zoom calls every day. They put the Venue Shield guide together, bringing in international expertise, medical universities, including risk consultants here in Australia and others that allowed us, by June, to be working differently and be well placed to be among the first venues to start coming back. “Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane was one of the first, with our General Manager at Suncorp Stadium, Alan Graham, having been part of the Venue Shield team. “The event plan that he and his team at Suncorp Stadium put together enabled us to start accommodating fans again, at Brisbane Broncos games initially, was so impressive that it was adopted by the company in every other region of the world. “For them to start to come back into business, at events that even included some of the presidential rallies that were happening in the USA, was based on the event plan that Alan and his team brought together and which still forms the basis of our international event plans today.” Lister also feels that the coming together of the Live Entertainment Industry Forum (LEIF) has been significant, noting that “in my 45 odd years in this business this is the first time that anything like that had been done. “I have never seen the industry come together so positively before and inviting in representative organisations like Live Performance Australia, the Venue Management Association, the Australian Festivals Association has created a positive mood to see if we can find some common ground on planning for a post COVID-19 live industry. “It’s also been interesting how LEIF has been very practical, and worked cooperatively with governments to seek help as appropriate while some bodies have been far more combatative in taking on governments. “As venue operators we have enjoyed a terrific relationship with other venue operators, including the government-operated venues, for many years and have often taken a collaborative approach to industry issues that have come up from time to time. “We are fortunate in the venue world to have a lot of very experienced ‘adults’ as operators of venues and we consider their communities before we consider our own P&L. “So I don’t think it was open to us as venue operators to be out there wanting to kick the various governments, as some other sectors did. “And especially because of that, we go to understand what everybody was dealing with and we understand that we have a commitment to the communities who have entrusted us with

ASM Global has deployed Venue Shield in more than 350 of its venues around the world.

the management of their ‘crown jewels’ in these major facilities and that is up to us to work with them. “I must also note that the major concert promoters, who are vigorous competitors with each other, all contributed resources, came together and realised everybody simply had to be on the same page. This wasn’t about seeing who could grab which concert tour, this was about coming up with a properly planned industry response. “The Australian marketplace has a flood of international talent just waiting to come and re-engage with this country because of the way that our governments have dealt with suppressing the virus so far.

Over the past 45 years Harvey Lister, APAC Chairman and Chief Executive of ASM Global (Asia Pacific), has been involved in the presentation of over 40,000 major events including multiple Olympic and Paralympic Games, Commonwealth Games, Invictus Games, Goodwill Games, South East Asia Games, World Title boxing matches, Commonwealth Heads of Government meetings, G20 meetings, World Expos, World Cup Rugby League, World Cup Rugby, rugby league and rugby union international Tests, Asian Cup Football, Test Cricket, One Day and 20/20 Cricket, AFL, football, basketball and netball internationals, major tennis tournaments, and thousands of global and national conferences, major indoor and outdoor concerts, family events, exhibitions, and touring spectaculars. Lister and his business partners have been involved in the presentation and management of events spanning all forms of sport, the arts, conventions and exhibitions, concerts and general entertainment and has a wealth of knowledge and practical experience in the design and operation of major public assembly facilities, the events they host, and of the tourism and leisure industries generally. Following the 2019 merger of AEG Facilities and SMG, two of the world’s leading venue management and services companies, Lister became Chief Executive of ASM Global (Asia Pacific), responsible for overseeing ASM Global’s portfolio of business activities in Australia, New Zealand, India, South East Asia and the Middle East. In October last year he received the Australian Event Awards Lifetime Achievement Award. In 2017, he was presented with the Australian Tourism Legend Award at the Qantas Australian Tourism Awards.

Australasian Leisure Management Issue 142 25

COVIDSafe protocols in place at ICC Sydney (above) and at Brisbane’s Suncorp Stadium (below).

“There is a lot of confidence that we will be able to come screaming out of the blocks in late 2021, starting with strong touring line-ups of Australian talent and, when borders open, international talent. “I think a full revival will be more likely in Q1 and Q2 in 2022 when we’ll be back to the types of attendance numbers that we were seeing before the Coronavirus. “We think we will be back to the numbers of 2019, which for our company was our strongest year ever, in 2022 and 2023.” In dealing with the challenges of Coronavirus, Lister acknowledges that “JobKeeper has been a godsend for our industry and I think it’s done precisely what the Federal Government wanted it to do and that is to keep the employees engaged with their employers. “Of course, we also have 5500 casual employees in this country alone and these are the legitimate gig economy employees. “So food and beverage, front-of-house, car parking operations, technical support services, cleaning, and security employees got to nominate which employer they wanted to remain engaged with and a large number of them nominated us because we have provided the most average shifts for them. “I think it’s a reality that some of those people probably are earning more through JobKeeper than they actually earn working in our industry, based on their average shifts. “In our view it was a good program by the Federal Government to keep circulating money within the economy but we haven’t really seen those monies circulating with any great velocity.

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“In saying that I mean the downstream economic impact of somebody receiving a JobKeeper payment and spending it in the marketplace - that being multiplied over and over and over again it transitions through the marketplace, through the manufacturing sector, to raw materials and then back out to wages on the other end. “So, in an economic sense I don’t think we are seeing that yet and with the Federal Government looking at wanting to end JobKeeper in March, I think that is enormously significant as in our industry it has been really legitimately applied, because these are people who couldn’t work because of government enforced shutdowns of our industry. “I think that’s very concerning and I do worry, in fact it’s one of the few things that keeps me awake at night, in thinking of those employees and what do they do until the industry does come back into full force … and that is still going to be a little way away.” At the same time, Lister is noticing some business sectors having trouble getting staff, noting that during lockdown “casual staff, some of whom have worked for us for well in excess of 20 years have had to move on to other casual work because there were other industries that were thriving during the COVID-19 period. “Some of those people have moved on so we have faced challenges in getting the number of employees that we need, particularly in the food and beverage area, for big events. “When the event industry is busy or when a major event is in the city - such as the Bledisloe Cup or the third State of Origin matches which we hosted - when the city stadium or convention centre or arena is busy, so is the rest of the city. “Therefore all these locations are looking for casual workers to do shifts to meet the pre and post event demand. And so that just adds to that challenge.” Mindful of reports that suggest different patterns of consumer behaviour and particularly the growth of in-home entertainment during lockdowns, Lister emphasises “live events aren’t going anywhere”, going on to point to the example that “people have suggested that streaming was the end of live music and that everybody will just sit in their lounge room and be able to listen to things much cheaper than going and seeing an act live. “I look to our young people. They are in the most exciting business, they have chosen to work in the most exciting business in the world. “And for consumers, every event they go to that’s live, has the potential to deliver something truly extraordinary.

The concept for Brisbane Live.

“I think of Bruce Springsteen grabbing Lady Gaga from the front row and taking her up on the stage and the pair of them doing knee slides across the stage with Bruce playing guitar; the Global Physics Conference session where the Dutch professor announced that overnight he and his associates had discovered the long sought after ‘God Particle’; or seeing that pass from Wally Lewis or that kick from Tony Lockett. “They’re truly the things that make live entertainment, live sport and live events, a must. “I don’t believe that is ever going out of business and also don’t see that hybrid events are going to kill the meetings business. “We don’t conform to that view at all. We do think that it has been very effective being able to run hybrid events during the periods of lockdown and had actually been using hybrid elements as part of the conference experience for some time. “Here we found that about 40% of the people who attend a conference event or session remotely are indicating that next year they would like to attend that event in person. “So we expect that more conference events will be broadcast, will be streamed and made available to a much broader group of people with these events becoming a new form of income for conference and exhibition organisers as it’s going to allow them to be able to invite the world in when they do their event.” In terms of infrastructure, Lister is confident that governments around the world will continue to inject capital into facilities, pointing out that “they are looking for shovel ready projects, facilities that will be built and operational within three to four years. “We think over the next few years we will see significant upgrades to existing venues and new facilities in many places and across Asia, into the Middle-East and in India we see enormous opportunities for us as a business. “We are just now waiting for some of those decisions to be taken once everybody gets some more certainty about how vaccines will work. “So, we are very positive. I think we will operate our venues a little differently in the future, as we’ve had to do when terrorist incidents in other parts of the world caused us to rethink things. With COVID-19 we will have done the same thing.” As for ASM Global (Asia Pacific)’s own major infrastructure plan, the Brisbane Live - a $2 billion redevelopment at the Roma Street railyards in Brisbane’s CBD that will create a world class entertainment precinct - Lister advises “I’m very confident that Brisbane Live is going to happen. “The Queensland Government has agreed the delivery of the Cross River Rail project, has their plans complete and the two massive tunnel boring machines are now starting work. Government can now start planning how the above-ground entertainment precinct will look. “I think work on Brisbane Live could start around the end of 2023, or early 2024, which is sort of within the timelines of what we have always thought would be the timeline for the delivery of the project.”

Looking back on his career, Lister stated “it’s been an honour to have the opportunity to live through the growth of this industry from very raw beginnings in the 1970s when there were few rules and very little precedent. “The professionalism of the industry as it has grown has been the major change over time. When we started in the industry we effectively made it up as we went along but today we’re blessed with great operating systems and outstanding people.” Advising that developing trust with key stakeholders, including government, was central to his longevity in events management, he also said that preparation was vital to the success of events. Lister noted “event management is trying to prepare for all of the things that could be a possibility for your event knowing all along that something you had never thought about could happen.” Lister points to some examples from his career, which began when he organised a series of ‘Rock-a-rama’ concerts that sold out suburban town halls in Brisbane and south east Queensland in 1972 and 1973. He recalled a power blackout mid-show during a Bette Midler concert at Brisbane’s Festival Hall during which the superstar used the torches of ushers to cast light on her while she performed acapella until the power returned. He remembers the innovation of Tina Turner who went to the staff uniform cupboard of her Brisbane hotel to fashion costumes for a concert after her tour truck did not arrive. And he is thankful to global star Andre Rieu who played an impromptu set while thousands returned to their seats after a hailstorm forced them to scurry from an outdoor concert into the protective tunnels of the stadium. With COVID-19 having thrown a new variable into the industry, Lister said that preparations were underway for a resumption of shows once the health threat had been minimised. He added “we’re always learning and we’re constantly aided by major upgrades in technology and the entry of more and more outstanding young workers in this industry.” A COVID-19 Safety Marshall at ICC Sydney.

Australasian Leisure Management Issue 142 27


Imagine what we can do together. ASM Global is the world’s largest and most trusted venue management and services company. We realize the potential of the world’s greatest places, spaces and events and create amazing experiences for guests while delivering the highest value for clients, partners and owners. ASM Global celebrates the local culture, individuality and character of each destination. Join us to turn moments into memories, one experience at a time.

After the year like no other Industry leaders explain the challenges that fitness faces in 2021 while also look at the opportunities for the industry With the Coronavirus pandemic impacting the fitness industry with enforced closures and apprehensive consumers often hesitant to return to facilities, the fitness industry is looking to move on in 2021. Australasian Leisure Management asked key industry stakeholders what they see as the key issues facing the fitness club/gym/studio sector in 2021 and how they think the challenges can be overcome.

Fitness First's new ‘Put Yourself First’ brand platform, rolling out across TV, video, press, digital and social media.

“While this continues to be somewhat of an issue we see it normalising over the next six months as the vaccines are rolled out across most of APAC. Efficacy of the vaccines and the speed to get a substantive proportion of the population vaccinated will also play a part in our recovery while also mitigating the issues that we see with cluster breakouts that have caused some disruption. We have seen some shifts towards at-home fitness from a content and equipment perspective although we see this as helping grow the category and provide more flexible consumption. We can see from our customer feedback that time spent working out before the pandemic was ‘me time’, and part of the satisfaction of going to the gym is being able to focus on the self and being part of a community that values self-improvement.”

Greg Oliver, Group Chief Executive and Managing Director, Fitness and Lifestyle Group “We are very optimistic in regards to the 2021 outlook and expect to see a strong bounce towards the second half of the calendar year. Clearly, the impacts of the virus are affecting the industry to varying degrees across the globe, pleasingly for us the APAC regions have been less impacted across sales performance and member retention metrics. “On the domestic front, at a macro level, we are confident that consumer demand for our product and services will remain high, especially as the fear of congregation subsides and the need to regain the sense of community and personal connection drives consumers back into our facilities. While there is still some concern around the removal or watering down of the government economic stimulus programs currently offered we expect that the return to economic growth and continued consumer spending will remain strong. Our products have shown their resilience through tough economic conditions due to the almost non-discretionary nature of the category, although in the management of COVID, where the restrictions and controls have been mandated outside of our control the capacity and operating restrictions were debilitating. 30 Australasian Leisure Management Issue 142

Mel Tempest, fitness business influencer, speaker, podcaster and founder at Ignite Fitness Business Events “When the crisis hit in March businesses pivoted online, and this was not just gym owners creating online classes but also events, educational training, personal training - whatever it was it went online. “And the year saw control of our businesses taken away - our wages, our security, our hopes - we were dependent on those voted in and who now paid our wages and, unfortunately, a lot of us were at the mercy of landlords.

“The fitness domino fell and fell hard, many left voluntarily, many were forced and the ASIC website grew from three pages to 13 pages of gyms and suppliers listed as they closed the doors. “One of the biggest issues facing club owners in 2021 will be new gyms and business models opening by those that once worked for us. “A new appreciation of life, gratitude and the all round Aussie behaviour ‘to have a crack’ has encouraged people to have a go to be in control of their destiny. “And while we are not a saturated market, we are a market that continues to replicate itself. “2020 was a smack in the face on just how dependent many were. Many clubs couldn’t offer JobKeeper, this led to trainers/ instructors registering for JobSeeker. “Many started their own business online and then when able moved their business outside - outdoor fitness business became bigger than what we knew. Bootcamps were no longer the only model, outdoor cycle classes, barbell, step, boxing, kettlebell, functional training and wellbeing, if you could teach it indoors it became an outdoor model. The lesson learnt here from many was they were capable of running their own business. “Real estate agents nationally have seen an increase in renting out commercial and industrial properties to the new founded COVID entrepreneur, their COVID success means they no longer need to return to life prior to 2020, no longer dependent on the turnover of another person’s business. “They have opportunity all around them, they have the skills taught to them previously and the resources from that experience, they have been active in business through the shutdown. “This is the new competition - with some still running under their own trading name and some signing up with the many new studios/boutiques launching in Australia in 2021. “These new boutiques are fresh, exciting, simple and financially viable to launch, with systems and structures to become more successful as they steer their own ship.”

Ben Lucas, Director of fitness and yoga studio Flow Athletic “The key issue facing fitness clubs in 2021 from my perspective is how we are going to be able to stay open with on-going social distancing within studios due to COVID-19. “Boutique studios with reduced numbers equals reduced income not to mention the increased expense of having to add extra classes to fit members in. “How are you going to make up for the lost revenue plus increased class and cleaning expense with no relief in sight?” 32 Australasian Leisure Management Issue 142

Michael Jordan, Chief Executive, 12RND Fitness “Last year the fitness industry endured forced shutdowns, significant operational restrictions and the pressures of ongoing public safety concerns, which prompted many to adapt or completely transform their models. “These challenges will likely continue in 2021 as we’ve seen already through sporadic lockdowns globally, so our industry will need to remain nimble and resilient this year. The areas that we have focused on at 12RND to stay engaged with our members and our franchisees, and in order to overcome these challenges are: innovation, communication and support. “Innovation has been one of our biggest drivers of growth throughout the impacts of COVID-19, with the introduction of apps and in-club technological developments last year allowing us to elevate the training experience for members, and continue to engage with them both in and out of the club environment. Communication was vital throughout this time, firstly to ensure our network was fully equipped with the information and resources they needed to effectively roll out these new releases, and to ensure that they could remain connected with their members during club closures. “Most of all, the extensive support our franchisees and coaches provided members and the wider community during the hardships of 2020 created strong bonds and goodwill. This led to quick reactivations and strong membership sales post lockdowns. Our strategy this year is to continue to streamline and increase effectiveness across these areas, starting with the Premium release of our Train: On Demand app. This release is the latest step in our smart club evolution towards a hybrid model that enhances value for our members, and will drive membership and network growth throughout 2021.”

Requirements • Min 500 members • min 400m2 premises • • • •

Profitable over the previous 24-36 months Opportunity to grow Multi-club operations (desirable but not essential) Will consider franchised locations if the franchise can be terminated

Deborah Goldberg, fitness catalyst and connector “The key issue facing the fitness club/gym/studio sector in 2021 is sustainability (and) what this means is the brick and mortar fitness business must build a sustainable business for it to survive 2021. “The business must focus on building a sustainable ongoing service that will retain active paying members by providing a Hybrid delivery of programming, classes and mental health support. “Humanising the way the digital is offered will be a key to success for 2021 and of course, attracting new active paying members with a global reach with a unique virtual approach to technology. “Other key issues I identify as being • Adapting to technology and being digitally aware • Staff retention and training • Ensuring hygiene budget • Staying relevant to a global community • Hyper local marketing • Personalised programming • Overcoming the fear that Peloton, Apple Fitness and other disruptors will take over the industry

Justin McDonell, co-founder, Anytime Australia Pty Ltd “Uncertainty in operational restrictions placed on clubs/studios is one of the biggest challenges that will continue from last year into 2021, especially with each state/territory in Australia approaching and managing COVID differently. “We need to ensure our members and customers feel safe and ensure that the health departments are aware that Fitness Facilities are safe places. We have the data to prove that our facilities are not a place where there is a high risk of COVID transmission. “Until the vaccine is rolled out in Australia and a large part of the world we need to adapt and work as best we can in the uncertainly of what we have.” 34 Australasian Leisure Management Issue 142

Tim Schleiger, Director The Sports Clinic of Melbourne and founder of Train 24/7 Fitness and VicActive “2020 could be easily forgotten by all of us, especially those in the fitness industry who wore the full brunt of the harsh lockdowns due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Victorian gym owners were unable to open their fitness facilities for seven months causing both economic disaster and a mental and physical health catastrophe with fitness enthusiasts unable to get to their all-important happy place. “(Looking forward) there is still a lot of water to travel under the bridge regarding the impact of COVID-19 on the fitness sector in 2021. “So often last year the state premiers told us that the troubles faced in Europe, the US and the UK were a completely different narrative to what happened in Australia. Yet both here and abroad, bottle shops stayed open, construction stayed open while gyms and fitness facilities were slammed shut. “The proudest moment I had last year was observing key players of the international fitness industry collaborating to gain as much data as possible to prove that gyms are an essential service, and they are COVIDSafe. In the space of six months, we went from an industry that was perceived less safe than pubs, night clubs, and even brothels, to an industry with top class COVIDSafe standards. We achieved this by utilising science and real, irrefutable data that not even politicians could deny. “Looking ahead to this winter, we only need to observe the past to see the ease in which our state premiers have shifted into lookdown mode at the slightest hint of a positive case or two. For this reason alone, we need to stay united and on the front foot in reminding governments and our local communities to listen to the data, listen to the science and that we are here to keep our communities healthy, happy and safe. “2021 for the fitness industry in Australia is all about the rebuild. The rebuild of the mental and physical health of Australia’s population. In order for this to be achieved, we need to ensure that we keep our parks, studios, fitness facilities, recreation centres and gyms open. We need to continue to unite as an industry and work together as a professional unit that can be perceived only as an essential service. I believe there is still a long way to go on this, but in the meantime let’s start by getting Australian’s physical and mental health back on track by doing what we all do best.” for all the latest industry news

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RenovAction technology at the Temuka Outdoor Swimming Pool.

Myrtha installation at Swimtastic Auckland.

Myrtha installation at the Mandurah Aquatic and Recreation Centre.

Myrtha installation at Auckland’s Northern Arena.

Swimming into the Future Gwen Luscombe explains how Myrtha Pools have emerged from the COVID-19 pandemic stronger than ever


rom the world championship water polo pool at Perth’s HBF stadium to Taupo’s AC Baths and pools at the Melbourne Sports & Aquatic Centre, David Bennison of Myrtha Pools is proud that the renowned aquatic facilities company has survived the Coronavirus pandemic and is confident about what the future holds. A longstanding leader in developing technology used in constructing swimming pools since they began fabricating equipment in Italy in 1961, Myrtha has been in the Australasian market since 1996 when they built the water polo pool at Perth’s HBF Stadium for the 1997 World Swimming Championships. Bennison, Myrtha’s Australasian Business Development Manager explains “that pool to this day remains as one of the best Myrtha references in Australia. A real testament to the longevity and low maintenance of the Myrtha Pools system.” Advising that the company is now represented in more than 70 countries producing in excess of 1500 pools a year, roughly 300 of which are commercial and has a longstanding partnership with swimming’s international federation, FINA, regularly providing pools for Olympic Games and World Championship events globally, Bennison notes “in 1977, the company acquired the patent for Myrtha Technology, completely revolutionising the swimming pool industry by introducing a PVC laminated stainless steel panel system for the construction of swimming pools.”

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With a team of three direct employees for the Australia and New Zealand market and nine distributors, they cover everything from high-end residential to large scale commercial projects. Like so many businesses, the impacts of the COVID pandemic were certainly felt. Their manufacturer is based in the Lombardy province in northern Italy and with global logistics and manufacturing severely impacted, Myrtha found themselves in a particularly tricky situation but adding a team member helped ease a small part of the burden, says Bennison. Just prior to the COVID-19 outbreak, their Australian team grew with the addition of a Technical Sales Engineer - Bruno Antoniol – who started with the business in April 2020 Bennison advises “with myself being stuck in New Zealand and Greg Clark our Technical Manager based in Western Australia, it meant we had someone in the eastern states of Australia through this whole period and were able to maintain a physical presence in the market. “Initially we were able to keep our production facility operational with specific measures put in place to minimise the risk to staff. This was critical as we had a number of AUS projects scheduled for production around March and keeping the production facility open for as long as possible enabled us to make as much progress on these projects as possible before government enforced lockdown shutting down our production facility.”

“All the head office staff including all of our design resources were able to adapt to working remotely from home which enabled us to continue to progress other projects that were still working through the detailed design phase. This meant when the lockdown was lifted, we were able to move these projects into production with only minor delays.” Bennison says they were fortunate in many ways that the construction industry was one of few able to remain open, allowing projects to continue on site at a fairly normal pace. However, with the closure of their overseas factory, they were unable to complete production for some projects. As Bennison highlights “in a number of cases we air freighted items out to Australia as soon as the lockdown was lifted, enabling us to make up some time. We are also very fortunate that our product is fast to install and can be flexible around construction program so in one case in particular the construction program was adjusted to move the installation of the pools to a later stage in the program and minimise the impact on site.” Bennison also says that because they self-manufacture many of their components and only rely on a small number of third-party suppliers that they were able to avoid many roadblocks, commenting “our biggest challenge in regards to international suppliers is the fact that we ourselves are an international supplier, so we are manufacturing in Italy and shipping all around the world. “The biggest impact has been the reduction in air freight capacity. Where we could previously send components out by air freight to speed up the construction program the cost of this has become prohibitive so we now need to make sure we have everything co-ordinated and ready to ship all in one go by sea freight.” Explaining that with much of the busines in Italy conducted

face-to-face, the local team faced another unique challenge with Bennison in lockdown in Christchurch. Forced to embrace technology, use online conferencing and consider alternative collaboration systems that have allowed better connectivity across their projects, Bennison adds “where we would previously have a face to face sit down with a client or design team to talk through design detail, we are now trying to schedule these sorts of meetings at times that enables everyone involved to dial into the meeting so we can have people from Italy, Australia and New Zealand all in the call at once. This cuts out the risk of transferring information from a meeting onto our design team in Italy and speeds the design process up significantly. “We will be launching a quarterly Myrtha Pools communication bulletin via email to our Australian and New Zealand database that will feature technical updates, project features and updates on what Myrtha Pools are doing around the world.” Myrtha is set to continue into 2021 strong following a strong 2019 where they finished the year in Las Vegas for the International Swimming League Grand Final, an eco-friendly sport-event which challenged them to create a temporary installation suiting the event’s theme of transparency. The installation included an impressive and industry-first 21-meter acrylic wall. The first half of 2020 saw a refresh within the Tasmajdan Sports Centre in Belgrade, Serbia when Myrtha renewed the outdoor concrete Olympic pool with a steel bottom, completing the project in August. The pool has opened and had been approved for upcoming competitions, community and recreational use. Freelance tourism, events and food writer, Gwen Luscombe is Director of the Ideas Library and a former Editor of Spice magazine.







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Sport’s Digital Future Martin Sheppard sees that digital transformation is key to future sporting success on and off the field


ith sport consumption through participation, fan engagement, stakeholder and sponsor relationships being challenged to continually evolve and pivot, the current challenges of COVID-19 have placed greater strain on sports organisations, emphasising the need to explore opportunities to fast track generational changes. National sporting organisations (NSOs), state sporting associations (SSAs), commercial sports clubs and local associations are doing this not only to survive, but also to adapt and invest in ways to do things better to stay relevant, to expand, and to meet the changing needs of consumers. With digital solutions seen as a potential panacea, global leaders such as Microsoft are at the forefront of this fundamental shift. Now recognised as the most advanced supplier of artificial intelligence and machine learning capability, they are sharing their insights to help businesses maximise performance. It was only a matter of time before the sports sector could embrace these solutions. However, despite having reduced revenue and resources, organisations are expected to deliver the same or more than before. Some sports may be grasping at technology to make their jobs easier in what they believe to be key areas of their business and specific priorities, as opposed to a whole of business approach. All technology will do in these circumstances is provide the same answer quicker. The imperative must be for sports organisations to understand the holistic business challenges and what transformation is needed. The commitment to business transformation must start before the technology is introduced. Technology is an enabler that needs purpose. It is not the reason to change our business processes to meet the technology solution. Successful transformation can deliver profound, organisationwide improvements to business efficiency, staff and customer experiences with the organisations’ overarching success 40 Australasian Leisure Management Issue 142

and sustainability as the outcome. Business transformation is far more than quality improvements in one key area, such as marketing, communications, or finance or HR. It is the commitment to holistically embrace a customer-centric approach across all facets of the business. Change management within organisations is now relatively common. Capability and capacity enhancement within sports organisations can mean greater internal productivity and enhanced external stakeholder satisfaction. Digital transformation embraces the smarts of technology to provide the information infrastructure backbone, enabling continuously improving engagement with customers, stakeholders and sponsors. The technology should provide structure and support, to make better, faster, more impactful decisions to be more effective and efficient in coping with the challenges and opportunities. Digital transformation in not a trade-off, it forms a virtuous circle, enabling organisations to do far more with far

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less, while delivering ever-improving outcomes for the sports we are all so passionate about. In sectors such as retail fitness, we have seen that the most successful companies, not only have customer membership systems and databases for day-to-day functions, they also embrace it as their greatest and most important asset. The capacity to utilise information to make evidence-based decisions with the available insights is fundamental to their success. With limited capacity and resources within organisations, sport would also benefit from having these insights autonomously. If an NSO invested in a centralised resource integrated for use by state-based organisations, it removes the need for them to create their own versions across the country and miss out on significant communication, sponsorship and efficiency outcomes. The bigger the data lake, the greater the depth of insight that can be achieved, enabling the NSO a complete data overview. This enables baseline and improvement measurement against targeted outcomes. Better data enables more effective advocacy for government and other assistance, along with providing greater leverage with sponsors and commercial partners. It also delivers a larger communication platform, through the media generating opportunity for greater revenue and reduced costs. There is further potential for a single ‘Technological Backbone’ enabling data from all sports to be brought together into an aligned platform. The technical backbone could agitate all data into the backbone of the digital platform into a credible, easy to use and pertinent management information to guide decision making. The significant challenge for any organisation is to truly understand who their customers are, their needs and expectations. Without this we cannot correctly mould the product to suit them. In most businesses, this is difficult, but more so for sport:

•In addition to ‘known’ customers (such as registered participants, members, stakeholders and sponsors) there are many more unknown customers, who participate without the organisation knowing anything about them, as there are no identified contact or transactions with them; •The different sport governance models impact on the touch points for customers and the information that needs to be held; •Lack of central repository for the customer experience - so they may have several different experiences depending on what part of the organisation they connect with; and •NSOs, SSAs and local sport associations may all have different databases, complicating communications with mixed messages to your customer base. This normally means that there are missing ‘Customer Centric’ strategies that could bring success to the sport. Sport some may say is ‘dragging the chain’ when it comes to embracing technology to address this issue. Creating and maintaining fulfilling, personally relevant customer experience for the entire customer lifecycle needs to be addressed as part of improvements in the way that sport does business. The embrace of technology allows the organisation to continuously monitor strategies, initiatives and tactics in real time allowing them to be agile and pivot as they learn. Once the vision for the business transformation is agreed with all internal stakeholders then the technology should be explored to support or even fast track to a more customercentric focus. The results can be significant. If there is a customer-centric focus for the business, then the technology needs to ensure that there is a single database working as the backbone of the business in everything that the organisation does. The organisation then needs to work out how the whole of the business is going to interact with the database or CRM backbone. This should assist in the refocusing of the normal multitude of information, records, and data that sports organisations normally have which work in isolation or are disparate and often on different platforms with multiple databases. Whether the technology is externally focused (websites, ticketing, venue bookings, enrolments etc) or internally focused (finance, human resources, athlete databases, Microsoft office etc.) they often don’t interact. The result is often duplicated records, wasted time and lost opportunities that could have a large, long-term effect. There needs to be considered thought on a platform that brings all of the internal systems and externally focused interactions with the community, customers and stakeholders together, in a manner that actually assists the organisation run their business better. This thought process is normally referred to as Business Transformation and when technology is embraced to underpin this business realignment - Digital Transformation.

Merredin Regional Community And Leisure Centre netball

42 Australasian Leisure Management Issue 142

Conference calls became common business practice through 2020.

Digital technology is unlocking unprecedented opportunities for growth in many areas. It will continue to transform businesses across all sectors, creating enhanced experiences for consumers of sport. The last five years has seen digital platforms creep into sport at the commercial level. They are now starting to cascade down to all of sport. This offers opportunities for sport to focus and engage with their stakeholders, members, participants and fans in a manner that draws them closer through innovative and customised experiences. In turn, this creates sustainable growth and success both on and off the field. Any organisational transformation needs to be embraced rationally and resourced adequately within a whole of organisation strategy. Both external and internal factors and constraints must be considered. To succeed, a digital transformation strategy will: •Align Organisational Outcomes to Digital Transformational Solutions: It is critical to ensure that the required strategic outcomes are identified (such as increase participation, drive fan engagement, unlock future revenue streams, engage and enhance sponsor outcomes) to ensure that any technology solution is appropriate, structured and aligned to reach every part of the business to achieve the desired outcomes. •Transformation grand plan: Scope where the core technical backbone of the digital solution fits into the core business of the organisation. Then identify and plan how other component solutions for service delivery business practices integrate into the structure of the technology. The organisation will avoid going down ‘digital dead ends’ by ensuring solutions sit within a broadly supported ecosystem that ensures ongoing system support and integration with future technological advances. •Engage, Support and Transform How People Work: Identify the benefits and expected outcomes for each area of the business and detail how the steps to transformation will be achieved. It will consider the initial friction of transition and how to engage, train and support people through this now and into the future. •Realign Business Processes and Systems for the Future: Explore existing processes and realign them to unlock strategic outcomes, efficiencies and value enabled by digital capabilities. Case studies can be a powerful tool to understand the breadth of what is achievable. •Embrace Digital Technology Intelligently: Understand that the generational opportunity to embrace fast-growing areas such as Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence to deliver insights. These solutions are real, very costeffective and available (and being used) right now. Today’s technology enables operational efficiencies, freeing people to focus externally, engaging more closely with stakeholders, participants and fans. Martin Sheppard is Managing Director of the Smart Connection Consultancy and co-founder of the National Sports Convention. 44 Australasian Leisure Management Issue 142

Business Transformation for sport integrated approach would align all technologies into a customer focused platform with examples of Apps and stand-alone systems. The scope of the transformation should include an integrated platform that addresses all of these aspects and examples of current Apps or systems may include: 1. People and Volunteers - managing the people side of the business, both internally and for activities, programs, events and facilities being managed. • Staff management (Employment Hero, payroll linkage etc.) • Recruitment (SportsPeople, CV Check, My recruitment) • Volunteer management • Staff /event rostering (Rosterfy) • Child safety • Staff records/training compliance 2. Organisational Operations - integrated efficient processes and systems streamlining the way the organisation administers its business. • Administration (Microsoft Office and Adobe Suite, Goto meetings, cloud storage, etc.) • Comms (Skype, TEAMS, Zoom etc.) • Finance (Xero/MYOB, payroll, financial reporting, and budget management) • Quality and operational systems (TidyHQ, Sports Communities etc.) 3. Services and Product Offerings - what is provided to the organisation’s members, customers and broader community. • Event management (bookings - people, organisations and venues) • Program management (activities, registrations and bookings, event planning) • Facility / Venue bookings (scheduling, bookings, ticketing, hiring’s, parking) • Comms (Comms tools and platforms, Zoom, TEAMS, Skype) • Membership management • Retail opportunities (catering, events, On-line shop offering products, memorabilia, uniforms) • Hospitality services (events, bookings, food and beverage, coteries, corporate events) • Payment options 4. Customer and Market Focus - building the community, ensuring that they are looked after to maximise retention and create opportunities to enhance their experience and create additional revenue streams. • Membership management (members database, CRM functionality) • Marketing, comms and sales programs • Stakeholder management • Participation management and registration • Corporate and sponsors development and management maximisation • ROI reporting and management • Upselling capability • Key membership and customer portals 5. Customer Centric Data and Information Management the backbone of the organisaiton that aggregates data from all Apps, platforms and technology solutions to provide a central pivotal data-lake to analyse and provide relevant information. • Alignment with customers, users and stakeholder’s data • Collection of data from third party sources and aligned for organisation • Allows centralisation of customer data in a manner that provides integrated management information for decision making Innovation, Leadership and Business Results - bringing together the insights needed to show true leadership based on data insights, will drive innovation and business success. It would be expected that this is shown digitally through an integrated Dashboard that provides the organisation with the strategic and operational knowledge to grow and be successful.


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Building a healthier Australia through play

Bibra Lake Regional Playground.

Play Australia’s new five-year game plan sets out its aim to see a connected and healthy Australia where play is a part of everyone’s daily life. Kieran Brophy explains


s we move toward life post-COVID19, Play Australia has set out its vision that it is committed to realising as the organisation launches a bold new five-year game plan to build play in Australia. In Australia, the health and wellbeing of our children and young people is at crisis point. When we consider that only one in three Australian children engage in free play outdoors daily and the overall health of Australians is at all time low levels, it is of great concern. Play is fundamental in building physical activity habits in

Play Australia acknowledges the contribution of its volunteer Board in supporting the development of this strategy and the ongoing support its receives from its voluntary State Branches and Members from across Australia.

46 Australasian Leisure Management Issue 142

our children and young people, which in turn increases the likelihood of them being active throughout their adult lives. If we consider the ever-increasing federal government focus on building a more active nation, starting with our children and young people; unstructured play is the ultimate early intervention to build Australia’s declining physical literacy– particularly through outdoor play. Research shows that there is a clear correlation between the time children spend outside and their levels of physical activity demonstrating that the more time children have to engage in unstructured outdoor play, the more physically active they will be. We also recognise that children should experience twice as much unstructured time as structured play experiences to support their healthy development. Play supports children to explore their own physicality, their relationships to others and helps them learn about the world around them; providing an essential opportunity to explore risk in the outdoors … to climb trees, jump from heights, roll down grassy hills, and enjoy rough and tumble play, to name just a few activities.

“We want to see a connected and healthy Australia where play is a part of everyone’s daily life.” Play Australia


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Interestingly, those children who do not develop their propensity towards risk during outdoor play may have a greater inclination to disengage with physical activity (including sport and recreation) later in life. Play must not be dismissed as being frivolous. Rather, it is essential for the health of children and the long-term health of communities. It is probably no surprise to hear that I am engrossed in play at all times of the day, whether it be advocating for play in my time working or being involved in play during family life. “Can you play with me?” is always the question of the day. And sometimes I say “no” citing to my wife that it’s important for our children to be bored so they can explore their creativity. However, most of the time I do say “yes” because I love it. I feel closer to my children because we play together. When I think about my wishes for their future, I find myself reflecting on my own childhood play, and wondering if they will have similar experiences of their own, in the coming years. •Playing spotlight in the long grass at night •Building forts on different sides of the backyard with my brother and spending afternoons just throwing stuff at each other •Exploring the tunnels through all the blackberry bushes around our neighbourhood •Climbing trees, picking plums and throwing them at my brother and sister …there’s a theme here. These are some of the experiences that shaped my childhood Aquatic play at the Armadale Fitness and Aquatic Centre.

48 Australasian Leisure Management Issue 142

“Unstructured play is the ultimate early intervention to build Australia’s declining physical literacy.” Play Australia and they are intensely personal memories. Having grown up in the 1980s, I now feel quite lucky that I did, as I recognise it afforded me a level of freedom to roam my neighbourhood that the majority of today’s children do not have. During grade three or four, I began riding my BMX to primary school and had the freedom to go wherever I pleased, as long as I was home by dark or gave mum a call if my plans changed. On reflection, this meant my parents gave me permission, time and space to play outside every day. Having had roughly a five kilometre² roaming range at this time, which would be a much smaller roaming range than my own parent’s baby boomer generation - it was significant enough to provide me with a huge feeling of independence; it allowed me to connect with neighbours and other community members in my own way, and it always gave me opportunities to play. This kind of experience, I imagine, was likely shared with many readers. Fast forward to now, and roaming ranges have shrunk to ‘next to nothing’ for a number of reasons – including, but not limited to: a lack of time to roam because children are overscheduled; parental fears regarding the threats posed by traffic, stranger danger, and/or parental concerns over how they will be perceived and judged by others in the community, if they let their children roam. So, how can we create a brighter play future for the ‘trapped’ children of today? Play Australia’s five-year strategy positions play as a national health priority and calls for all Australians to value and support play, particularly for our children and young people. As a growing national organisation which represents play throughout Australia, we are proud to embrace a strong advocacy role within our broad remit of work. Our key advocacy initiatives include our Play Today campaign, our 1000 Play Streets movement, and Playground Finder. The Play Today campaign is designed to get more Australian children playing outside every day, our 1000 Play Streets

movement calls on Australians to reclaim their streets as places to play and connect while our Playground Finder platform enables families to connect with playgrounds throughout Australia. All these initiatives promote the importance of children’s outside play and to explore how we all better work together to: •Afford permission, time and space for children and young people to play freely outside every day; •Foster stronger connections with neighbours to build more social play opportunities and increase perceptions of neighbourhood safety and feelings of belonging; •Give our children and young people more freedom to explore roaming ranges – from backyards, to streets, to parks – encouraging curiosity and placing trust in them as they explore the world around them; •Support environments for play throughout our communities; •Challenge policy and legislation that fails to prioritise the health of communities; and •Ultimately enhance the health and wellbeing of all Australians. Play Australia is committed to driving the play agenda at all levels - global to community - embracing a systems approach that values collaborative partnerships, healthy environments, healthy policy, with a focus on supporting unstructured childled play opportunities - particularly for those members in our communities who need more support to play. Our Play focus is on child-led play that is either supervised or

unsupervised by parents/caregivers. This means we promote the value of independent play that sees children (when they are ready) playing unsupervised by adults and having the opportunity to roam freely beyond their home safety net. This kind of play is important because it builds more confident, independent, and ultimately more resilient children and young people, which again, means better health and wellbeing outcomes for communities. In addition to the initiatives outlined, Play Australia will continue to celebrate and foster all the things we love about our organisation over the coming years, such as our enduring connections to the people and groups who have helped our wide-reaching work to date. We have a unique and long-standing connection to play space designers, developers and managers in our communities Australia-wide and through our training and advisory support we will continue to promote and support the quality design of playgrounds, to ensure all Australians can access quality places to play. We’re also keen to team up with our extensive play networks and engage with Australian young people who have a lack of public space available for their play, to test co-design approaches alongside local government to create more opportunities for young people to connect and play, in their own way. We have an exciting five years ahead as we launch our bold new game plan to build PLAY in Australia, and we ask that you not only read it, but join us in our mission to promote the value of play and support all Australians to play every day, so we can all create a brighter play future for our children and communities. Kieran Brophy is Assistant Director of Play Australia and a proud, sometimes exhausted, father of three children, all under five years.

SURF’S UP with the Beach Themed Waterpark at Shelly Beach Holiday Park (NSW)

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02 9725 5604 E: Australasian Leisure Management Issue 142 49

The design of the new Mona Vale Surf Club on Sydney’s Northern Beaches.

Regenerative-led design driving sustainability Warren and Mahoney’s Sarah Campbell advises how the practice incorporates leading-edge sustainability practices in its designs


ever before have we yearned so greatly for the outdoors an environment we are truly starting to understand needs our protection in order to sustain our needs. This signals an enormous opportunity for recreational design to become the gateway to both nature and vibrant community connection. As the design lead of some of Australasia’s most impressive new sports and recreation facilities, architecture firm Warren and Mahoney provides a playbook of lessons on how to maximise the benefits of exercise while anticipating future needs and future-proofing the environment through world-class sustainability practices. In the last issue of Australasian Leisure Management we highlighted our work at the recently completed La Trobe Sports Stadium, with its 6 Star Green Star rating - the highest Green Star rating bearing a competency level of ‘World Standard’. The team has also led the design of the Mona Vale Surf Life Saving Club on Sydney’s Northern Beaches, with work set to begin on the clubhouse as summer fades. A similar timeframe is expected for Melbourne’s Northcote Aquatic and Recreation Centre - also striving for 6 Stars. The design for the Northcote Aquatic and Recreation Centre in suburban Melbourne.

50 Australasian Leisure Management Issue 142

Each of these impressive new places boasts market-leading sustainability credentials - comprehensive environmental considerations and community-centric spaces to maximise use and commercial opportunities. Warren and Mahoney Principal Architect, Daryl Maguire explains “as designers of the built environment, we are acutely aware of both the opportunities and the responsibilities inherent in our work. As people, we know our ability to enjoy life is symbiotic with a harmonious environment. “During the last decade, the practice has reduced the carbon intensity of its operations by more than 40%, and is on track to meet its long-term sustainability goals. And our 2030 Vision is centred around a mindset of ‘climate regenerative design’. “As a business with an acute understanding that any project we embark on has some impact - we have an obligation to mitigate this is by operating with lower emissions, support a sustainable supply chain and enable our communities to live less carbon intensive lives. “In 10 years - in line with client ambitions and that of the World Green Building Council - all new projects designed by Warren and Mahoney will be carbon neutral in operation, be 50% more energy efficient and have 40% less embodied carbon.” Noting that the practice offsets unavoidable emissions, like travel, through regenerating native forests and by supporting developing countries to reduce their fossil fuel use, Maguire states “we stand proudly as part of the Climate Leaders Coalition of New Zealand and as signatories of the Architects Declare Climate Emergency in both New Zealand and Australia. But we know it is important to make more than just statements and to also make actions with outcomes that can be proven by facts and data. “We support the development of sustainable design in line with the World Green Building Council’s Advancing Net Zero targets and the Bringing Embodied Carbon Upfront initiative. Warren and Mahoney also actively endorses the GBCA’s



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The La Trobe Sports Stadium.

Another view of the new Mona Vale Surf Club on Sydney’s Northern Beaches.

Carbon Positive Roadmap for Australia’s buildings and has been part of the GBCA’s Greenstar for new Buildings pilot study. Achieving sustainable design, however, is more than just reducing carbon emissions. And Warren and Mahoney has a proprietary set of ten sustainable design principles which allows it to set holistic, wide-reaching environmental goals for all of their projects. In line with these intentions is a suite of projects boasting best-in-class sustainability practices.

Mona Vale Surf Lifesaving Club Sydney’s Northern Beaches is an area with a distinct local identity, deeply tied to its physical surroundings. Surf lifesaving clubs play a central role in community life, acting as social gathering places as well as beach rescue and safety education facilities. In designing a new facility for the Mona Vale Surf Life Saving Club, Warren and Mahoney knew that community buy-in and ownership of the project would be vital. The new building needed to meet all the practical requirements, be a focus for community pride and be flexible for a wide range of uses now and into the future. The design proposal was unified around the idea of connection, both social and physical, with a building designed to draw people in, and to feel inclusive and accessible to a broad cross-section of locals. Facilities are family-friendly, with spaces and amenities to cater to all generations of lifesavers, from nippers in training to retirees. Particular consideration was given to welcoming migrant communities, who are a principal target for water safety campaigns. The building is open and active on all sides, with a cafe at ground level and sightlines through to the water, linking park and beach. Materials including timber and textured raw concrete were chosen to reflect the natural environment and withstand exposure to the elements. Elevated glass pavilions house a restaurant, lounge bar and function room, angled to capture the spectacular views and outstanding natural beauty of beach, and the environment’s headlands and park. To ensure that the needs of users were kept front and centre, the firm held public consultation meetings with the Council, and engaged closely with a community working group throughout. Project Principal, Sven Ollmann advises “we undertook a detailed use analysis of the inner workings of the club to optimise operational efficiencies. “Our design found many ways to increase the value of the building and maximise revenue opportunities. The functional space was doubled almost within the footprint of the previous structure. “We established an ROI value case for new revenue streams, including cafe and restaurant tenancies and flexible function spaces for private hire and sustainable design elements serve to minimise water and energy use and long-term maintenance requirements.” This beautiful building has exceeded all stakeholder expectations in its scope to boost membership revenue, secure the club’s future and create an enduring legacy for the community.

La Trobe University Sports Park The $80 million La Trobe University Sports Park Stadium was designed with world-class environmental credentials at its core. Located in the Melbourne suburb of Bundoora and the first purpose-built facility of its kind in Australia Sports Park has been modelled on the USA’s ‘Community University’ style campus, it combines new tertiary sporting facilities, dedicated teaching spaces and a laboratory for world-leading sports education testing and analytics alongside community sport infrastructure and tenancies. The Sports Park has a major focus on environmental sustainability, with the Stadium achieving a 6 Star Green Star ‘Design’ and ‘As Built’ rating from the Australian Green Building Council. This was achieved through an integrated strategy covering building material performance, natural ventilation, sustainable energy generation, water storage and reuse, and building management and operational strategies. The stadium, much like the wider Sports Park project, also had a major focus on environmental sustainability, with the stadium itself achieving a 6 Star Green Star rating. A large component of this Green Star rating is made up by the solar panel installation on the court hall roof, featuring around 4,000metre2 of solar panels which generates around 500kw of power, or enough to power around 150 households. The solar installation informs part of La Trobe’s overarching sustainability goal to achieve a net carbon-zero emissions by 2029, which is a goal they are well on their way to achieving. The other components that make up the stadium’s Green Star rating include the court hall louvre control ventilation system, end-of-trip bike facilities, the recycled water systems and LED lighting. Aquatic play feaures at the Northcote Aquatic and Recreation Centre .

Northcote Aquatic and Recreational Centre (NARC) An important focus of NARC’s new design has been about keeping the historic and much-loved features of the centre while also responding to clear calls from the City of Darebin (Victoria) to improve the sustainability credentials of the centre. Darebin Council was the first Local Government Authority to 52 Australasian Leisure Management Issue 142

Enhance ůŝĨĞŐƵĂƌĚ ŽďƐĞƌǀĂƟŽŶ on the beachfront or poolside Outdoor poool at the Northcote Aquatic and Recreation Centre .

declare a state of climate emergency - and the NARC had to tie seamlessly into that strategy. This included extensive preproject planning led by Otium Planning Group. Lead Architect and Associate Principal, Brett Diprose, says the new design meets the concerns of the City of Darebin and the practice has both welcomed and respected the application of an unprecedented amount of rigour to the sustainability assessment. “The 6-Star Green Star aquatic centre will be the first of its kind in Australia to run completely on electricity, reducing the need for connection to non-renewable gas. “A large solar panel on the roof will also play a part in powering the heating of the outdoor 50 metre pool, indoor 25 metre pool, warm water pool, the program pool and the leisure water areas.” Diprose says materials and systems have been selected to minimise the carbon footprint during construction and reduce energy usage during operation - including the reuse, recycling and repurposing of the demolished elements of the existing facility. “The timber structure provides sustainability benefits, as well as low maintenance and a warm, welcoming aesthetic. “We have taken a more sustainable long-term approach that reduces demand on Council funds to effectively subsidise the facility by using photovoltaics, energy reduction strategies around pool and air heating and operational costs. “We also undertook extensive life cycle analyses and daylight assessments, including testing and reducing glare and testing insulation measures to ensure the building works as efficiently as possible. “In the future we’ll continue to work closely with Otium Planning Group to ensure our design is adaptable, meets the widest range of needs and can continue be of use - and a place to connect - for the community.” Sarah Campbell is Associate - Marketing Specialist at Warren and Mahoney. Warren and Mahoney is an international practice of designers and architects which solves complex challenges to create enduring legacies for its clients. With a 65-year history and a 300-strong team, Warren and Mahoney is an international practice of designers and architects that works as one connected studio across its seven Australasian locations.

The Lifeguard Pod from Surveyor Lifeguard Towers is now available in Australia hŶůŝŬĞ ƚŚĞ ƚƌĂĚŝƟŽŶĂů ĮdžĞĚ ŽďƐĞƌǀĂƟŽŶ ƚŽǁĞƌƐ͕ ƚŚĞ >ŝĨĞŐƵĂƌĚ WŽĚ ŝƐ ĨƵůůLJ ƉŽƌƚĂďůĞ ĂŶĚ ĐĂŶ ďĞ ƉůĂĐĞĚ ǁŚĞƌĞǀĞƌ it is needed on the beachfront or poolside. • WŽƐŝƟŽŶ ŽŶͲĚƵƚLJ ůŝĨĞŐƵĂƌĚƐ ĂŶLJǁŚĞƌĞ ŽŶ ƚŚĞ ďĞĂĐŚ ǁŝƚŚ Ă Ϯ͘ϰ ŵĞƚƌĞ ĞůĞǀĂƟŽŶ͘ • ^ŚĞůƚĞƌƐ ůŝĨĞŐƵĂƌĚƐ ĨƌŽŵ ƚŚĞ ƐƵŶ͘ • WƌŽǀŝĚĞƐ ƐƚŽƌĂŐĞ ĨŽƌ ƉĞƌƐŽŶĂů ŝƚĞŵƐ ĂŶĚ ďĂƐŝĐ ƌĞƐĐƵĞ ĞƋƵŝƉŵĞŶƚ͘ dŚĞ ĞƌŐŽŶŽŵŝĐĂůůLJ ĚĞƐŝŐŶĞĚ ƐĞĂƟŶŐ ƉŽƐŝƟŽŶ ĂŶĚ ĐĂďŝŶ ŵŝŶŝŵŝƐĞƐ ďĂĐŬ ƐƚƌĂŝŶ͘ • DĞĞƚƐ ŶĞǁ ƌĞĐŽŵŵĞŶĚĂƟŽŶƐ ŚĂŶĚĞĚ ĚŽǁŶ ďLJ ƚŚĞ E^t ŽƌŽŶĞƌ ĨŽůůŽǁŝŶŐ ƚŚĞ ŝŶƋƵĞƐƚ ŝŶƚŽ Ă ĚƌŽǁŶŝŶŐ Ăƚ WŽƌƚ DĂĐƋƵĂƌŝĞ͛Ɛ &ůLJŶŶ ĞĂĐŚ ŝŶ ĞĐĞŵďĞƌ ϮϬϭϳ͘ • ůŝŐŝďůĞ ĨŽƌ ĨƵŶĚŝŶŐ ƵŶĚĞƌ ƚŚĞ E^t ĞƉĂƌƚŵĞŶƚ ŽĨ WƌŝŵĂƌLJ /ŶĚƵƐƚƌŝĞƐ KďƐĞƌǀĂƟŽŶ 'ƌĂŶƚ͘ dŚĞ >ŝĨĞŐƵĂƌĚ WŽĚ ŝƐ Ă ƌŽďƵƐƚ ŵŽǀĞĂďůĞ ƵŶŝƚ ǁŚŝĐŚ ŚĂƐ Ă ŵŝŶŝŵĂů ǀŝƐƵĂů ŝŵƉĂĐƚ ĂŶĚ ĐĂŶ ďĞ ĞĂƐŝůLJ ƚŽǁĞĚ ŝŶƚŽ ƉŽƐŝƟŽŶ ďLJ Ă ϰt Žƌ ds͘ DĂĚĞ ĨƌŽŵ ŵŽƵůĚĞĚ ĮďĞƌŐůĂƐƐ͕ ƚŚĞ ƵŶŝƋƵĞ ĐĂďŝŶ ƌĞƋƵŝƌĞƐ ůŝƩůĞ ŵĂŝŶƚĞŶĂŶĐĞ ŽƚŚĞƌ ƚŚĂŶ Ă ŚŽƐĞ ĚŽǁŶ ĂŌĞƌ ĞǀĞƌLJ ƐŚŝŌ ĂŶĚ ĂŶ Žŝů ƌƵď ŽĨ ƚŚĞ ƐƚĂŝŶůĞƐƐ steel legs to prevent tea staining.

Green Star Green Star is an internationally recognised sustainability rating system, which was established in 2003. With the built environment currently the world’s single largest contributor to greenhouse gas emissions, consuming around a third of the water supply and generating 40% of our waste, its designed, primarily, to promote environmental efficiencies - while also boosting productivity and improving the health and wellbeing of communities across the globe.

&Žƌ ĨƵƌƚŚĞƌ ŝŶĨŽƌŵĂƟŽŶ ĐŽŶƚĂĐƚ <ĞŶ ,ŽůůŽǁĂLJ on 0422 889 813, ͗ ŝŶĨŽΛůŝĨĞŐƵĂƌĚƚŽǁĞƌƐ͘ĐŽŵ͘ĂƵ͕ ǁǁǁ͘ůŝĨĞŐƵĂƌĚƚŽǁĞƌƐ͘ĐŽŵ͘ĂƵ Australasian Leisure Management Issue 142 53

The outdoor 50 metre pool at the Ashfield Aquatic Centre gets put to the test.

Oasis in Sydney’s Inner West

The new Ashfield Aquatic Centre is anticipating over 500,000 visits a year. Nigel Benton reports


t a time when the costs of building metropolitan aquatic facilities appears to be spiralling upwards, Sydney’s Inner West Council seems to have got pretty good value with its refurbishment of the Ashfield Aquatic Centre. At a cost of $44.7 million, the facility, replacing the Ashfield Olympic Pool which had pools dating back to the 1960s, is the third largest in Sydney (based on water area) and is both a community aquatic and wellness facility as well as acting as a hub for elite aquatic sport within Sydney’s inner west. Welcoming the new facility, Inner

West Mayor, Darcy Byrne states “the rebuilding of the old Ashfield Pool is the largest community infrastructure project in our history, and we have now delivered a multi-purpose aquatics and health and fitness facility that our community will enjoy for generations to come.” Designed by Brewster Hjorth architects and built by FDC Construction, the redeveloped facility, which is expected to attract over 500,000 visitors a year, includes a Technogym-equipped health and fitness centre with an extensive range of free weights, machines and programmable spaces; a café; creche;

54 Australasian Leisure Management Issue 142

community meeting room facilities and a spa, sauna and steam room. Among its five aquatic areas, outdoor there is the refurbished 50 metre pool with accessible ramp, enlarged to 10 lanes with an adjustable split boom from S.R.Smith enabling it to be divided for different programs. The outdoor area also features a large constant depth childrens’ recreation/play pool and a new outdoor program pool built as an international standard water polo venue. Mayor Byrne, recognises the importance of the facility for elite sport, noting


The new indoor program pool at the Ashfield Aquatic Centre.

“Ashfield’s swim and water polo clubs have a long history at this site and the new aquatic centre has secured their future use of the pool for training and competitions for years to come.” The program pool features the Australian-first installation of an Akvo Spiralift floating floor from S.R.Smith which, with the floor able to be raised and lowered on demand, can accommodate swimming lessons, aquafitness classes, zero-depth activities along with water polo games. Outdoor there is also a shaded grandstand for swim carnivals, a family area, green space and marshalling area. Indoor aquatic space includes a further 25 metre program pool which doubles as a hydrotherapy treatment pool and which links with the spa, sauna and steam room to provide a warm water environment for rehabilitation purposes or for just general relaxation and wellness. Services offered include group fitness classes, mind and body classes, personal training, learn to swim, squads and programs to cater for all ages and fitness levels.

Project History The project was conceived by the former Ashfield Council, which, as far back as 2007 deemed that the facility was at the end of its technical life and required major repairs or replacement, concluding that there would need to be significant funding allocated to keep the facilities at an appropriate usable standard and to meet the NSW Department of Health Guidelines for Public Swimming Pools. Shortly before its May 2016 merger with the Leichhardt and Marrickville councils to become the Inner West Council, Ashfield Council agreed the redevelopment of the facility with a $14 million budget. Once amalgamated, the cost of the redevelopment rose to $23.5 million in 2017 before reaching its final price tag as a result of the project being expanded with features including the gym and sauna. In addition to the changes in the scope of work, a number of investigations had to take place to further understand the project requirements including an understanding of existing site conditions such as hazardous materials,

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Australasian Leisure Management Issue 142 55

geotechnical depth of piling and other geotechnical issues. Explaining the expansion of the project’s scope, Mayor Byrne advised “the initial plans put forward to the community were quite limited and did not include a new health and fitness centre, or a movable floor for the new outdoor pool so it can change its depth, opening it up for a wide range of uses including water polo. “Rather than funnelling funds into a short-term strategy to patch up the dilapidated centre which was literally at the end of its lifespan, council listened to the community and determined to future-proof the centre for future generations.” Mayor Byrne sees the result as a significant infrastructure project, commenting “Council was determined to get this once in a lifetime opportunity right - to transform Ashfield Pool into a first class facility for the whole community to enjoy for generations to come.” On the expansion of the project’s initial scope, he went on to say “while the additions to the original concept have now obviously added to the construction costs - it means that the new facility meets a diverse range of community needs. “In the Inner West, we invest in public pools as a public health and wellbeing strategy.” With the merger of the Ashfield, Leichhardt and Marrickville councils bringing together six aquatic facilities (two managed by an external contractor), the opening of the Ashfield Aquatic Centre has allowed the Council to better integrate its aquatics programs and services across the facilities with membership options allowing for access to multiple sites. On site at the Ashfield Aquatic Centre the accessible entrance and customer service area, along with its retail space, is controlled by Dorma Kaba’s new Argus 40 barriers and integrated with Links Modular Solutions software. Commenting on what the new facility will deliver, Simon Duck, the Council’s Senior Manager for Sport and Recreation, explained “aquatic centres hold iconic places in Australian society. “Not just for participation in recreation and fun but for socialisation with peers, family socialisation and inter-generational activities. “They’re incredible hubs of community attendance with programs for all age ranges (such as) learn-to-swim and fitness programs plus squads, personal training and exercise physiology.” Nigel Benton is Publisher of Australasian Leisure Management. 56 Australasian Leisure Management Issue 142

Restoration work in progress at the Dawn Fraser Baths.

Dawn Fraser Baths The Council’s commitment to its aquatic spaces is also seeing it approaching completion of a $9 million heritage restoration of Dawn Fraser Baths on Sydney Harbour in Balmain, the last enclosed harbour baths in Australia. Presented with advice that tidal saltwater pool was likely to become unsafe for public use without restoration the soon-to-be-completed work has focussed on the ageing infrastructure surrounding the pool, including creating easier access, more change rooms, lighting and raising the boardwalk to sea level.



TOLL FREE 1300 885 666 The Australasian Council for the Teaching of Swimming and Water Safety.

Maintenance at Castlecove Golf and Country Club.

Golf Course Solutions Greg Campbell explains the benefits golf clubs can achieve in outsourcing course maintenance


olf club members are a pedantic lot when it comes to the condition of their home course. Throughout the year, they see the perfectly manicured rolling fairways, unblemished greens and garden-lined tee boxes when watching the best men and women contest the major golf tours across the world on TV. There is a high degree of envy with how the pro players smash the ball 300-odd metres down the fairway and sink long putts on deceptive, undulating greens, and they covet the

Greens cutting at Melbourne’s Yarrambat Park Golf Course.

58 Australasian Leisure Management Issue 142

opportunity to play at magnificent courses such as Augusta National and St Andrews where their natural beauty makes any round a pleasure - regardless of their score. So, when it comes to their own course, they are often highly critical when fairways and greens resemble a rough moonscape when divots are either not replaced or repaired, when greens are patchy and two-paced, or when bunkers are hard and lack adequate sand. The course superintendent, greens staff, club captain and Board members are often on the receiving end of the ire of members when course conditions fall below satisfactory levels. Throw in the huge recent increase in popularity golf has received during the COVID-19 pandemic since March, and many clubs are struggling to maintain the condition of their course because grounds maintenance staff are lacking resources, personnel, knowledge and expertise plus adequate budget to keep the membership happy. For public golf clubs, who rely on regular rounds from social clubs and social players in addition to membership fees, they are dependent upon this much needed income. If members/players find a course in poor condition, then they are likely to walk away and find an alternative venue. Enter leading privately-owned Australian company, Landscape Solutions, who believes there is a new future in golf course management - outsourcing all golf course maintenance. The General Manager of its Golf Course Solutions division is the highly credentialled Peter Schumacher who has seen it all when it comes to golf course management. He is the former Superintendent at the exclusive Elanora Country Club, on Sydney’s northern beaches, and was the former General Manager at nearby Monash Golf Club and Pennant Hills Golf Club in Sydney’s north west. He explains “generally, golf clubs operate on a very traditional basis. Course superintendents are often long-term employees and club Boards are usually quite conservative. “So, when you discuss outsourcing the course maintenance, the first reaction is negative because there is a high degree of comfort in doing things the way they traditionally have been done. “But when you explain the wide-ranging and highly flexible benefits our out-sourced solution provide, they are more receptive and willing to consider change. At the end of the day, course maintenance is the highest cost associated with golf clubs, and budgets are always under pressure,” he added. “We believe outsourcing course maintenance is not only economically smart, but more efficient and effective.” Golf Course Solutions is a new division of Landscape Solutions whose primary business delivers comprehensive landscape services ranging from complex works such as civil and irrigation construction, through to landscape and sports fields maintenance. The business commenced in 1993 when current owner, Tim Buckle, founded the business with little more than a ute, a shovel and a healthy desire to work hard and deliver results for his clients. Now 27 years later, the business has offices in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Auckland and employs upwards of 600 full-time staff, plus subcontractors and casual workers. In recent months, the company completed the $12 million state-of-the-art training facility for A-League football club, Western Sydney Wanderers in Blacktown, and the $18.7 million landscaping project at the luxurious beachfront 5-Star Jewel Apartments on Queensland’s Gold Coast. Buckle and his General Manager of Maintenance, Hamish Inglis, saw the opportunity in golf course maintenance and the company now manages seven golf courses in Sydney

Golf Course Solutions’ Peter Schumacher (below left) and greens renovation (above).

and Melbourne including maintaining the high traffic Moore Park Golf Course on the fringe of the Sydney CBD, plus the Belgravia Leisure managed Yarrambat Park Golf Course, north of Melbourne. Inglis advises “when we initially researched golf course maintenance across the country, we found there were significant inefficiencies given the high costs associated with machinery, materials, labour and administration. “For example, there is expensive machinery such as green corers and turf aerators which are only used seasonally and often sit idle in the works shed for around 45 weeks of the year. And these machines, along with all other machinery, required ongoing maintenance which drag course staff away from their primary responsibility of preparing and maintaining the course. “We believed there was a better, more efficient way to deliver high quality course maintenance services to golf clubs across the country. “Our outsourced maintenance model sees us as a key partner where we have full responsibility for all grounds staff including wages, superannuation, workers’ compensation, insurances, training and annual leave. “We are passionate about our work, and our philosophy and core values are based on an unrelenting focus on the customer. We aim to go above and beyond expectations when we undertake our work. “Once we come on board, a club can focus on the main income generating aspects of their club such as membership, events, bar and dining services rather than the major income expenditure area which is the course itself.� Under Golf Course Solutions outsourced model, Schumacher said the company is fully accountable for all agreed course maintenance and presentation programs and works at a pace which aligns with club budgets. He notes “we work closely with the clubs to develop an annual works program that reflects their desired outcomes whether they are financial, related to turf quality or course enhancements to

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areas such as greens, tees, fairways and hard infrastructure.� Schumacher said one key benefit of outsourcing with Golf Course Solutions is its buying power and the availability of a diverse range of machinery which most clubs cannot afford to purchase, going on to explain “because we are a large scale business, we can purchase materials at prices better than what individual clubs can secure. This can either improve a club’s bottom line, or the club can use these savings and allow it to invest in other course materials or projects. “Additionally, if a green or fairway mower breaks down and requires repairs, we can immediately call in a replacement mower to ensure the quality of the playing surfaces are not compromised. “When equipment breaks down, this can severely impact a club’s budget, particularly if a piece of machinery, such as a $35,000 ride-on fairway mower, requires replacing. But these costs are solely borne by us, and not the club, so their cashflow and budgets are unaffected.� Schumacher said the company’s vast range of experts can assist clubs with major course upgrades such as irrigation, drainage, course watering, cart paths, re-bunkering and other landscaping and garden works, adding “we have the staff and the experts to immediately undertake major course improvements under a payment plan without clubs needing to use precious capital funds.� Michael McKay, Belgravia Leisure’s Area Manager Golf Victoria, said Landscape Solutions have continued to exceed expectations at Yarrambat Park and Spring Park Golf Courses, commenting “the culture of the team recruited, their inclusive personalities and consistent working behaviours, has lifted the quality of the courses immensely in a very short period of time. “Landscape Solutions deliver a ‘manage up’ service to all clients. Whether it’s the weekly push reports or fortnightly flash meetings, we’re always made to feel like our asset will be presented in the best possible condition for the community.� Stating that golf is a sport which has always embraced change and technology advancements, and outsourcing golf course maintenance to a team of experts requires a leap of faith which can help launch the game to new levels of enjoyment for members and recreational players, Schumacher concludes “golf club and golf ball manufacturers spend millions in research and development to produce clubs and balls which give players a decisive edge. They also invest heavily in additional products such as teaching and practice aids, plus player accessories like electric buggies and GPS rangefinders to allow players to further enjoy their golfing experience. “However, the one basic requirement for all players is to play on a top quality course, and we fervently believe that our outsourcing model provides golf clubs with the people, knowledge, skills, equipment and expertise to deliver the playing experience players seek when on the first tee.� Greg Campbell is Managing Director of strategic communication company Prism.



Australasian Leisure Management Issue 142 59

COVIDSafe measures at Melbourne’s LEGOLAND Discovery Centre.

A time to build trust and loyalty Steve Brown explains re-imagining the guest journey in a post-COVID-19 world


ith the COVID-19 pandemic having greatly impacted the global economy, people’s leisure time plans show considerable hesitancy in venturing back to places where crowds could cause health and safety concerns. In light of this, attractions around the world are adapting to the ‘new normal’, changing the way they operate and communicate with both the general public and their most loyal guests. As a result, it’s more imperative than ever for operators to adapt to the redefined needs and expectations of their guests, making public safety a top priority while maintaining a high regard for the guest experience.

Using accesso’s LoQueue Qsmart to reinforce social distancing.

60 Australasian Leisure Management Issue 142

From their first touch point with your brand to the moment they step off your property and begin their trip home, guests will expect a more in-depth level of interaction with operators that provide reassurance of their safety and satisfaction being a top priority. 1. Before Visiting an Attraction The Importance of Digital Presence and Guest Engagement Now more than ever, it’s essential that your venue’s online presence be user-friendly, easy to understand and ready to deliver on guest expectations. Communicating with guests prior to arrival, whether through your website or a mobile app, will help to build their confidence and set expectations for what to expect during their park visit. Over recent years we have seen that desktop experiences are no longer the primary area of focus for most online shoppers. More and more customers prefer to complete transactions on a mobile device; therefore, successful eCommerce ticketing strategies must prioritise optimisation for mobile users. Communicating Safety Measures With consumers’ top concern being venue cleanliness and sanitation, reminding your guests of the many ways you are working to keep them safe can make all the difference. Most guests - no matter how loyal - will be reluctant to return if operators don’t have effective and clearly communicated safety measures in place. From the guest perspective, communicating safety measures also prepares them for what to expect when they walk through your entrance. They’ll already know things like how you’ve

implemented social distancing, whether they’ll be required to wear a mask and if/how you will take their temperature upon entrance to the attraction. Sell Everything Online As guests may be hesitant about in-person box offices and the exchange of physical cash, it’s more important than ever for operators to optimise their eCommerce platform and encourage advance ticket sales and reservations by one-time guests and passholders alike. In addition to easing guest concerns, online ticketing alleviates the operator’s concern over managing box office queues and ensuring the safety of their frontline staff. Collecting Guest Information in Advance Depending on your locale, you may need to collect information from guests in order to comply with health regulations. Simplify the process by allowing your guests to complete paperwork, health checks and waivers before arrival. Make sure you’re using a digital waiver system so that guests do not have to fill out a physical form when they arrive. This will also give you an opportunity to capture key data about your guests, including emergency contact information, health stats and opt-ins for contact tracing. 2. The In-Park Experience In a world where social distancing has become the new normal, ensuring the safety of your guests and staff is vital. The following six steps can help you begin to construct your new operational plan. Sell Online Consumers are becoming more risk averse as we adapt our daily lives to the pandemic, and ticket purchase lines may soon become a relic of the past. It’s ethically responsible to help minimise the risk of standing in lines by offering your guests a contactless alternative to purchasing their ticket and preparing for their visit. With the pandemic resulting in massive growth in

P 1300 897 117 E

COVIDSafe measures at Wave Park reception, South Korea.

online shopping, it’s also just good business sense. Limit Capacity One of the many ways social distancing can be implemented is through limiting and managing capacity. Consider guidelines that are appropriate for the unique layout and operations of each park, and remember that physical distancing is not only about keeping guests safe, but also protecting employees. Operators must not only manage the number of people walking through the front gates, but also oversee the real-time flow of guests leaving the venue in order to accurately manage capacity. Utilising technology to solve these concerns can help you achieve attendance projections and revenue goals without overcrowding. Stagger Arrivals To comply with social distancing guidelines and avoid unnecessary crowds, operators may need to stagger guests’ arrival to the venue. This is most easily done by setting an arrival time for each guest as they purchase tickets online.

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Australasian Leisure Management Issue 142 61

COVIDSafe measures at Melbourne’s LEGOLAND Discovery Centre (left) and accesso’s Prism virtual queueing technology (above).

Leveraging ticketing technology that allows for time-specific pricing or ticket reservations will place you as the operator in the driver’s seat of attendance volume control. Eliminate Lines Once guests are inside the gates, queues take centre stage when it comes to physical distancing. Since all guests will likely be expected to stand apart for some time to come, continuing to operate queues as they were before COVID-19 will be all but impossible. Fortunately, solutions to address this challenge are readily available and, attractions operators can swiftly adopt virtual queueing technology to help prevent overcrowding of ride queues. From a guest experience standpoint, the use of virtual queueing allows guests to experience more of the park, exploring areas they may not have otherwise if they were waiting in line. This not only allows for a better guest experience, but also the potential for boosted revenue by way of increased retail and food and beverage sales. Go Contactless In a post-COVID-19 world, guests will be wary of high-touch surfaces and close face-to-face interaction with employees. Fingerprint scanners and other high-touch surfaces are likely to become a thing of the past. Instead, guests will expect contactless solutions that allow them to enter the park without the risk of surface contamination or unnecessary face-to-face interaction, and they will expect the same once inside a theme park, venue or attraction. accesso’s LoQueue Qsmart app.

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Offer Mobile F&B As guests continue to physically distance, they’ll be less likely to dine out and may carry heightened concerns over how food is handled. Outside of the tourism and travel industry, we’ve seen a sweeping move toward food delivery and curbside pickup. The same expectation will now apply to food and beverage service within theme parks, venues and attractions. Operators will be expected to provide services that allow guests to order food ahead, pick it up and benefit from contactless payment solutions. Utilising the right technology allows guests to experience all the F&B offerings an attraction has to offer, including preordering and all-in-one mobile wallet capabilities, all from the convenience of their smartphone. 3. Designing the Guest Experience Guest experience management technology can play a key role in ensuring a safe, fun environment for each guest within the park. Leveraging such technology allows operators to actively work to prevent large crowds, while also providing each guest the personalised experience they desire. Communicate Important Messages to Guests at Key Points through their Visit Automatically Send Notifications to Guests Upon Arrival •Alert guests who have failed to complete health questions: “Please make sure to complete our quick health questionnaire prior to entering the park.” •Provide real-time information alerts: “The front gate is experiencing higher traffic. Please wait in your car.” •Manage crowd dispersal (e.g. if everyone tends to turn right after entering the park, encourage some people to turn left): “Turn left after the front gate to explore Adventure Zone!” Guide Guests to Better, Safer Experiences •Provide guests with information about nearby health & safety features (hand sanitising stations, mask pickup locations, bathrooms, phone charging stations, etc.) via their park map. •Help guests get a delicious meal without waiting in line and with minimal employee contact via mobile F&B offerings. Manage the Traffic Flow of Your Guests •Monitor the flow of guest traffic in real time to prevent crowds before they form. •Identify pinch points (areas that consistently become congested) and modify the environment to prevent them (e.g., by moving benches, landscaping, rope lines, etc.). •Send guests Experience Crowd Alerts™: Leveraging guest experience technology, ensure guests are not bunching in high traffic areas of the venue by sending messages in real time to direct guest traffic to less dense areas.

Guests social distancing at Tokyo Disney Resort (credit: Tokyo Disney Resort)

Booking online with accesso Passport.

Expedite COVID-19 Contact Tracing In the event that a guest or staff member tests positive for COVID-19, it is essential to have both contact tracing and a means to notify anyone who may have come into contact with them, if necessary. 4. Virtual Queueing It’s important to outline what sets true virtual queueing apart from less advanced timeslot ride reservation systems. Virtual queueing is dynamic and takes into account real-time park attendance, weather impacts, ride load times, etc. Conversely, timeslot reservation systems do not allow for these dynamic changes and run the risk of creating a domino-effect of guest satisfaction issues should delays occur early in the day, or loss of potential throughput should lines move more quickly than anticipated. 5. Returning Home Capacity Control and Ongoing Communication The experience doesn’t end once guests have left, in fact, far from it. Ongoing communication with guests once they’ve returned home remains key to ensuring guest satisfaction and building brand loyalty. Communication can take on various forms, but there are two areas of focus that stand out as top priorities: Follow-up surveys: Standard in monitoring the guest experience years before COVID-19 came into the picture, such surveys now play a crucial role in ensuring guest satisfaction in light of the new protocols and guidelines. If something is not working well within the park, guest survey responses will be one of the first indicators of challenges that may require attention. Used correctly, these survey responses can be used as a tool to further improve park operations while continuing to ensure guest safety and satisfaction. Promotions: You are looking for more than just a one-off visit and want to build (or re-build) a base of loyal guests. Once a guest has experienced all your attraction or venue has to offer, your next challenge is providing them with compelling reasons to return. Utilising the technology that built a customised experience for the guest while inside the park will also allow operators to leverage insights and generate customised offers and promotions for individual guests. These personalised gestures show guests that they’re heard, understood and not just another ‘number in the crowd’, which increases the chance they’ll return to redeem their personalised offer. Capacity Another important consideration during the current COVID crisis is the tracking of guest capacity. By ‘scanning out’ guests

as they leave, you can provide your operational staff with an accurate count of guests within your venue, empowering them to maintain a safe environment. Final Thoughts Navigating the various stages of a guest’s journey has always been an in-depth process - one that’s crucial to building a base of loyal followers - and COVID-19 has presented new challenges on this front. In the wake of the pandemic, guests will have different expectations that operators will need to meet, simultaneously ensuring the safety of all while seeking to preserve guests’ enjoyment of their favourite theme parks, venues and attractions. As operators look to the future of the industry and the new age of physical distancing, it’s certain that technology will play a critical role in not only meeting those expectations but exceeding them. Steve Brown is Chief Executive of accesso. Based in the UK and with offices around the world, accesso serves over 1000 venues globally, providing ticketing, point of sale, virtual queueing, distribution and guest experience management solutions.

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Australasian Leisure Management Issue 142 63

Beyond Hygiene Exploring how contactless technology can make facilities more efficient and profitable, Gwen Luscombe caught up with Jonas Leisure Chief Executive Mike Henton, and Centaman Entrance Control’s General Manager, Michael Bystram.


hile the global pandemic has supercharged the need for contactless technology, leisure facilities and attractions alike have adopted these measures and invested in additional ones, improve their overall efficiency and profitability. Henton explains “like with any challenging time, we’ve innovated and found new ways of working. The learnings gained through the pandemic have allowed facilities to look at their processes and apply efficiencies. “An example of this is the growing number of businesses introducing ‘self-service’ offerings for customers both to minimise physical contact during the pandemic, and also to give customers more control over their bookings. Going forward, the increased use of online and kiosk platforms will also reduce admin for customer service staff, freeing them up to focus on delivering exceptional service to those customers that require it.” Venues utilising contactless technology for everything from ‘tap and go style’ payments to ticketless entry has surged.

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Henton says these enhancements will improve the overall visitor experience and help facilities improve retention by building a loyal customer base. Bystram agrees, noting “one of the changes we’ve seen throughout the pandemic is increased demand for automated entrance control technology that reduces common touchpoints. These modern access gates are taking workload off reception teams by automating the process of customers entering and exiting a leisure or fitness facility. They are also improving security by providing improved identification of visitors and making sure everyone who comes into a facility should be there.” And it’s not just the hardware that’s improving the way facilities run day-today. Centaman Entrance Control’s new facial recognition add-on for the access gates are providing aquatic facilties and gyms across Australia and New Zealand with better security and ease of access. The new EasyAccess facial recognition reader scans users’ faces to identify them before providing access through a gate or door. The read can also be set up to scan whether visitors are wearing masks and prevent entry to any who are not, if required. Advising that facial recognition technology was already being used in corporate offices in Australasia, but the functionality and price point has, until now, largely ruled it out from use in aquatic facilities and gyms, Bystram adds “it is an ideal way for leisure centres and gyms to provide secure contactless entry during the global COVID-19 pandemic and adds convenience for members by removing the need for them to carry an access card with them at all times. “It also provides increased security by preventing entry by unauthorised visitors who have stolen, found or illegally ‘borrowed’ an access card belonging to an existing paying member of your facility.” One of the advantages of the new reader is that it works with almost any gate or door and could be retrofitted to many existing Centaman Entrance Control gates. The reader can store up to 50,000 faces in its internal database and faces can be scanned from up to three metres away. It also includes anti-spoofing detection support that enables it to distinguish live faces from photos and videos. Henton explains “the demand for upgraded entrance control solutions has meant some providers have struggled to keep up. “We’ve been fortunate that our scale means we have been able to install new gates faster than most. However, there is some lead time when installing gates, as is the case for any physical infrastructure,

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Jonas Leisure's Visitance contact tracing App.

so it pays for people to make the decision to install them early rather than sitting on the fence for too long. “Some of our biggest surprises came in the adoption of technology and the speed with which usage spread. “For example, our Visitance contact tracing solution was picked up by a wide range of businesses in the UK, USA and other places around the world, in addition to Australia where we originally envisioned it being used.” Visitance is a free contact tracing solution that also provides a population count displayed on a screen at the front entrance. It effectively displays the number of guests inside a facility at any one time. It simplified the check-in process of people moving in and out of a facility by using a QR code. Facility visitors scanned the code using the camera app on their phones and contact information was gathered and securely held at the Microsoft Azure data centre in Sydney, allowing managers to easily contact facility users if a case of COVID-19 was discovered at one of their sites. Henton advises “the feedback we’ve received has been really positive. “Of the platforms people have tried, Visitance seems to have been the most user friendly and many facilities are telling us it has helped them re-open safely.” The City of Canning in Western Australia was one of the many organisations that used Visitance to support re-opening efforts at its leisure centres. The council used the system for three weeks in June just prior to the state entering Phase 4 of restrictions easing. These removed most restrictions on gyms and fitness centres. The council lauded the system’s ease of use, professional look, and ability to record both entry and departure times for visitors. The latter had the added benefit of providing insights into overall average visit times for leisure centre users, in addition to enabling contact tracing and a real-time occupancy count to be displayed. It’s the type of technology that until COVID-19, may not have been so readily considered, but one that’s quickly being

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66 Australasian Leisure Management Issue 142

adopted for its variety of benefits beyond hygiene. Some facilities are also using Centaman Entrance Control solutions to control and monitor access to the different areas of their facility. This provides insight into who’s entered different areas, and when. It’s useful for security, as well as understanding where people have been within your facility and areas of popularity. Beyond access control, technologies such as cashless payment systems for food and beverage purchases within venues and ticketless entry have all eased queues, wait times and even the need for additional staffing in venues. As reported online by Australasian Leisure Management back in November 2020, cashless technology companies such as Intercard, have seen growing demand for its systems. This was in both operators upgrading by swapping out other vendors’ systems for Intercard as well as first-time buyers of cashless technology. Customers and event attendees are increasingly arriving with e-tickets and staff are able to validate them on entry, at a distance, with a scan of the smartphone. Utilising a cashless system, venues are also able to ease the burden on merchandise and food and beverage outlets by moving to ‘tap and go’ only systems such as eftpos and Apple Pay. It’s a similar experience for Embed, who provide cashless business management systems and solutions for the amusement and entertainment industries. They recently partnered with Ticket Time to open their new business and pop-up arcade located in the Australia Fair Shopping Centre on Queensland Gold Coast. The arcade, which opened just prior to the Australian school holidays in June 2020, immediately encountered the challenge of Australia’s inter-state travel restrictions and border closures. This severely impacted tourism revenue and with limited staff, and the additional challenge of implementing additional COVIDSafe measures such as capacity caps, the owners needed to implement a system that acted as a ‘staff member’ without compromising guest’s experience. They took advantage of Embed’s self-service kiosk, where customers could quickly reload their game cards and check balances without queueing. Additionally, owner Luke Phillips seized the opportunity to partner with a local shopping centre and set up an unmanned pop-up arcade. Anyone with an existing Ticket Time game card could play at the pop-up. Within six weeks of opening, Ticket Time generated $17,000 in revenue while saving $7,000 in extra wages simply by using the kiosk and cashless system. For facilities looking to setting up contactless solutions, the downtime to install it can be quite minimal. Bystram goes on to say “when it comes to entrance control gates, installation is a reasonably rapid process. “Our team is happy to provide advice on best practices for managing access for customers throughout any new gate installation process.” Adding that it all depends on the agreed project plan and process for deploying the solution, Henton concludes “our team works with our clients to provide a plan that has minimal impact on business operations, aiming to eliminate downtime if possible, or at least ensure any downtime is short and occurs at a time that best suits the business.” Gwen Luscombe is Director of the Ideas Library and a regular contributor to Australasian Leisure Management.



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Netball Australia’s Marne Fechner has moved to become the inaugural Chief Executive at AusCycling, the recently formed National Sporting Organisation representing all cycling disciplines. Fechner, who was previously Netball Australia’s Head of Commercial and Chief Executive of the Netball World Cup Sydney in 2015 before taking on her current role, said it was a difficult decision to leave the sport where she has overseen major improvements in participation, commercialisation and marketing of netball.

Fitness Australia’s new Directors Edwina Griffin, who owns and runs Fitwomen and Fitmum Accreditation Programs in Queensland and NSW and Greg Oliver, Chief Executive and Managing Director of the Fitness & Lifestyle Group have been elected to Fitness Australia’s board as Directors. The elections also saw the re-election of current Director, Justin McDonell of the Collective Wellness Group.

Nick Hill, Chief Executive of the Auckland Tourism, Events and Economic Development (ATEED), has been announced as the inaugural head of the new council-controlled organisation that will run the city’s events, tourism and venues. The new agency, which commenced operations on 1st December has merged ATEED with Regional Facilities Auckland, which currently runs major facilities including the Aotea Centre, Mt Smart Stadium and Auckland Zoo.

Asia-based Australian Alan Mahony, Vice President - Marine & Waterpark at the Atlantis Sanya Resort on China’s Hainan Island has become the first and only non Chinese to be awarded the Outstanding Leader for China Amusement & Attractions Industry at the Asian Attractions Golden Crown Awards.

Rugby Australia appoints SANZAAR’s Andy Marinos as new Chief Executive Rugby Australia appointed Andy Marinos as its new Chief Executive – joining the sport from SANZAAR, where he has been Chief Executive for five years. Born in Zimbabwe, Marinos played both codes of rugby professionally and represented Wales at rugby union, guiding the SANZAAR joint venture from its Sydney base through the challenges of COVID-19.

Sport New Zealand names Raelene Castle as new Chief Executive Raelene Castle, the former Chief Executive of Rugby Australia and the NRL’s Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs, has been named as Sport New Zealand’s new Chief Executive, replacing long-serving postholder Peter Miskimmin, who announced in August he would be leaving in December after more than a decade in the role. Castle, who left Rugby Australia early in 2020, will be the first woman to lead Sport NZ. 68 Australasian Leisure Management Issue 142

City of Greater Bendigo farewells venue manager David Lloyd The City of Greater Bendigo has announced that David Lloyd, Manager of Bendigo Venues and Events, is leaving after 16 years in the role. Lloyd joined the Council in 2004, helping shape a diverse performing arts program that has steadily grown theatre audiences and contributed to Greater Bendigo’s reputation as a leading arts centre in regional Victoria. The development and opening of Ulumbarra Theatre was a significant highlight of his time with the organisation, which resulted in winning the Performing Arts Connections Australian Venue of the Year in 2017. Having left his role as Chief Executive of the NRL earlier in 2020, Todd Greenberg has been appointed to the board of the expanded new Venues NSW agency. Legislation passed through the NSW Parliament has expanded Venues NSW by merging it with the Sydney Cricket and Sports Ground Trust, creating a managing entity for sport and entertainment venues in the state, overseeing the state’s major sports venues including the SCG, the rebuilt Allianz Stadium, ANZ Stadium and Bankwest Stadium. In addition to Greenberg, Tony Shepherd, former President of the Business Council of Australia, will be the Chair of the new agency, with Rod McGeoch, former Chief Executive of the Sydney 2000 Olympic bid, named Deputy Chair. Other board members are: •Kim Curtain - Deputy Secretary, Jobs, Investment and Tourism at NSW Treasury. •Amy Duggan - former Matilda and board member of Football Federation Australia. •Erin Flaherty - former Executive Director Infrastructure NSW and founding board member of Sydney Metro Authority. •Ian Hammond - Chairman of previous Venues NSW entity. •Alan Jones - Broadcaster and Deputy Chairman of the Australian Sports Commission. •Sally Loane - Board member of Destination NSW and first female director of Waratahs Rugby. •Christine McLoughlin - Chairman of Suncorp Group Limited and co-founder and Director of the Minerva Network. •John Quayle - former Chief Executive of Australian and NSW Rugby League and General Manager of Venues and Precincts for the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games.

Stepping Down Eddie McGuire, President of the Collingwood Football Club has announced he will step down from the role at the end of the 2021 AFL season after 23 years in the position. Martin Doulton, Director of Team MONASH, Monash University’s sports division, has retired after 20 years in the role. He will continue his work as an Executive Committee member at FISU (International University Sports Federation). Swimming Australia Chief Executive Leigh Russell has stepped down from her role as of last November. Suncorp Super Netball Chief Executive Chris Symington has left the role.Symington joined Suncorp Super Netball in its second season in 2018, leading the league as Executive General Manager of Events before becoming the competition’s Chief Executive.



The Emerald Tourist Railway Board has confirmed the appointment of Peter Abbott as incoming Chief Executive for Victorian heritage tourist attraction - Puffing Billy. Mornington Peninsula Shire and Belgravia Leisure have appointed Dan Andrews as Centre Manager of the soon-toopen Yawa Aquatic Centre. Shooting Australia has appointed experienced sports administrator Sarah Brady to their newly created position of General Manager, Commercial and Marketing. SportWest has announced the appointment of Matt Fulton as its new Chief Executive. Mark Gosling, Chief Executive of The Trusts Arena, has assumed the role of Board Chair of the Entertainment Venues Association of New Zealand (EVANZ), taking over from Keith Parker. Sport and entertainment insights and strategy company, Gemba has appointed Adam Hodge to the newly created role of Divisional Manager - Marketing Strategy. Eddie Idik, Director of the Vital Protection Group, has been elected as Chair of the NSW Chapter of ASIS International for 2021. Former Sydney Swans star Alex Johnson, who was forced to end his AFL career prematurely as a result of a series of knee injuries, is now the owner of two soon-to-open Infinite Cycle studios in metropolitan Melbourne - in Armadale and Brighton. Anita Mitchell has been named Chief Executive, Placemaking NSW, to lead the team responsible for managing and transforming some of NSW’s most treasured places including The Rocks and Darling Harbour, Sydney Olympic Park, and in the Hunter and Central Coast.

New rubber safety flooring for Horsham Aquatic Centre Horsham Rural City Council in western Victoria has replaced the rubber floor covering throughout the entire indoor pool walkways with Life Floor at its large aquatic centre. As with a number of aquatic construction projects across Australia, the enforced Coronavirus shutdown provided an opportune window to embark on the major task without any disruptions. Grassports Australia (Queensland) was awarded the contract following a tender process and completed the 450 metre² installation in under two weeks using the 10mm thick anti-slip ripple texture tile. Contact 1300 721 135, E:,

Athletics Australia has announced the appointment of former Sport Australia Chief Executive Kate Palmer to its Board of Directors. Swimming Australia has appointed two-time Olympic gold medallist, Kieren Perkins as its new President. Y NSW swim instructor at Ku-ring-gai Fitness and Aquatic Centre, Randev (Dev) Sappany, has been named the nation’s best adult swim instructor at the AUSTSWIM 2020 Awards of Excellence. Emeritus Professor David Simmons has been presented with New Zealand tourism’s most prestigious individual honour, the Sir Jack Newman Award, representing the first time the honour has been presented to a university academic. Tenpin Bowling Australia has announced the appointment of Damien Smith to the role of General Manager, Industry. Former international cricketer Martin Snedden has been elected as the new Chair of the New Zealand Cricket board, filling the role vacated by Greg Barclay, who was required to stand down from the position after being elected Chairman of the International Cricket Council (ICC). New Zealand industry training body, Skills Active has announced that lighting technician for the performing arts sector, Lucas Tofani Souza is the winner of their 2020 Apprentice of the Year. Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has announced a limited Cabinet reshuffle, moving Education Minister Dan Tehan to the trade portfolio where he becomes the new Federal Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment. Radical Fitness Australia has announced Trish Veugelaers as the newest member of its Master Trainer team. Legendary middle-distance runner Sir John Walker has been named as Patron of Athletics New Zealand.

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Vivaticket announces company enhancements to drive post COVID growth Vivaticket has announced enhancements to its existing integration with the MailChimp EDM software,Vimeo, to provide ticketing for clients who are streaming their shows. Additionally, enhancements will be made to the Seat Ownership functionality to address the COVID-19 requirements. Clients can now automate pre and post-show emails to customers who attend a performance, via the integration with MailChimp. The information about who is to receive the pre and/or post-show email is automatically sent from the Vivaticket solution to Mail Chimp daily. Using Mail Chimp’s automation features, clients will be able to trigger when these emails are sent. This will assist in marketing efforts, in addition to allowing clients to communicate quickly with their customers about closures, and other important details relating to COVID-19. Additionally, Vivaticket has created an integration with Vimeo (other streaming services are also available) allowing clients to make a purchase and view video content within their website. The enhancement of Seat Ownership functionality will help clients address the required COVID-19 reporting requirements with Vivaticket seeing that many of its clients have already prepared their websites for when sales restart. Contact John Godwin on 0411 470 205 or Australasian Leisure Management Issue 142 69


EventPro’s latest update offers new features and enhanced functionality

Ungerboeck launches new platform to back virtual events

EventPro Software has announced a new software release that includes a batch of new features that have been in high demand this year. EventPro, a division of Profit Systems Inc. (PSI), is a development-focused company committed to continuously adding value to its software, and this latest release delivers on that commitment. The new features available are: •EVA-Calendar Sync: This highly anticipated automated service enables two-way sync of event locations between EventPro and Exchange or Google Calendars. EVA-Calendar Sync allows people to book EventPro locations without actually using the EventPro program, making the booking process easier, while maintaining the privacy of your EventPro system. •Contact Tracing: A critical feature for these times, this new online module helps clients screen and trace everyone who enters their facility and/or event. •Invitations & Appointments: Right from within EventPro, EPConnect (web integration suite), or Virtual Assistants (automation services), users can send calendar invitations or appointments to recipients through manually created or automatically generated emails. Contact 02 9504 6999, E:,

Mindful of how events have changed as venues have been closed during Coronavirus lockdowns, Ungerboeck has developed new and innovative solutions to give its international customer community the flexibility they need in order to host events in the ‘new normal’ - from virtual, to hybrid, to safe onsite events experiences. With 62% of event professionals considering hybrid event concepts, the technology provider has enhanced its event management software to facilitate the organisation of both virtual and in-person experiences. Ungerboeck’s solution adds powerful virtual functionality for events including: -Registration: easily manage registration to virtual and in-person components of an event creating a seamless experience for attendees and allowing flexibility to switch to a virtual experience at any point. -Live streaming of sessions: deliver live sessions and make recordings available on demand after the event on the event microsite. -Virtual exhibitions: a dedicated area for exhibitors to showcase their latest solutions and engage with visitors through virtual booths in a fun and interactive fashion. -Engagement tools: live interaction between participants, speakers and exhibitors through chats, comments and surveys. -Awards & Competitions capabilities: allowing organiser to manage competitions and awards with a full process for submission and judging. Contact 07 3359 7919, E:,

Les Mills International partners with Qrious to provide data solution for optimising customer experiences

Independent gym in Paddington pioneers new innovations in hygiene

Les Mills International has partnered with Qrious to design and implement a modern data solution allowing the group fitness leaders to make smarter, faster decisions to achieve their ultimate goal of understanding, creating and optimising the customer experiences. With a modern data approach, the partnership has enabled Les Mills International to gain full control of their online customer experiences, being able to check the success of new videos released on their LES MILLS On Demand platform with metrics on when, for how long, and how many times they are watched. They are now working on the ability to identify and analyse the video features that best capture customer interest. Contact: 02 6282 8192, E:, 70 Australasian Leisure Management Issue 142

Flow Athletic in the Sydney suburb of Paddington is innovating in hygiene to keep members safe with the Australian Register of Therapeutic Goods (ARTG) approved disinfectant, Australianowned Aeris Active. The Australian-developed Aeris Active’s listing with the ARTG validates the efficacy and proven ability of Aeris Active to kill COVID-19 on hard surfaces for up to seven days and provide residual antibacterial efficacy for up to 30 days. Developed, tested and manufactured in Aeris Environmental’s Sydney laboratory, Aeris Active is a broad-spectrum disinfectant cleaner for use on a wide range of hard surfaces. It is being used in gyms, cafes, bars and retail environments to keep people safe, and restore confidence to anyone entering these spaces. Contact 02 8344 1315, E:,


International Quadratics Pty Ltd launches pHlozone aquatic facility management software

Perth-based fitness start-up Vitruvian raises US$2.5 million seed round capital Perth-based fitness start-up Vitruvian has raised US$2.5 million in capital in a seed round led by South East Asian fitness operator Evolution Wellness. This injection allows Vitruvian to ramp up production of their innovative strength training device, the V-Form Trainer, which promises to dramatically improve the efficiency and accessibility of resistance training. Email:

International Quadratics Pty Ltd has announced a partnership with software company, Strikeforce Pty Ltd to deliver pHlozone - a new facility management software to the commercial aquatic market. The new software offers an all-in-one software platform that manages teams, tasks, reporting, ordering, water tests and even schedules repair jobs. Introducing the software, Strikeforce Director, Peter Legaz stated “we are extremely excited to partner with IQ in bringing pHlozone to the commercial aquatic market. IQ’s serviceability and strong reputation within the commercial aquatics sector is second to none and already is proving to be a positive move for the product and customers alike.” Pam Robinson, Commercial Business Development Manager for International Quadratics, who has been at the front of the software release, noted the “the platform is an extremely powerful management and operations tool for aquatic centres, learn to swim centres, hotels, and any commercial facility with a swimming pool or spa.” Contact Pam Robinson on 02 9774 5550, E: (in Australia) or David Cory Toussaint on 027 205 1560, E: (in New Zealand).

Centaman introduces new facial recognition solution for Australian and New Zealand aquatic, fitness and sport centres

TeamUp shares insights on access and delivery of fitness classes in 2021 TeamUp, a supplier of gym management software for boutique gyms and studios suggests that in 2021, fitness businesses are going to take advantage of the opportunity to merge the clients they have gained from teaching online during the Coronavirus crisis with those of their gyms or studios, by live-streaming their inperson classes to reach both audiences. TeamUp advise that “when the pandemic hit forcing gyms and studios to close, our team worked day and night for two weeks straight completely focused on getting our Zoom integration up and running so our customers did not have to stop teaching and running their businesses. “Not only did our customers jump at the chance to use the Zoom integration to keep their businesses open virtually, but we actually saw even more signups thanks to this new feature and the demand to teach online.” TeamUp are offering a completely free trial to allow any potential customers the opportunity to explore their software before signing up. For more information go to

Security solutions specialist Centaman Entrance Control is offering a new facial recognition technology add-on for its access gates, including its range available to aquatic, fitness and sport facilities in Australia and New Zealand. The new EasyAccess facial recognition reader scans users’ faces to identify them before providing fast, easy access through an access gate or door. It can be set up to scan the temperature of visitors to help prevent against COVID-19 and other respiratory illnesses, or even configured to scan whether visitors are wearing masks and prevent entry to any who are not, if required. The new EasyAccess facial recognition readers are Centaman Entrance Control General available for all Centaman Entrance Control gates. Manager Michael Bystram said facial recognition technology was already used in some corporate offices in Australasia but the functionality and price point has largely ruled it out from use in leisure facilities and gyms, until now. Bystram noted “the new EasyAccess reader is an effective system available at a price point that many gyms and leisure centres will find appealing. “It is an ideal way for leisure centres and gyms to provide secure contactless entry during the global COVID-19 pandemic and it adds convenience for members by removing the need for them to carry an access card with them at all times. It also provides increased security by preventing entry by unauthorised visitors who have stolen, found or illegally ‘borrowed’ an access card belonging to an existing paying member of your facility.” Bystram adds that one of the advantages of the new EasyAccess facial recognition reader was that it worked with almost any gate or door and could be retrofitted to many existing Centaman Entrance Control gates. Each EasyAccess reader can store up to 50,000 faces in its internal database. Faces can be scanned from up to three metres away, and the reader includes anti-spoofing detection support that enables it to distinguish live faces from pictures and videos. Options are also available to link multiple readers and to allow staff to manage a secure database of visitor and member faces from one central location. Contact 02 9906 7522, Australasian Leisure Management Issue 142 71


QPAC selects SwiftPOS to modernise guest experience platform The Queensland Performing Arts Centre (QPAC) has selected MSL’s SwiftPOS software to simplify and modernise its Point of Sale (POS) and guest experience platform. Welcoming more than 1.5 million visitors to over 1,200 performances each year, QPAC - located in South Brisbane, offers patrons multiple options to eat and drink across five restaurants and bars as well as a number of function and event spaces across the complex. The partnership with MSL will provide QPAC with an integrated guest experience platform that will remove current manual processes and workflows, connect front of house to back office and streamline processes. The platform will allow QPAC to provide guests fast and efficient service, as well as multiple ordering and payment options depending on their preference. Built on MSL’s SwiftPOS software engine, the new POS solution willl provide a single source of data for QPAC and includes an integrated stock system. New functionality available to QPAC includes membership, promotions, vouchers, split bills. The platform also provides future opportunities to implement mobile self-service ordering and guest pre-ordering to help alleviate wait times during busy periods including intermission during performances. Contact 1800 679 701, E:,

California Sport Surfaces launches Ultra Performance Series Building Solutions Group (ICP BSG) has announced the launch of its California Sports Surfaces (CSS) Ultra Performance Series, a complete reformulation of its Plexipave® and DecoTurf® products that delivers exceptional abrasion resistance, improved permeability, excellent coverage, a streamlined colour palette and other qualities demanded in the world’s most competitive sports surface applications. California Sport Surfaces (CSS), the supplier of prestigious sports surfacing product lines for tennis courts, basketball courts, track and more is the surface of multiple Olympic Games as well as other world-renowned events, including the US Open from 1978 to 2019 and the Australian Open from 1988 to 2018. Contact 1800 786 617, E:,

Send your product news to 72 Australasian Leisure Management Issue 142

Reliance Risk partners with Pandemic Protect to launch Venue COVIDSafe products Reliance Risk has announced a strategic partnership with Pandemic Protect to offer Venue COVIDSafe products. As Australia continues the slow recovery from COVID-19 restrictions, having reliable product supplies for infection control will be an important part of helping to manage this risk and keeping venues safe. Reliance Risk Managing Director, Wayne Middleton advises “over the past six to nine months venues have experienced variability in COVIDSaferelated products and we believe venues need a safe, credible and reliable supply that is of a high standard and well-priced. After searching the market we considered Pandemic Protect strongly reflected those values and capability.” Contact 02 8377 1818, E:,

LED specialist AREALUX becomes AAA-LUX Australia Local sports field lighting expert AREALUX, an AAA-LUX distribution partner since October 2017, has transitioned to become AAA-LUX AUSTRALIA - making it a full member of the AAA-LUX lighting organisation. AAA-LUX Australia Managing Director, Michael Read explains “AAA-LUX has done 2.500 projects in over 50 countries in the world. We are everywhere but our success is accompanied with a limited brand recognition. It is time we change that in Australia. “In 2014 AAA-LUX entered the market and now after six years we are happy to become part of the AAA-LUX family. The Australian market is ready for the next step.” Contact 1300 222 589, E:,

INTIX highlights the need for digital ticketing in local sport Australian ticketing and technology company INTIX, highlights that for smaller local sporting clubs and events to ensure they are managed in a COVIDSafe way - including contactless entry, social distancing and strong contact tracing capability - their technology needs upgrading in order to meet these requirements. INTIX Chief Executive, Alex Grant notes that “as a locally owned Victorian ticketing company, INTIX has seen, and experienced first-hand, the changing landscape in our sports and events industry in Victoria as a result of COVID-19. “We are now in a position where many smaller-scale events, such as local footy clubs, will be required to upgrade their technology in order to meet these requirements.” Contact,

New consultancy helps fitness club owners develop solid exit plans


Industry newcomer Leading Edge Business Consulting has joined forces with GSE Business Consultants to launch a new joint venture called Fitness Business Sales. The venture delivers specialist services beyond those of a conventional broker, to produce tailored growth plans and exit strategies for gym owners. Damien Bain (pictured) is the co-founder of Leading Edge Business Consulting (LEBC), which is a highly specialised business consultancy dedicated to creating measurable outcomes of growth and success. Bain is an executive leader with more than 20 years’ experience in multiple industries, after having successfully managed portfolios in excess of $120 million in revenue, and staffing of up to 1,200. Partnering with Bain to create Fitness Business Sales is Paul Leach, the founder of GSE Business Consultants. Through Fitness Business Sales, the 25+ years of combined experience in health and fitness operations of Bain and Leach aim to provide gym owners with specialised guidance to navigate the unique and challenging process of selling their business. To support club owners during this unique time, Fitness Business Sales takes a considered approach, rather than taking a ‘test the market’ approach, which increases the risk of underselling or overpricing a business or having it get stuck on the market. Contact Damien Bain on 0414 738 461, E: Paul Leach on 0415 801 313, E:

Peloton announces US$420 million acquisition of fitness equipment maker Precor US-based fitness and media company Peleton is to acquire the Precor equipment brand from current owner Amer Sports in a deal worth a reported US$420 million. With Peleton having enjoyed a highly successful year, the acquisition of Precor, which will include 58,000 metre² of North American manufacturing space will speed up production of its cycles and treadmills and meet its promised delivery windows. Demand for Peloton’s exercise equipment has surged during the Coronavirus pandemic, straining its supply chain, as consumers look to work out at home. The deal also boosts Peloton’s product development efforts, by adding nearly 100 research-and-development employees to its existing staff. For 40 years, Precor has been a pioneer in creating quality fitness experiences introducing the world’s first elliptical in 1995 and the fitness industry’s first capacitive touchscreen in 2010. Contact Precor distributor Novofit on 1800 628 824, E:,

Openpay and Stack Sports combine to introduce buy-now-pay-later option for sport clubs In a first for Australian sport and in response to growing customer demand, sport club management system Stack Sports has partnered with Australian buy-now-pay-later (BNPL) provider Openpay. The partnership, set for an initial three-year period, will give the members of sport clubs using the Stack Sports platform the ability to pay for membership and registration fees in interestfree instalments. With many sporting clubs charging upfront yearly fees they risk missing out on customers that would prefer to spread the cost over monthly payments. However, for most sport clubs the administrative burden of chasing monthly payments and the financial uncertainty that brings simply isn’t an option. By using BNPL through the Stack Sports management system these clubs will be able to offer longer and more flexible payment terms without compromising their cashflow as the risk will be taken on by Openpay for the cost of a small merchant fee. This ensures clubs access revenue upfront to cover running costs and improve their services, while making paying for these services more accessible to a wider range of customers. For more information go to

Spa Vision partners with CryoAction Leading global spa consultants, Spa Vision has announced its latest brand partnership with cryotherapy provider, CryoAction, in response to the rapidly increasing popularity of whole body cryotherapy treatments in sporting and wellness facilities. The new partnership will see Spa Vision integrate CryoAction chambers into its extensive portfolio as it continues to broaden its premium, specialist offering to clients across Australia and New Zealand. CryoAction is a leading provider of whole-body cryotherapy chambers used by elite sports clubs, wellness facilities and spas due to well documented health and wellness benefits. Contact 0418 951 353, E:, Australasian Leisure Management Issue 142 73

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Pico Play delivers Big Octopus for Ripley’s Believe It or Not! Surfers Paradise Theming and design experts Pico Play has revealed its role in the creation and construction of the newly unveiled Big Octopus at Ripley’s Believe It or Not! Surfers Paradise. The latest in a grand tradition of roadside ‘big things’ in Australia, the 1.5-tonne, 8.5-metre wide Big Octopus was built by the same team who worked on the construction of Universal Studios Singapore, allowing Pico Play to showcase its expertise in planning, design and development of themed experiences. Construction began in August 2020 while the attraction was closed due to COVID-19 and took 40 people four months to create the installation, which is based on Australia’s infamous and venomous blue-ringed octopus. The Big Octopus features glowing coloured LED lights within its blue rings. These can be customised to fit in with seasonal events as well as different charities. Contact: 07 5688 1050, E:,

VST Enterprises launches world’s first secure digital health passport for tourism, sports and venue sectors British technology company VST Enterprises has launched the world’s first secure ‘5 In 1 digital health passport and wallet’ - V-Health Passport™ - which has its own unique contact tracing capability ‘True Contact™’ built within the technology designed for travel, sports stadiums, venues, factories, offices and construction sites. V-Health Passport™ is a crucial ‘safe technology enabler’ in reviving global economies, home lives and helping Governments, business and industry to start returning to work and normality. V-Health Passport™ will allow sports fans to return to the stadiums at capacity and not at the UK’s current socially distanced crowd protocols of 2000 fans. It will help get the hospitality sector back on its feet welcoming customers back. Because of the way V-Health Passport™ is designed - based on interaction and incentive - the hospitality sector can engage with unique offerings and discounts to its customers. V-Health Passport™ will help the live music and entertainment sectors resume their concerts and performances in arenas, stadiums and theatres. They will be safe in the knowledge that fans have either been tested or vaccinated and can authenticate their status. The cross border, cross corporation V-Health Passport™ can be used by international Governments, consumers and companies to authenticate a person’s true identity, their COVID test results and vaccinations. For more information on VCode® and VPlatform® technology go to

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MAY 17-19 2021

Sea World Resort, Gold Coast



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