Australasian Leisure Management Issue 144 2021

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ATTRACTIONS Sydney Royal Easter Show Destination Surf Parks


Growing a Business AI’s Transformative Power


Print Post Approved PP100022562

Anti Wave’s 50 Years Staff Recruitment


Australia’s Biggest Sporting Merger Social Value


Reconsidering Venues Circuses Pivot for the Future


Issue 144







features 16

Making Waves The potential of destination surf parks


Australia’s Anti Wave 50 years of aquatic innovation


Social Value of Sport Sport and recreation’s non-economic benefits


The Return of the Royal Easter Show The world’s biggest ticketed event in 2021

36 COVER: URBNSURF Melbourne. Australia’s first destination surf park. Credit: URBNSURF Melbourne

regulars 6 From the Publisher 8 Two Months in Leisure

Growing your fitness business in the post COVID world

40 for all the latest industry news, products and events

How Many People do we Need? Staff recruitment and turnover in aquatic centres


The Transformative Power of AI Artificial intelligence presents unique opportunities


Circus Pivots for a New Age Keeping the Big Top Spirit Alive and Well


Time to Reconsider A new approach to venues around the world

60 People 61 Products

Hitting the Target


Inside Australia’s Biggest Sporting Merger AusCycling’s mega merger


4 Australasian Leisure Management Issue 144

Integrating Indigenous Processes in Design Leading with an Inclusive Design Process

From the Publisher How confident are you?

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 Pegasus Print Group Building B, 1A Bessemer Street, Blacktown NSW 2148 Tel: 02 8822 0600, The annual subscription cost is AUS $90 (inclusive of GST) in Australia, New Zealand and throughout the Rest of the World. Members of AALARA, ARNA, 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

As a reader and industry professional, how confident are you about this industry as 2021 marches on? Over a year ago, as Coronavirus first impacted, it was generally assumed that by now its direct affect would be over, that business interruptions and lockdowns would be behind us and that we would be into a truly post-pandemic world. Yet, new COVID variants continue to emerge, lockdowns persist and borders remain largely closed - a situation that is likely to persist until the majority of the population is vaccinated against Coronavirus and the vaccine proves effective. It is this backdrop that has prompted my question about confidence. With the Federal Government’s JobKeeper program now halted, Coronavirus restrictions, loss of overseas visitors and COVID-19 induced changes in consumer behaviour have not resulted in anticipated job losses. By contrast, many sectors are experiencing staff shortages, particularly in roles previously filled by international students and visitors, with figures showing that around 220,000 overseas workers left Australia’s labour market between December 2019 and March this year. In our news pages, a cross section of developments show remarkable positivity in fitness, despite being the first facilities closed in a lockdown and membership levels not being at pre-COVID numbers. Genesis Health and Fitness Chief Executive, Ian Jensen-Muir has also made comments backing this resurgence advising that, as of the end of February, memberships levels across the national network of franchises are back to 96% of pre-COVID levels, including Victoria which was seriously impacted by extended lockdowns. Yet it is in live entertainment where most uncertainty is present. Despite Australia’s theatre productions leading the world in attracting audiences, festivals and live events - which require months and even years to plan - are beset by uncertainty. Forward planning for any type of activity that requires border crossings is so uncertain at this time. Here the postponement of Byron Bay’s Bluesfest just a day before it was due to run over the Easter weekend had a massive impact. NSW Health’s “eleventh-hour” decision, as described by Live Performance Australia Chief Executive, Evelyn Richardson, to cancel the festival not only effected the organisers, musicians, hundreds of employees who run the event and the small businesses who host stalls at the festival site. But also with Bluesfest having adopted a comprehensive COVID-19 Safety Plan, postponement of the festival (now rescheduled for the October long weekend) showed the precariousness of planning live events at this time. With promoters and venues unable to secure cancellation insurance - another element of Australia’s insurance crisis that requires Federal Government intervention – such business interruption surely undermines confidence. Nigel Benton, Publisher

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

Study shows aquatic centres struggling to recruit and retain lifeguards

Bluesfest has announced their festival has been rescheduled for the October long weekend (Friday 1st to Monday 4th October) with Midnight Oil headlining opening night

Bluesfest named finalist for ‘Music Festival of the Decade’ by Pollstar Awards USA Pollstar Awards USA has named Bluesfest as a finalist for ‘Music Festival of the Decade’ - the only Australian festival, event or venue to be nominated for this award, which celebrates ‘the most artistically and commercially successful festival of the last decade providing the most rewarding experience for fans and artists’. Peter Noble, Bluesfest Festival Director notes “after all we have been through since the start of the pandemic, with two cancellations, including one which occurred the day before we were all set and ready to open our gates, it is a pleasure to be offered something positive for Bluesfest … it’s something for our hard-working team to put their heads up and be proud of after all we have been through recently.”

Aquatic centres across Australia are struggling to find adequate numbers of lifeguards to meet facility needs with a newly published study also showing that facilities are experiencing a high turnover of lifeguarding staff. The study, Lifeguard turnover in aquatic and recreation centres: Perspectives from managers, published in the latest issue of the Australian Journal of Career Development, set out to gain perspectives on the expensive and disruptive impact of high employee turnover of lifeguards in aquatic and recreation facilities. Noting Royal Life Saving - Western Australia’s 2019 study that found that the industry is experiencing “unprecedented levels of lifeguard turnover”, the new study revealed widespread issues in the employment of adequate numbers of lifeguards to meet the industry’s needs.

Australian Sports Foundation distributes record $43.3 million in 2019/20 The Australian Sports Foundation has advised that despite the numerous challenges experienced in sport and recreation in 2019/20, a record $43.3 million was distributed to clubs and athletes, funded by donations from nearly 23,000 donors. Releasing its fundraising highlights of 2019/20, the Foundation has advised “the havoc wrought by the summer of bushfires hit community sports clubs hard, damaging facilities and equipment, and causing financial hardship for affected members. This was closely followed by COVID-19, which has created a crisis that threatens the existence of thousands of community sport clubs across Australia - and, of course, impacts the millions of members, volunteers, coaches, and families that make up community sport all over Australia.

Major Queensland tourism industry bodies collaborate for industry sustainability A new agreement between long-term industry partners, Ecotourism Australia and the Queensland Tourism Industry Council will see the crossrecognition of each other’s certification programs. The new agreement will see Ecotourism Australia’s over 200 certified operators in Queensland receive all benefits of the Quality Tourism Accreditation program (QTAB). Pictured left: QTIC’s Daniel Gschwind and Ecotourism Australia’s Rod Hillman with the signed agreement.

Online Subscriptions Australasian Leisure Management magazine 12 month/six issue subscriptions cost AUS $90 To subscribe go to 8 Australasian Leisure Management Issue 144


FILEX’s face-to-face events return with Sydney Summits FILEX has returned to staging face-to-face events with the announcement that it will stage the FILEX Trainer Summit on 13th and 14th August as well as the FILEX Business Summit on Wednesday 1st and Thursday 2nd September, with both events at the Hilton, Sydney. After significant industry consultation, plus the news that Reed Exhibitions would no longer be running the Fitness Shows, the organisers of FILEX have revealed new formats, with a tighter, more focused schedule, at a new venue.

Openings Cumberland City Council has reopened its Wentworthville Memorial Swim Centre after a $12.2 million upgrade. With work completed in time for the outdoor facility’s pre-Easter reopening, the Centre, which first opened in 1965, now offers a new warm program pool, a leisure pool with beach entry and new change rooms. The refurbished Cairns Convention Centre has reopened with staff preparing for an impressive events calendar including performances from the Ten Tenors, comedy trio Sooshi Mango and Guy Sebastian.

The Judith Wright Arts Centre, formerly the Judith Wright Centre of Contemporary Arts, situated in Fortitude Valley Brisbane, has officially reopened following $3.1 million in refurbishments, transforming the centre into a modern and dynamic hub for Queensland artists and art workers.

The North Queensland Cowboys’ new $40 million high-performance training centre has been officially opened in Townsville, providing state-of-the-art sports medical and research facilities for the city.

Works have been completed on the $18 million Miami Aquatic Centre redevelopment with the popular facility, operated by City Venue Management and home to Rackley Swimming, now offering a new and fully accessible 50 metre outdoor pool, an indoor heated learn to swim pool, a splash pool and pool deck café. After being closed for more than 14 months, the upgraded Shoalhaven Entertainment Centre has reopened with new theatre lighting, audio systems and audio-visual upgrades to enhance the customer and audience experience.

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Australasian Leisure Management Issue 144 9

Ongoing Growth for Fitness Brands Amid uncertainty over how consumers will exercise in the post Coronavirus world, Australasian Leisure Management continues to chart remarkable activity in the fitness industry. This includes:

Viva Leisure has opened its first Titanium branded fitness facility in the inner Sydney suburb of Pyrmont. Nearly two years in the making, Club Lime Pyrmont marks the introduction of Viva Leisure’s first premium facility, with high quality fitout and design, state-of-the-art equipment, outstanding group fitness spaces, 24/7 opening and no lock-in contracts. The ASX-listed fitness company has since opened its 110th company owned location, Hiit Republic Shellharbour in NSW while also opening its first two locations for its new wellness brand, GroundUp. The Australian Institute of Fitness has partnered with Fitness and Lifestyle Group to provide newly qualified personal trainers and group fitness instructors with greater career options. In addition to the career opportunities it facilitates, the partnership also has the potential to provide AIF with a pool of individuals interested in gaining fitness qualifications.

Fitness franchise, 9Round has named AFLW star and professional boxer, Tayla Harris as their official Australian and New Zealand 2021 Ambassador. Combining kickboxing, boxing and HIIT training, 9Round, a part of the Lift Brands family, has 34 locations in Australia and New Zealand and nearly 800 locations globally. The Belgravia Group has commenced offering franchises for its BK’s Gymnastics brand - formerly known as Belgravia Kids. Already operating seven company-owned BK’s Gymnastics centres for children in Melbourne and Sydney, the concept is now being franchised, opening up fresh opportunities for keen would-be franchise buyers. Collective Wellness Group (CWG) has acquired the rights to develop and control the XTEND Barre brand in Australia and New Zealand, significantly increasing its investment in the brand’s continued long-term growth. CWG Chief Executive, Nicole Noye advises “by unleashing a new level of brand, product and marketing innovation, we hope to lead the way in the rapidly expanding premium health and wellness segment. We also see tremendous scope to grow the XTEND Barre network from 23 studios to 100 nationally by 2025 in Australia.” Club Pilates has launched its first three Australian studios with the world’s largest Pilates facilities brand now operational at three locations in Queensland at Sippy Downs, Brisbane Metro North and a first franchised location in Noosa. The openings follow the February signing of Club Pilates’ Australian Master Franchise Agreement which gives the Master Franchisee the right to license at least 50 studios to potential franchisees in the country over the next decade. Club Pilates is backed by Xponential Fitness, a curator of leading boutique fitness brands including Pure Barre, CycleBar, StretchLab, Row House, YogaSix, AKT, and STRIDE. Xponential debuted its CycleBar studio in Perth last year as part of a deal that includes at least 45 locations.

F45 Training has launched a subsidiary brand, FS8 – offering a combination of Pilates, yoga and toning exercises – in Sydney, with surfing hero Mick Fanning as its ambassador. Body Fit Training has been named as the recipient of the 2020 Franchise of the Year award for the APAC region at the 2021 Fit Summit conference in Singapore. Last year saw Body Fit Training launch 36 studios, membership grow from 6,700 at the end of 2019 to 16,551 at the end of 2020 and revenue rise to $15 million. for all the latest industry news 10 Australasian Leisure Management Issue 144

Australia’s largest EMS (electronic muscle stimulation) personal training franchise company, SpeedFit, has announced that it will offer new franchise owners an opportunity to get into the market with a unique, part ownership model, designed to help boost small business ownership in the wake of COVID-19. Leading whole body vibration training equipment and programming company Power Plate has announced that Hollywood star Mark Wahlberg has officially joined the company as both an investor in parent company, Performance Health Systems, and as Power Plate’s brand ambassador for Power Plate.

High Performance Sport NZ to invest $273 million in new elite strategy High Performance Sport NZ (HPSNZ) has unveiled a new strategy to drive New Zealand’s high performance system through major shifts in investment, wellbeing and engagement, and performance pathways between now and 2024. The strategy is backed by more than $273 million of investment including an additional $31.2 million in Government funding through the Sport Recovery Package.

New TreeTop Challenge Junior Adventure Park unveiled on Sunshine Coast

New funding model needed for beach life saving patrols As demands for beach patrols and ocean life-saving services grow, the Australian Professional Ocean Lifeguards Association (APOLA) has called for a new funding model for the delivery of beach safety. Speaking at the recent APOLA national conference in Wollongong, life member Ken Holloway told media “we do an excellent job in drowning prevention and we’ve got a lot of people who are involved. “However, the demographic is changing on our beaches. This is mainly due to immigration and refugees coming from countries which are sometimes landlocked and they’ve never been to a beach before. That’s showing up in the drowning statistics.” The APOLA life member’s comments follow one of the deadliest seasons on record for beach drownings in Australia - during which 86 lives were lost, an increase of 30% from the previous summer. While the volunteer-based Surf Life Saving Australia (SLSA) has the most high-profile role in beach safety, professional lifeguards employed by local government guard beaches up to 265 days a year. SLSA’s income comes from donations, fundraising and state and Federal Government, in contrast to the council funded professional lifeguards.

Australia’s largest high wire park, built specifically for junior adventurers aged up to 10 years old has been unveiled on the Sunshine Coast. Operating on land leased from the Big Pineapple, TreeTop Challenge Junior Adventure Park is spread over 1.2 hectares of rainforest, and has five courses featuring rope bridges, flying foxes, swings and jumps.

Aquatic Recreation Network Australia launched to support states and provide national advocacy opportunities Aiming to represent the interests of the aquatic and recreation industry, the Aquatic Recreation Network Australia (ARNA) has been formed to provide information sharing, networking and collaboration between state peak associations and representatives and to deliver project support and advocacy at a national level. With the former Australian Leisure Facilities Association (ALFA) having ceased operations in 2019, the ARNA networking committee - which meets monthly - was established last year, chaired by Aquatics and Recreation Victoria Chief Executive, Kathy Parton.


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Australasian Leisure Management Issue 144 11

AUSTSWIM continues to deliver training and support for swim and water safety teachers AUSTSWIM has announced that it will return to the personal delivery of training and support for swimming and water safety teachers across ACT, regional NSW, Tasmania and regional Western Australia. AUSTSWIM’s announcement means it will deliver more Teacher of Swimming and Water Safety courses, more extension courses and more professional development backed by more contact with AUSTSWIM team members.

Abu Dhabi’s Miral introduces facial recognition at Yas Island theme parks Busselton’s Australian Underwater Discovery Centre aims for 2023 opening Designs and details of what will be Australia’s largest natural marine observatory have been released with an expectation that the new Australian Underwater Discovery Centre, to be built two kilometres out to sea at the end of Busselton Jetty in Geographe Bay, Western Australia will be open by 2023. With a design mimicking a whale surfacing, the attraction will be positioned partially underwater and feature a large window overlooking the ocean floor.

Former Nazi’s name removed from Mt Hutt ski attractions New Zealand ski field Mt Hutt has reportedly removed references to a former Nazi military officer from its attractions. Management at the Canterbury ski field have removed the name of Willi Huber from a ski run and restaurant following an online protest and complaints from the New Zealand Jewish Council and the Holocaust Centre of New Zealand. Huber, lauded as the ‘father of the mountain’ in a 2017 TVNZ Sunday programme, died in August last year, aged 98. A member of Hitler’s Waffen-SS, Huber rose to the rank of Hauptsturmfuhrer (equivalent of a captain) during the Second World War before arriving in New Zealand in 1953.

Miral, the developer behind the main attractions at Abu Dhabi’s Yas Island, has launched FacePass, a contactless technology that allows visitors to enter and shop within Yas Island’s theme parks using facial recognition. Aimed at enhancing guest safety and well-being during the COVID-19 pandemic, FacePass was recently activated at Ferrari World Abu Dhabi, Yas Waterworld and Warner Bros World Abu Dhabi.

Sydney Indoor MX Dome closes after less than a year of operations Less than a year after its opening, the Sydney Indoor MX Dome at the Eastern Creek Motorsport Hub has closed - with media reports indicating that the venue owners owe an estimated $7.7 million to contractors, investors and staff. Opened in July last year, the $5 million indoor motocross facility was conceived by motocross enthusiasts Mattew and Barbara Bartolo and sat within a 12,000 metre² inflatable dome structure imported from Europe.

NRMA purchases Tasmania’s Freycinet Lodge and Cradle Mountain Hotel NSW motoring organisation the NRMA has announced its acquisition of Freycinet Lodge and Cradle Mountain Hotel, along with Gordon River Cruises, from the Royal Automobile Club of Tasmania (RACT). The $130 million purchase of the high-profile Tasmanian tourism properties by NRMA Parks and Resorts sees them join the NRMA’s $800 million portfolio of tourism assets comprising a national network of holiday parks and a 46% stake in the Cairns-based Coral Expeditions cruise line. NRMA Parks and Resorts has also secured the management contract for the Indigenous-owned Wilpena Pound Resort, which sits at the heart of South Australia’s Flinders Ranges. for all the latest industry news 12 Australasian Leisure Management Issue 144

Credit: Vail Resorts

New data suggests record number of Australian visits to the ski fields this season According to a new study by ski tour operator, We Are Sno, that analysed Google search data and trends - Australia’s ski resorts are set for a booming season with the top five ski resorts recording a combined 117% increase in search queries compared to pre-COVID levels. The research looked at search popularity for each ski resort over the past year compared to previous years to determine which one would be the most popular for holidaymakers, and how visitation is likely to compare to previous years.

Live Performance Australia calls for 100% capacity in live entertainment venues Live Performance Australia - the arts and entertainment industry peak body - is calling on all states and territories to outline the timeframe to allow all live entertainment venues to operate at 100% capacity and to guarantee borders would remain open now the vaccination program is underway. LPA Chief Executive Evelyn Richardson said the live entertainment industry had proved resilient in the face of significant disruption caused by COVID-19 and notes “the industry has worked with all governments to get our people back to work, our shows back on stage and touring.”

World Rugby to back Super Rugby involvement of two Pacific Island teams World Rugby has advised that it will provide financial support to allow two Pacificbased teams to join Super Rugby in 2022 in what it calls a “historic transformation for Pacific Islands rugby.” The support package, which is pending New Zealand Rugby (NZR) board approval and key conditions being met, would deliver $2.1 million in a funding package for an initial three-year period to support two franchises, Fijian Drua, and Moana Pasifika. The plans, which would provide financial, high performance, and administrative support, would see the two franchises join Super Rugby from 2022, with both clubs also to be supported by their respective unions and private equity funding.

Company director behind Dunk Island tourism revitalisation plan hit with 20-year ban Ambitious plans to transform Mission Beach and Dunk Island in Far North Queensland appear to be over with Mayfair 101 company founder James Mawhinney banned from fundraising and advertising financial products for 20 years. Mawhinney, the driving force behind Mayfair 101’s purchase of Dunk Island and hundreds of properties at Mission Beach has been found to have engaged in what the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) said was “misleading and deceptive conduct”.

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More than 50,000 fans attend first-ever concert at Auckland’s Eden Park Eden Park’s recent hosting of its first ever concert and New Zealand’s largest live music event since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, saw a sold-out crowd of more than 50,000 fans watch SIX60 perform on 24th April.

80,000 people participate in 16th World Leisure Congress More than 80,000 people participated, through the online and offline modes, in the 16th World Leisure Congress, held at the Jinhai Lake International Convention and Exhibition Center in the Pinggu District of the Chinese capital of Beijing. With the theme of ‘Leisure Makes Life Better’, the Congress, held from 16th to 18th April, consisted of the opening ceremony, the main forum, 14 parallel sub-forums, the China (Beijing) International Leisure Industry Exposition, award ceremony, nine featured activities and the closing ceremony, which attracted over 110,000 visitors.

NSW Planning Minister to investigate alternatives to synthetic grass Campaigns by community groups objecting to synthetic grass installations at sportsfields has led NSW Minister for Planning and Public Spaces Rob Stokes to prompt his department to investigate sustainable alternatives to synthetic grass. Backed by reports in the Sydney Morning Herald, community groups in several parts of Sydney are objecting to local governments replacing natural grass sports fields with artificial turf playing surfaces. Critics say synthetic fields cause rubber and microplastics to leach into waterways; reduce the amenity for families and dog owners; potentially increase cancer risk through the chemicals used to make them; and cause unsustainably high temperatures near and on these fields on hot days.



Australasian Leisure Management Issue 144 13

20-year masterplan released for Perth Zoo Perth Zoo is set to build on its reputation as a leading wildlife attraction with the release of its future Masterplan Project. Announced on Endangered Species Day, the 20-year masterplan reveals developments including a new orangutan enclosure and expanded animal habitats with animal overhead tunnels. Backed by an investment of $43.5 million from the Western Australia Government, construction on the first stage of the redevelopments - a new café and function centre - will start before the end of 2021. Focusing on creating new animal habitats and improving the visitor experience, the masterplan includes a new conservation centre and plaza-style zoo entrance, as well as a treehouse and play area.

AALARA releases survey on Discretionary Mutual Fund Moving to address what it calls the “catastrophic consequences of a failing insurance market”, the Australian Amusement, Leisure and Recreation Association (AALARA) is calling on all of its members to complete an online survey on the issue. In a communication to members and stakeholders, AALARA General Manager, Kristy Ahrens advised “in an effort to overcome this issue, AALARA has entered into a partnership with Aon to establish an industry owned and operated discretionary mutual fund for the benefit of members. “Mutuals offer an alternative to the traditional insurance product and are well established in Australia having been established over the years to respond to areas of the market where insurance was becoming difficult to obtain or was cost prohibitive. Mutuals are successfully operated by local councils, international restaurant chains, universities and motor trades.”

Tenpin Bowling Australia looks to expansion Tenpin Bowling Australia has announced the signing of a significant MOU with the International Bowling Federation allowing the International Bowling Federation Academy (IBFA) to license access to their Bowl Patrol and Bowl Abilities programs for all international bowling Federations. Bowl Patrol is Australia’s introductory program developed based on research and evidence with support of Sport Australia. Qualified coaches deliver the eight-week program for six to 12-year olds in the unique surrounds of Tenpin Bowling centres across the country. Bowl Abilities is Australia’s introductory program for older teens and adults who have a disability.

Queensland campaign aims at attracting workers to regional tourism jobs With a critical shortage of staff for tourism businesses in regional parts of the state, the Queenland Government has launched ‘Work in Paradise’, a $7.5 million campaign aiming to encourage workers to move to take up a job in tourism. ‘Work in Paradise’ is the latest in a series of campaigns as part of the Queensland Government’s comprehensive plan for economic recovery - supporting tourism operators to rebuild and recover from the impacts of the Coronavirus pandemic.

United Nations passes first ever Resolution on Global Drowning Prevention The United Nations has passed its first ever Resolution on Global Drowning Prevention during the 75th session of the UN General Assembly. Brought to the United Nations by Ireland and Bangladesh, and co-sponsored by 79 countries including Australia, the Resolution recognised the seriousness of drowning as a public health issue especially in low- and middle-income countries.

Documentary explores conspiracy theories surrounding 1979 fire at Luna Park Sydney Save Victorian Events slams lack of support for business event sector Lobby group Save Victorian Events is undertaking an ongoing campaign highlighting the Victorian Government’s lack of support for the business events sector. Spokesperson Simon Thewlis advises “in a normal year in Victoria there are over 100,000 business events with a direct spend of more than $12 billion. “While events are starting again only about 10% of normal events are now happening. We have lost over three quarters of our industry’s technical talent. With similar losses of talent right across the industry. The job losses have been massive.” In March, a group of Victorian event industry suppliers and carnival ride operators used their vehicles to encircle the Victorian Parliament building protesting at the lack of support for those involved in community events. 14 Australasian Leisure Management Issue 144

News reports and a three-part ABC investigative documentary have explored the suspicions, conspiracies and rumours associated with the 1979 Ghost Train fire at Luna Park Sydney in which seven people died. EXPOSED: The Ghost Train investigated what NSW Police quickly wrote off as an accident caused by an electrical fault. However, the ABC’s returning investigative documentary series has investigated many aspects of what happened to the Luna Park ride 42 years ago, exposing serious questions about the incident. Following the documentary’s broadcast, NSW Police have resisted opening a new inquiry into the fire, although NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian has been reported as “considering” a new inquest.

New Quayclean brand identity offers clients and staff to Experience More Leading venue services company Quayclean Australia has unveiled a new brand identity designed to reflect the company’s growth and versatility as it enters a new, exciting era of tailored client services. The bold, clean, and vibrant brand marks a new chapter of development as the company moves towards a full range of expertise and skills highlighted in its new, emotive ‘Experience More’ tagline. The new brand identity has a range of versatile applications to reflect its suite of outdoor, digital, printed, social media and consumer assets.

Gippsland Regional Aquatic Centre relies on geothermally-heated water The newly opened Gippsland Regional Aquatic Centre (GRAC) in the Victorian city of Traralgon is innovating in using geothermally heated water in its swimming pool. The first project of its kind in Victoria, with the potential to usher in new geothermal opportunities for the state, groundwater used in the Centre, with a temperature of 670C is accessed via a 644 metre deep Burong Formation aquifer bore, with 100% injection into the same aquifer via a dedicated injection bore, 450 metres away. With the pools inside the facility constructed using Myrtha Pools technology, the Italian-based company’s experience with artesian and thermal water when used in facilities in other parts of the world, complemented the designers’ abilities in undertaking the project. The Centre consists of a 50 metre indoor swimming pool with a moveable boom, 25 metre outdoor pool, learn to swim pool, program pool with spa and a toddler pool.

Zoggs partners with ABC’s Kangaroo Beach to promote products and water safety Leading swimming products retailer Zoggs has announced a partnership with the new ABC animation series Kangaroo Beach to promote water safety. Launched in January, the child-oriented 26-part animated series on ABC Kids features the escapades of ‘joey Pounce’, a wannabe-hero lifeguard; ‘platypus Gemma’, a mini-marine biologist; ‘wombat Neville’, an expert sandcastle digger and ‘koala Frizzy’ a singing and dancing arboreal herbivorous marsupial as they train as junior cadets with their lifeguard heroes and keep the water safe at Kangaroo Beach. Already massively popular on ABC Kids, the show is seen as having the potential to follow in the wake of Bananas in Pyjamas, Bluey and Bondi Rescue, as an international success. Zoggs’ has launched an already extensive range of Kangaroo Beach products including branded goggles, water wing vests, back floats, arm bands, swim rings, swim caps, kick boards and swim bags.

ASPA Industry Census reports negative sentiment about impacts of COVID on Australian sport The Australian Sports Professionals Association (ASPA) has released the results of its second annual National Sports Census with results showing that through the most turbulent year in Australian sport, industry professionals felt more negatively about the direction of the industry in comparison to 2019. The 2020 National Sports Census saw a 320% increase in respondents from 2019, encompassing individuals from more than 52 types of sports, universities and government agencies and private companies. for all the latest industry news


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Australasian Leisure Management Issue 144 15

Brazilian surfer Filipe Toledo tests Wavegarden's The Cove technology. Credit: Wavegarden.

Making Waves Noel Dempsey and Nigel Benton assess the potential of destination surf parks


ssuming the Tokyo Games go ahead in July, surfing will be one of over 30 sports making its Olympic debut. The sport’s long-awaited arrival on the Olympic stage is widely seen as representing a massive opportunity to generate interest in surfing, with World Surf League Chief Executive, Erik Logan saying the potential is “historic”, representing “a truly transformative moment for surfing”. Of course, more interest in surfing means more participants, and with Australia already having 2.5 million surfers many popular breaks can regularly be crowded. While surfing doesn’t require infrastructure or the need to join a club (no entry fees are required!) being restricted to the coast and dependent on wave conditions has prompted a small number of entrepreneurs and innovators look to use technology to create perfect and consistent waves over the last decade or so. However, this has not been without challenges. While artificial wave rides like FlowRider stationary wave machines have proved relatively popular in waterparks, aquatic facilities and as standalone attractions, they have never truly become mainstream with Australia, perhaps surprisingly, never having more than half-a-dozen locations. Commenting on the adoption of the FlowRider concept, Paul Chutter, President of WhiteWater, the home to FlowRider stationary wave machines, stated “FlowRider attractions, although not a true surfing experience, exist for a reason and we are happy they do. “Maybe not as sought after in Australia, they do have a strong sport following around the globe, especially in areas without

16 Australasian Leisure Management Issue 144

access to surf. Sheet waves offer another chance for people to get outside and partake in a board sport experience like wake surfing, snowboarding, or skating, and it gives first timers an easy way to experience the unique exhilaration of standing up on a board.” In addition, surf creating artificial waves as pioneered by the now liquidated New Zealand-company ASR Limited proved unsuccessful – although reefs based around sunken vessels have proven a benefit for scuba divers. Emerging as a solution, lagoon-style wave pools and destination surf parks are seen as having the potential to not only broaden surfing participation but to be the centrepiece of tourism and real estate developments echoing the way golf courses have driven commercial and residential developments in past decades. Kelly Slater Wave Company 11-time world champion surfer Kelly Slater has said that wave pools will take surfing mainstream, ‘democratising’ a sport that has only ever been available, by and large, to those lucky enough to live close to the coast. Internationally, Slater’s own Kelly Slater’s Surf Ranch in California is perhaps the world’s best known facility. With Slater’s wave generating technology now majorityowned by the World Surf League, the venue has already hosted WSL sanctioned events and is a regular stop on the pro tour. With only seven other publicly accessible artificial wave pools in the world, Coolum on the Sunshine Coast has been advanced as a potential location for the first Kelly Slater attraction outside of the USA.

URBNSURF Melbourne uses Wavegarden technology.

Wavegarden Among operating facilities, URBNSURF surfing lagoon in the Melbourne suburb of Tullarmarine is the first (and currently only) facility of its kind in Australia. Opened in January 2020, the $40 million fully functioning surf park produces beautifully shaped rideable waves, all day long, with 18 different wave settings varying in size from knee-high to well overhead, every aspect of which - size, shape, power and frequency - can be adjusted at the push of a button, to suit surfers of all abilities. Using Wavegarden technology pioneered in Spain’s Basque region - with right-handers breaking on one side of the pool and left-handers on the other, with the two sides separated by a long pier - URBNSURF Melbourne is the first of several facilities of its type planned across Australia. As URBNSURF founder and then Director Andrew Ross, who remains a major shareholder in the company, explained in 2014 the attraction set out “to completely change people’s views about what is possible with a wave pool.” Ross, now a Partner with Aventuur, a US-based leisure developer, later advised “the best part about the Wavegarden technology is that it can cater for everyone across a range of surfing abilities - from those just learning, right through to elite athletes and their high performance training needs.” URBNSURF’s other planned locations have included a site on Perth’s Swan River (currently in hiatus as a result of planning disputes) and at Sydney Olympic Park (for which renders have recently been released), which is scheduled to open in the summer of 2022/23. Surf Lakes Australia also has another working artificial wave lagoon on Queensland’s Capricorn Coast. Operational since 2018, Surf Lakes Yeppoon has been a testing ground for Surf Lakes International’s artificial wave generating technology - which produces concentric waves generated by a gigantic plunger at the centre of the lake. Having tested the technology, the team behind Surf Lakes Yeppoon are looking to expand their prototype into a year-round resort and visitor attraction with a $187 million development proposal. Concept for Surf Lakes International’s wave lagoon at the heart of a residential development.

Australasian Leisure Management Issue 144 17

Operational since 2018, Surf Lakes Yeppoon has been a testing ground for Surf Lakes International’s artificial wave generating technology.

Seeking investors to back the installation of the technology at locations around the world, the company is now looking to make its prototype the centrepiece of a new outdoor recreational and active tourism hub. Located near Mount Jim Crow between Yeppoon and Rockhampton, the $122 million first stage of the Surf Lakes Holdings’ proposed project would include a skate park, scuba hole, overflow lake, junior playground, solar farm and tourist park with 52 cabins and 60 camp sites.

Pico Play is a global leader in leisure and entertainment solutions delivering outstanding guest experiences across theme parks, water parks, surf parks, family entertainment centres, zoos and nature parks, aquariums and marine parks and public brand activations. From business feasibility studies and concept planning to handover and operations management, there are countless steps involved in bringing a surf park to fruition. Pico Play investigates additional revenue opportunities – from food and beverage and retail merchandise to recreational access and ancillary experiences – to entice guests to extend their stay and increase their spend. Pico Play’s demonstrated success in delivering leisure and entertainment attractions, including water parks and theme parks, provides exceptional insight into those elements. Pico Play Director, Darren McLean reveals “the technology needs to be robust, the water quality must meet health guidelines at all times and consistent additional revenue streams must be solidified before a surf park can even think of welcoming its first customers.” A full range of design services, comprehensive modelling and spreadsheets and an intuitive understanding of branding, theming and experience is needed to ensure surf parks capture a broad cross-section of customers. 18 Australasian Leisure Management Issue 144

Strategies for Success Sharing his insights on strategies for delivering successful artificial wave attractions and related surf park solutions, Darren McLean, Director of leading guest experiences consultancy Pico Play, advises “whether it’s a destination surf park, integrated into a resort, a residential anchor or a new theme park attraction, we are drawn to the concept of creating waves in unusual places. “Pico Play is working on an inland surf park project in Asia, bringing a premium surfing experience to a region without any natural waves. “On the flipside, we’re also working with Parkwood Village on the Gold Coast, arguably the world’s best surfing destination, because there is a strong existing demand for safe and consistent waves.” McLean is mindful that surf parks must navigate a swell of business feasibility studies, market and customer research, concept and technology evaluation, master planning, investment prospectus, project delivery and operational management before anyone could catch a wave. He explains “the reason Pico Play exists is to deliver fun and adventure for people across the globe and planning, designing, developing and constructing surf parks is a wonderful expression of what is in our core DNA. “There is so much to consider across every aspect of operating an attraction and with surf park projects underway in Asia, Australia, USA and Europe, Pico Play is in the best position to provide a total solution and deliver outstanding guest experiences.” One of these projects is a proposed surf park development at The Club at Parkwood Village on the Gold Coast where Pico Play have provided business advisory and feasibility services. With the project currently being reviewed by Gold Coast City Council, Parkwood Village Managing Director, Luke Altschwager said he hopes to receive approval by year’s end with construction to begin in 2022 and the first waves to roll in by late-2023. Altschwager commented “Pico Play has great experience at an international level across attractions and theme parks so with

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Endless Surf technology is planned for Melbourne’s Surf n Play Aqua Park. Credit: Pellicano.

the surf park industry being so new, we wanted someone looking at our project through a wider lens than just surf. “Pico Play is not a traditional design or consulting firm, they have a clear operational history and practical boots-on-theground operating experience. “They understand the leisure and entertainment business and they have passionate surfers on their consultancy team so they get the surf sector. “Having a consulting firm that is holistic in nature and can look at all the commercial opportunities for our surf park is really helpful.” McLean sees that success will come from understanding customer segments and their needs and developing a surf park model to meet each market, whether they surfed or not, noting “a lot of money goes in to building and operating a surf park and while surf sessions are the primary product, without additional revenues streams, the business won’t succeed.” Endless Surf The inland surf pool technology to be used at The Club at Parkwood Village will be WhiteWater’s new Endless Surf concept. With WhiteWater having made its first surf pool at Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon Water Park in Florida, USA in 1989, Endless Surf features a scalable in size heart-shaped pool with a width of up to 300-metres that can provide a surf ride of up to 26 seconds. Backed by patent protected proprietary programming, accessed through its Wave Doctor interface, Endless Surf can run multiple wave types at one time so that beginners, intermediates, and experts can surf alongside each other, providing huge operational flexibility. The Club is among six Endless Surf projects officially announced around the world, including the Surf n’ Play Melbourne development.

Commenting on the The Club development, Paul Chutter, also the founder of Endless Surf, advises “the Gold Coast knows surf and surfers will want the most advanced techdriven surf experience that can accompany their sessions in the ocean. “Endless Surf provides just that, with unlimited wave creation potential and the most authentic aesthetic that will surround the action. Parkwood Village has major plans to create a vibrant community hub, surrounding surf, golf, relaxation, and lifestyle, and we are incredibly excited about the collaborative efforts coming to life from all parties.” Sustainability, fun and adventure Surfers respect the planet and want to engage with an attraction that is considerate of its long-term environmental impact and operates ethically. A smart approach to sustainability can also offer financial savings for surf park operators. McLean added “the key to an attraction’s success is not only about making money on busy days, but not losing money on low attendance days.” Mapping power consumption, harnessing solar power and programming waves for maximum efficiency across low, mid and high attendance days can all reduce power costs and energy footprints. McLean adds “beyond the ‘wave’ is a need to create a total environment for your surfers and customers. “Creating fun is at the heart of what we do and that is reflected in our approach to delivering surf parks.” Away from these shores, Wavegarden attractions are operational in four locations (Switzerland, South Korea and two in the United Kingdom) while an American Wave Machines’ PerfectSwell artificial wave pool technology has been used at the soon to open Surf Stadium Shizunami in Japan. With Global Industry Analysts estimating that the surf market will be worth US$9.5 billion as of next year, the potential is huge. Nigel Benton is Publisher at Australasian Leisure Management. Noel Dempsey is Business Director at Pico Play.

WhiteWater’s new Endless Surf concept at the heart of a resort.

PerfectSwell technology has been used at the soon to open Surf Stadium Japan.

URBNSURF Melbourne. Credit: URBNSURF/Ed Sloane.

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Anti Wave Starting Blocks in use at the 2017 Summer Universiade in Taiwan.

Australia’s Anti Wave marks 50 years of aquatic innovation 2021 is a significant year for top aquatic equipment supplier Anti Wave International, marking 50 years since company founder, Anti Kajlich, designed and patented a Water Polo Goal (the Anti Goal), that would then be selected for competition at the 1972 Olympics in Munich. An accomplished water polo family, both Anti and son Anton represented their respective countries as water polo goalies. Founder Anti Kajlich played water polo as goalie for Czechoslovakia as a young man, until defecting from the Communist regime for the United States in 1967, where he studied Chemical Engineering at University of California Berkley, gaining a sports scholarship, going on to be selected for the ‘All American’ Team as Goalie in 1967. Anti then worked as a Chemical Engineer from 1968 to 1971, continuing to play and coach various teams. Drawing on his engineering experience, while playing Goalie in US Polo competitions, Anti Kajlich saw a market for the production of polo goals, and produced in his garage what became the Munich 1972 Olympic model of the Anti Goal. In the subsequent 50 years, Anti Wave has become one of the world’s top aquatic equipment designers and innovators, with Anti Wave equipment exported to over 150 countries since 1972. Today, Anti continues to play FINA Masters 70+ Polo and was part of the team that won the Gold Medal in Montreal in 2014. Anti’s son Anton Kajlich, General Manager of Anti Wave, followed in his father’s footsteps as a national polo player, selected for the Australian junior team, also as a goalie. He comments “the Anti Wave story and company history is based on continual innovation and product development. “We continue to extend both our product range and innovations, and also our increased product availability and 22 Australasian Leisure Management Issue 144

distribution around the world, for all clubs and pools to enjoy. “The Anti Goal, available today as the Anti Pro Goal and SNR/JNR Folding Goal models, has undergone continual updates and improvements since its development. “The Anti Pro Goal was recently selected for FINA World Cup events, Commonwealth Games facility, South East Asian Games competition and training facilities, and other top national and international events and facilities.” Apart from top national and international facilities, the Anti and SNR/JNR Goals can also be found installed at top school and club water polo facilities across Australia and around the world. To date the Anti Goal is the longest and best-selling water polo goal in the world, exported to over 70 countries since 1972. Anti Wave’s product range and innovation also sees it as one of the world’s largest makers, and key innovators of swimming racing lanes, polo goals and starting blocks, and also providing a wide range of innovative pool deck, pool management and pool programming products. The new 2021 Global Anti Goal The Brisbane-based family company continues its long history of aquatics and polo innovation, with its 2021 release of the Global Anti Goal (GAG). The latest goal in the Anti Wave series is the innovative FINA-compliant Global Anti Goal (GAG), as installed at Brisbane’s Yeronga Park Memorial Swimming Pool.

POOL ACCESS EQUIPMENT The Anti Goal is the best-selling water polo goal in the world.

Tested for over two years by top teams at the water polostrong pool facility, the innovative and advanced design is, according to Anti “the culmination of 50 years of water polo goals knowledge, with every part and every detail invested with careful attention.” The Global Anti Goal is a full sized competition and training polo goal designed and produced in Australia, with Premium materials, construction and components. Weighing just 25kg this folding/floating goal can easily be moved in and out of the water by one or two persons, and its game-changing functional design will not damage pool tiling, as do many current popular Goal models available. Its light weight has also made the goal easy to air courier door-to-pool from Anti Wave’s Brisbane factory direct to customers, with the goals now exported to Slovakia, Iceland, Colorado and the Team USA Olympic squad. Nicola Johnson, FINA Polo Referee (Tokyo Olympic Referee 2020), said of the new goal “the new Global Anti Goal is the best goal I have seen in over 30 years of water polo, it is light weight - one person can put the goal in and out of the pool, it is very durable and I love the training rod along the back of the goal that allows for balls to be stored in the back of the net during training sessions, this is such a great inclusion, so easy for the GK to reach for a ball when needed.” John Whitehouse, Honorary Secretary of FINA Water Polo Technical Committee from 1996 to 2017, also noted “well done team Anti Wave! I don’t know why I would expect anything else!”

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Mack Horton swims within Anti Wave lane ropes at the 2018 Commonwealth Games.

New Ultimate Swimming Lane Another recent innovation - the Ultimate Swimming Lane – is a swimmer friendly, high floating and unbreakable lane rope made from advanced high density structural foam. The Ultimate Swimming Lane has a ‘soft-touch’ finish, which makes it appealing for training and learn to swim facilities as well as general aquatics lane division and use. After extensive testing under Australia’s sun since 2018, the swim lane is currently installed at Yeronga Park Memorial Swimming Pool, where it has successfully undergone testing for the last 18 months.

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Anti Wave has been a longstanding partner with FINA (above), Anti Goals as used at the 2019 SEA Games in The Philippines (right) and the Brisbane company’s Backstroke Start Ledges (below left and right).

New Backstroke Start Ledges With the ball absorption capabilities of its water polo goals patented in 1971, their Starting Blocks - Moveable Track Start System, patented in 2002, and the wave calming technology of its Anti Wave MAXI and MIDI Swimming Racing Lanes, patented in 1976 and 2001, Anti Wave continues to innovate, with a patent for its recently developed Backstroke Start Ledge pending as of 2020. Anti Wave innovated and developed the world’s first Moveable Track Start Starting Block system, included in their 2008 Premium SuperBlock 800 model, used in top international swimming competitions in the same year. Having pioneered high performance Moveable Track Start systems for Starting Blocks, Anti Wave’s investment in research and development over recent years has also seen it launch a range of new Backstroke Start Ledges. Providing a range of durable and easy to use adjustable ledges for swimmers to undertake performance backstroke

starts in both training and competition, two Backstroke Start Ledge models are now available, each with a different block attachment system: • The Track Start Ledge model attaches to the rear of the Track Start Wedge via secure 3M Fastener, and the height of the ledge in the water is easily adjusted, as per FINA Regulations, by movement of the position of the Track Start Wedge on the blocks. • The Backstroke Handle model, suitable for most blocks, is fixed onto the front of the Backstroke Handles, and the height of the Ledge in the water is adjusted by a durable and easy to use Marine Stayput system with three possible height positions as per current FINA regulations.

24 Australasian Leisure Management Issue 144

Made in Brisbane, the Ledges have already been shipped to 10 countries, and used at top international events (including the FINA World Cup Singapore 2019). Commenting on the ongoing innovation, Anti Kajlich added “the Munich 1972 Olympics was the most important water polo event for the Anti Wave brand. “The water polo goals selected for Munich Olympics, which I had patented in 1971, included a difficult to design floating sport structure. “And decades later our goals were among the products that we used to fully furnish pool deck at the then Sydney Olympic Aquatic Centre for the 2000 Games and then at Beijing’s Water Cube for the 2008 Olympics.” Innovation and Global Availability Anti Wave continues a long and rich tradition of aquatics innovation and product development with the 2021 Release of the Global Anti Goal, the Ultimate Swimming Lane, and their Backstroke Start Ledge ranges. Anti Wave equipment is distributed around the world to over 150 countries, via an extensive network of licensees and resellers. Anti Wave International products are distributed in Australia by S.R.Smith Australia.

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Social Value of Sport Ron Zubrik, Chad Gardiner and Miranda Murray-Douglass of KPMG Sports Advisory highlight key considerations associated with determining the non-economic benefits of sport and active recreation


rant applications, business case guidelines and other requests for government funding are making increasing references to social impact, social benefit or social value. But what does this mean? Usually when we talk about social benefits we are talking about a diverse range of positive impacts which accrue to people, places and communities (rather than the economy). These might represent benefits to individuals, an improvement in the way that communities function or in society-wide outcomes and health or environmental benefits. Policy makers at every level want to invest in projects and programs which will make a real impact and do more for less. Understanding what drives these benefits is increasingly influencing decision making at every level of government. The COVID-19 pandemic and the impacts it has had on our physical and mental health has brought the need for investment in social connection into even sharper focus and sport and active recreation should be a part of any government’s social reactivation agenda. The ability of sport and active recreation to drive a number of positive social outcomes has long been assumed and is increasingly supported by literature. However, until recently, the inability to measure these outcomes has meant they are

often not given the same level of consideration as economic benefits. If sports projects want to be competitive, improving the robustness of the measurement of these outcomes is vital as sports projects (particularly at a community level) often struggle when compared with projects in sectors such as transport or health on an economic basis alone. The KPMG Sports Advisory team has worked with both Commonwealth and state governments to develop methodologies to ensure these important benefits are part of funding decision making and to change the narrative around sport and sports infrastructure from one of ‘cost’ to one of ‘investment’. What are the social benefits of sport? In 2018, KPMG was engaged by Sport Australia to quantify the economic, social and health benefits of community sport infrastructure. We have built on this work as research has progressed and to refine our analysis for different geographic contexts and have been able to quantify the impacts of: •Reduced risk of chronic disease, dementia and falls •Improved mental health and wellbeing and volunteering benefits •Improved education and employment outcomes There are numerous other benefits which are supported by a strong evidence base but which will require further research to quantify, including: •Increased levels of trust •Reduced anti-social behaviour •Increased social connectedness and inclusion •Urban renewal •Increased community pride and identity creation The measurement of social value While approaches need to be adapted to the level at which outcomes are being measured, there are some broad principles

26 Australasian Leisure Management Issue 144

and considerations which ensure robust and evidence-based measurement of social value. 1.Understand drivers (i.e. understand what is driving the benefits that you are looking to measure to ensure you choose an appropriate quantification method to avoid common pitfalls like double counting). 2.Quantification methodologies: while quantification methodologies for social benefits need to be developed on a benefit-by-benefit basis taking into account available data and research, there are some key considerations which should inform the selection of an appropriate approach. •Assess the quality and applicability of evidence available (i.e. look for peer reviewed evidence where possible and make sure it is applicable to the population group you are looking to apply it to. •Identify the right parameters (e.g. estimating an incremental and quantifiable benefit factor through a literature review - like a reduction in the risk of breast cancer due to physical activity – which can then be applied to the appropriate population. •Determine an appropriate mechanism to monetise the measurement (e.g. measuring government or private savings that result from the benefit or drawing on existing quantification methodologies like the Value of a Statistical Life Year). 3.Tailoring measurement approaches: Measurement approaches should reflect the context in which outcomes are being measured. As stated above, different levels of measurement require modifications to quantification methodologies taking into account the applicability of the evidence collected and the data available. Other methodological considerations Some of the additional key methodological considerations include: •Avoiding double counting (i.e. making sure the same benefit isn’t measured multiple times across multiple beneficiaries); •Ensuring consistency in measurement across benefits so they can be aggregated. Going forward Why do we need to get better at articulating these benefits? While we will never be able to truly measure and quantify all of the benefits of sport and active recreation, ascribing monetary values to these benefits where possible will help get sport projects on a level playing field with projects from other sectors with more established measurement methodologies. Moreover, there are a range of other positive outcomes of having a better understanding of these benefits and the drivers that underpin them. Some of these are outlined below: •Better collaboration within and across government(s): The benefits of sport are far reaching with many highly aligned with the objectives of other government portfolios such as health, human services, education and transport. By understanding and providing an evidence base for these benefits, the sports and recreation portfolios at all levels of government can have more informed intra- and intergovernmental conversations and look for opportunities to collaborate to drive positive social outcomes on a larger scale. •Better prioritisation of projects: Understanding the quantum of benefits through comparable and consistent measurement may help in more effectively prioritising the projects and programs which will drive the best outcomes. •Learning from evaluation of past projects: These measurements can be built into more holistic evaluations of projects and programs to provide an additional layer of quantitative information which can assist with project / program design and the direction of funding towards programs which achieve maximum benefits.

Action from the Manly Warringah FA Men’s Premier League in NSW.

How can we get better at articulating these benefits? Aside from developing robust quantification methodologies, there are a number of other improvements government and the sport and active recreation sector can make to better articulate social value. These include: •Better data collection (e.g. participation data) that is focussed on social outcomes •Reporting and evaluation using consistent and robust frameworks •Ongoing investment into research and the study of these outcomes Who has a role to play in moving this work forward? The simple answer is everyone. All sector stakeholders can benefit from a better understanding of what drives social value, whether it is to fund the best programs or make sure they have a strong case for funding. Moreover, all stakeholders have a role to play in building the tools and datasets to allow the better articulation of this value. KPMG has worked with a number of different entities to help them measure the social value generated by particular projects and programs, sporting infrastructure and sport and active recreation more generally. These have included Commonwealth, state and local governments as well as sector peak bodies. Social value can be demonstrated across the entire sport and active recreation spectrum: • Across the whole of sport • By program • By project • By Local Government Area • By State / Territory at a national level • By National Sporting Organisation • By State Sporting Organisation • By club • By facility Ron Zubrik is Partner at KPMG Management Consulting, Chad Gardiner is Director at KPMG Australia and Miranda Murray-Douglass is Manager at KPMG Australia. Basketball at the Merredin Regional Community and Leisure Centre in Western Australia.

Australasian Leisure Management Issue 144 27

The Return of the Royal Easter Show The 2021 Sydney Royal Easter Show has been the biggest ticketed event in the world in 2021. Karen Sweaney looks at its success


he gates have officially closed, the rides are back on the road and the animals and farmers have returned home, with the Royal Agricultural Society of NSW (RAS) having revealed remarkable attendance levels for the 2021 Sydney Royal Easter Show, welcoming 800,000 people to the event over its 12 days - becoming the largest event to take place globally since the COVID-19 pandemic. Held from 1st to 12th April, the Show broke five attendance records since its relocation to Sydney Olympic Park, while successfully delivering a COVIDSafe event with the daily capacity limits dispersing crowds and ultimately creating history through higher mid-week attendance. RAS General Manager Agriculture and the Show, Murray Wilton, said following an incredibly tough year for all Australians, the Show was an incredible success, commenting “the Show has provided an opportunity for our farmers and Sydneysiders to come together safely and celebrate everything we know and love about rural Australia: farmers, food and family fun.” Initially capped at 60,000 attendees per day, as of 9th April, NSW Health approved an additional 10,000 general admission ticket holders for its second weekend based on the RAS’ success in delivering a COVIDSafe show over the previous nine days. In a statement welcoming this, released during the Show, Wilton advised “we are delighted to provide more patrons with the opportunity to come to the Show over its last weekend. “Following the cancellation of the Show in 2020, there is 28 Australasian Leisure Management Issue 144

massive interest and affection for the Show, and we want to give as many people as possible, in a COVIDSafe manner, the opportunity to experience what only the Sydney Royal Easter Show can offer.” The Show’s COVIDSafe practices, included more than 180 cleaning staff and 130 hygiene personnel onsite and encouraged patrons to utilise the Show crowd management system to take control of their journey at the Show via the Show app. Planned at short notice with the event only being given approval to be staged in December last year, the attendance figures - which included ticket holders, agricultural and commercial exhibitors, staff, volunteers and others working at the Show - demonstrated, Wilton explained “this year’s Show

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has been a major success and has shown the amazing work rural communities are capable of. “We’re incredibly proud of the competitors and exhibitors for the talent and professionalism they have shown throughout the show period and we hope to see everyone again next year.” Among other successes, the Big Bush BBQ raised over $30,000 for the 12 local show societies that manned the stand over the Show period while the RAS Foundation, through sales of its popular ‘Ag Bag’, raffle of donated hay and sale of the RAS ribbon rugs, raised $120,000 which will be directed back to regional communities. The Rural Students’ Café also provided students from around NSW with the opportunity to develop hospitality skills and fundraise. The students worked incredibly hard and sold over 2,800 coffees and teas, 3,000 ice teas and 1,800 tasting plates for their school programs. In addition, the Show continued its tradition of providing memorable opportunities and educational experiences for all ages. Little Hands on the Land, a child-sized working farm, welcomed more than 40,000 children through its gates.

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Other achievements saw a 20% reduction in the Show’s operating costs by the RAS while, overall, its successful staging is seen as giving confidence to the events sector that large events can operate in a COVIDSafe environment. In an ever-changing COVID influenced environment, when RAS Chief Operating Officer, Darryl Jeffrey sat down with NSW Health last year to discuss the likelihood of going ahead with the event he was surprised by how supportive the department was. Jeffrey explained “at that stage, the most they had approved was 50,000 for the NRL Grand Final, and we essentially wanted to run the largest attended event in the world.” Weighing up options and mindful of the implications if a sudden COVID outbreak immediately before the Show had meant the 2021 edition was cancelled, as the RAS could not secure pandemic insurance (the case for virtually every other event in the world), Jeffrey noted “we lost millions of dollars last year. We knew we were going to lose money again on this year’s show, but we thought we needed to do it again. “We didn’t want to see two years of not having the Easter Show.” Putting an extensive range of COVIDSafe measures in place as of late March, NSW Health approved the Show hosting up to 60,000 ticket holders on site each day – with the cap later raised 70,000 for the final weekend as of 9th April. Welcoming the increase in Show numbers, Sydney Royal Easter Show General Manager, Murray Wilton stated “we have been working closely with NSW Health for the past six months to develop our plans and have invested significantly in infrastructure, equipment and systems to help protect the health and safety of all patrons, exhibitors, staff and competitors who attend the Show.” For showgoers, tickets had to be purchased online before the Show, with ‘early bird’ tickets costing $38 for adults and $23 for children if purchased prior to 1st April. On site, innovations from technology advisory and investment company PMY Group - which has developed systems for more than 200 venues and major events across 14 countries - was used to control the number of people within venues. Expanding a 10-year partnership between the RAS and the Sydney-based PMY Group first agreed in late 2019, 74 cameras were mounted across the site, including at entry and exit areas to the Sydney Showgrounds’ pavilions to count people in and out. The system tracks body mass with traffic lights at the entry

Scenes from the 2021 Sydney Royal Easter Show including Quayclean’s event team (left).

indicating when venues are getting close to COVID capacity. Overall, with Showground events staff integrated in the Royal Easter Show team, preparations involved an additional $1.53 million investment in safety, social distancing and hygiene measures across its 40 hectare site. With hygiene staff specifically committed to COVID hygiene, 62 COVID marshals focused on social distancing and 50 hand sanitiser sites across the Showground in addition to extensive handwash stations in place for bio security while all operators and outlets also provided hand sanitiser. Quayclean was responsible for cleaning, waste management, hygiene, disinfection, and decontamination services, with Quayclean Australia Chief Executive, Mark Piwkowski advising

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32 Australasian Leisure Management Issue 144

after the event that “the organisers have already acknowledged that the Show has never been as clean (which) was awesome feedback for the dedication shown by all members of the team.” Capacity measures and the need to enforce social distancing saw some attractions, as well as rides on Sideshow Alley, spaced a little further apart than in previous years. While the insurance crisis did see a small number of prominent thrill rides of past years not at the Show, Sideshow Alley hosted 60 rides while the food court’s 100 outlets reported a 23% rise in food sold. Among ride operators, Chippa Chant of Chants Amusements said this year was “the best Sydney show we’ve ever worked.” Chant added “our industry’s done it very tough due to COVID-19. We were one of the first industries to be shut down, and one of the last industries to be let open back up.” With 1.914 million unique ride experiences delivered during the Show, the consumption of ride coupons saw the millions of coupons usually ordered for the carnival proving inadequate. An additional coupon order exhausted all paper stock, with 1.5 million coupons having to be recycled and repackaged after their daily weighing - the system by which monies are allocated and returned to ride operators to keep the rides spinning. The pooling of Show and Showground staff also provided a valuable team integration exercise allowing staff to experience new roles while further reducing operating costs. The Brisbane outbreak of COVID-19 just two days before the start of the Easter Show was a significant threat and with NSW Health shutting down Bluesfest in Byron Bay just before the Easter weekend, the RAS was prepared to take advice from the agency if the risk was deemed too great. Advising that there were some sleepless nights as that outbreak unfolded Jeffrey recalls “(as) it crept down to Byron … we started to think, is this going to hit on day two or three of the Easter Show?” “We sent an email to every single person who had bought an Easter Show ticket reminding them of their obligations.” As things eventuated, the Show went on to be the biggest ticketed event in the world in 2021. Karen Sweaney is Editor of Australasian Leisure Management.



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Hitting the Target Joeri Nanov shares key tips on growing your fitness business Joeri Nanov. Credit: Virtuagym.


he fitness industry has been transformed over the last 12 months. Digital technology and software has taken centre stage to help fitness businesses survive, and in many cases thrive, through one of the most challenging periods the industry has ever experienced. Due to this digitisation, the confines of physical gyms are no more. Fitness providers can now connect with their clients at any time, in any place. Those wanting to stay healthy now have more flexibility in tailoring plans to their needs, from the wealth of options available at their digital fingertips. And if the nature of fitness businesses has changed, so have the ways in which owners can grow them. After the past year, you might assume that growing a fitness enterprise has become a more daunting prospect. However, fitness technology and the changing attitudes and desires of consumers have created opportunities to help operators engage and appeal to clients and open-up new revenue streams. Here are some of the key ways to help take your fitness business to the next level. Embrace a hybrid offering The silver lining to be found from the closures of the past year is that both fitness enterprises and customers realised the range of digital content that they can respectively provide and consume. And, even as gyms finally reopen for good, many of the latter will be looking for those diverse and flexible experiences as part of their gym membership. It is therefore important for those building a fitness business to understand that the pivot to hybrid fitness offering, combining the physical and the digital, is not temporary. It is here to stay.

36 Australasian Leisure Management Issue 144

To appeal to new members and retain existing ones, owners should look to show that their brand offers more than just a space with fitness equipment. Through a hybrid offer, you can provide members with a place to work on their mental strength, the opportunity to try out new workouts, a means to track training and nutrition and a way to be connected within a wider gym community. For example, at Virtuagym we have launched PRO+, a digital membership that offers more than 1,000 workout videos as well as features such as a library of audio meditations. The use of fitness technology is now a longterm investment for your business.

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Choose the right gym management software If you have a checklist of things to do for your growing fitness business, then ensuring you have the right gym management technology should be right near the top. Having good back-end business processes, from payments to scheduling, coaching and member management, enables your enterprise to be more time and cost efficient and contributes towards delivering a stronger front-end client experience. The gym management software now available makes handling many spinning plates a whole lot easier. For example, member and check-in management software offers clients greater flexibility and is another crucial communication touchpoint as you look to keep them engaged. The right management software also contributes towards the active community building that is imperative for the modern-day gym, such as by using a customer-facing mobile app to share news, challenges and promotions, offer times for classes, answer questions and start conversations. Use your data As a gym owner, digitising your offering is also wise as it provides the opportunity to securely collect data from your clients. This can be utilised to understand their behaviour and preferences and therefore provide the tailored, personalised fitness experience that end-users are seeking. It further helps with informing the means and timing of your communication strategies, including possible digital promotions. In a time of such uncertainty, being able to be flexible with

38 Australasian Leisure Management Issue 144

your business strategy is an invaluable position to be in. Having the right front and back-end technology in place means you can keep an eye on your data insights to judge what is driving results and what needs to be improved. You only have to look at some of the brands currently thriving in our industry to also appreciate the benefits of embracing wearable technology too. Fitness consumers are enjoying fitness tracking, group competition and a sense of community more than ever before wearables give you that, plus even more useful data insight. Think retention, not just extension With so many ways to connect with potential customers it is easy to become focused purely on bringing in new members and business. Yet to sustainably grow revenue do not lose sight of those you already have - the digital democratisation of the fitness industry can work both ways, with users happy to look elsewhere if they do not feel engaged. Building brand loyalty is not a walk in the park but can be aided by software solutions such as retention planners, which allow owners to spot those members at risk of churn before it’s too late and therefore connect with them through suitable personal outreach. Investing in a customer-facing app also isn’t simply about expanding your offering but a key means to interact with your customers. To keep your brand at the forefront of their minds when they think about their fitness and health and to engender a sense of belonging to a club. The building blocks for this should be laid from the very start via a strong onboarding process. Define your unique selling propositions Finally, defining your monetisable online and offline offerings early on will help you hone in on how you can best demonstrate value to your clients while making money. With the rise of digital, we may find more and more fitness operators trying and struggling to offer everything to everyone - a jack of all trades but a master of none. The more advisable approach is to work out what your key areas are and who they are targeted for. For example, if you want to tap in to the group exercise market then emphasise your outdoor boot camps or virtual livestream classes, or if you are a small studio it could be your personalised 1-to-1 training services and workout equipment. As well as being clear on what members can pay for, it’s also useful to be transparent about how they can actually pay. Having a clear, simple and flexible payment structure is not only appealing for potential clients in a convoluted market but ideal for gym owners looking to upsell and cross-sell packages to existing ones. Turning to payment management software again ensures that this can be done more efficiently and effectively. Your ability to define, build, market and then sell your offerings will ultimately determine your success. Joeri Nanov is Vice-President Marketing at cloudbased membership management and coaching platform Virtuagym.






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Outdoor pool lifeguard at the Armadale Fitness and Aquatic Centre.

How Many People do we Need? Michael Butson, Dr John Tower and Dr Eric Schwarz assess lifeguard recruitment and turnover in aquatic and recreation centres


mployee turnover is the loss of talent in the workforce. High employee turnover is often expensive and disruptive for the aquatics industry. The aquatics industry in Australia and internationally has been described as in a crisis, experiencing unprecedented levels of turnover among pool lifeguards and swim instructors. Studies across numerous industries have determined that effective human resource management (HRM), including the recruitment and selection processes, can positively impact an organisation’s overall performance, including reducing employee turnover. While research into HRM continues to be popular, little exists that explains the HRM process in the aquatics industry. A pre-COVID-19 study that we conducted sought to explain the current recruitment process and identify reasons for lifeguard turnover from the perspective of aquatic and recreation centre managers.

Forecasting involves estimating the size and structure of the workforce required to meet an aquatic and recreation centre’s objectives and goals. Effective forecasting will identify several key concepts, including predictability and ability to accommodate lifeguard turnover, the appropriateness of fulltime, part-time, and casual lifeguards, and manage annual or recurring fluctuations in staffing (such as operating seasonal facilities). With facility managers traditionally not having documented a formal forecasting procedure for the recruitment of lifeguards, current practise is similar to ‘best guess forecasting’ - relying on management judgement and opinion. Information on the requirements and demand for lifeguards is collected from line managers and collated for an overall prediction. In combination with best guess forecasting, aquatic and recreation centre managers could also consider documenting historical ratios. Historical ratios (e.g., time to fill position analysis, cost per

The eight steps in the recruitment and selection process (Chelladurai & Kerwin, 2018; Taylor et al., 2015)

40 Australasian Leisure Management Issue 144






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Lifeguard at Adventure World Geelong.

recruitment analysis and turnover rate) will capture trends in an organisation’s demand for lifeguards. Following the forecasting process, aquatic and recreation centre C managers should consider the job analysis. Job analysis is the specification of the duties (e.g., supervise swimming activities) to be performed by lifeguards and the knowledge, skills, and abilities required for successful job performance. Typically, this information can be gathered from one or a combination of the following sources: •Lifeguards, through observation and interviews •Immediate managers (e.g., operations managers/ coordinators) •Aquatic industry specialists •Members and guests (feedback systems) •Previous job analyses Aquatic and recreation centres have not previously engaged in a traditional job analysis during the recruitment and selection process of lifeguards. Instead, managers often benchmarked and compared with other facilities in their geographic area. Managers considered this appropriate as they explained that lifeguards’ roles and responsibilities are consistent and do not change from one centre to the next. The job description is the recruitment document that describes the general tasks, roles, responsibilities, and requirements of the lifeguard position. The aquatics industry preferences generic lifeguard job descriptions often used across two or more facilities. Job descriptions were created and distributed from a central location in a top-down management approach. The job description document contains the job specification details. The job specification section outlines the human qualities needed to carry out the lifeguard job successfully (e.g., personal attributes, experience, training and education, physical requirements, and mental demands). When centre managers were asked what specifications were necessary during the recruitment process, only half indicated that previous lifeguarding experience was a requirement for recruitment. To be considered appropriate for a lifeguard position, managers explained that potential candidates must demonstrate effective communication, the ability to reason, problem-solve and resolve conflict. Managers did not often consider the physical 42 Australasian Leisure Management Issue 144

requirements (i.e., the timed 200 metre swim) essential during the recruitment and selection process. Recruitment documents (the job description and the job advertisement material) should present a realistic job preview (RJP). A RJP indicates both the positive and negative aspects of the lifeguard position. A RJP assists in shaping a candidate’s expectations of the role to better match the reality of the lifeguard position. Employer branding is the term used to describe the reputation of an employer. Promotion refers to the incentive’s employers create to attract lifeguard candidates. Two fundamental functions of employer branding and promotion are improving lifeguard recruitment and retaining the existing lifeguard workforce. Council/Government aquatic and recreation centres have the advantage of being an employer of choice for most lifeguards. These ARCs often sell the benefits, the wages, leave entitlement that comes with being a lifeguard at a council/government-operated facility. Due to inconsistencies in lifeguard wages, commercial and not-for-profit facilities focus on promotion and incentives to attract the strongest lifeguard candidates. Such incentives include personal development, training opportunities, free memberships, and award programs. Recruitment seeks to identify and attract a strong group of applicants for filling lifeguard vacancies within an aquatic and recreation centre. Recruitment methods are typically internal, external, online or a combination with facilities predominantly engaging a combination of external recruitment and e-recruitment methods to attract lifeguard candidates. Many managers identified a crucial difference in the quality of candidates when using recruitment websites (e-recruitment). The quality of lifeguard applicants who applied through generic recruitment websites was often inferior to candidates from industry-specific websites (such as Shortlisting reduces a group of applications to a manageable number of candidates who are likely to succeed at the selection stage. Quality and content of the application, age, and availability of applicants were factors when managers shortlisted applications. If relevant content was missing or the job application was poorly written, the application would

be rejected. Flexibility in availability was crucial for facilities operating seven days a week with extended opening hours. Lastly, some managers have been reluctant to employ lifeguards under the age of 18, explaining a lack of maturity and the nature of the position (e.g., providing first aid for severe injuries or conducting aquatic rescues because of drownings and near-drownings) makes the role unsuitable for those under the age of 18. Aquatic and recreation centre management demonstrated a preference for group interviews over one-on-one interviews to evaluate and assess the candidates. Facilities that complete group interviews often assess a candidate’s personality and attitudes, communication skills and intelligence, and capacity for leadership, adaptability, and problem-solving. Less than half of the centres completed work sample assessments (e.g., a CPR scenario or a spinal injury emergency). Those who did not use work sample assessments considered them to be impractical and time-consuming. However, such an approach is missing an opportunity to assess multiple competencies or KSAs, and the failure to provide a preview of the organisation’s culture and value systems and a realistic impression of what the role requires. This current research also determined the reasons for lifeguard turnover from the perspective of managers. Lifeguards leave their position for these main reasons: lifeguarding being a temporary position, a negative working environment, or to pursue employment in a higher paying lifeguard position. Lifeguarding is considered a temporary job with managers considering lifeguarding as not a career, rather a steppingstone into other positions. Additionally, these ‘other positions’ were not in the aquatics industry. This may suggest a lack of advancement and opportunities for progression within the aquatics industry. The lifeguards working environment is considered monotonous and unappealing, and it is suggested the role can only be done for a short period (2-3 years). However, managers describe the lifeguard job as appealing for other reasons, e.g., the working hours, length of shifts, and flexibility to work while studying, making it attractive to those building a career in other fields. Facility management also suggests that negative relationships with colleagues and a negative organisational culture have increased turnover within their centre. The final reason for lifeguard turnover relates to increasing lifeguard wages. The research results identified a significant and worrying discrepancy within the aquatics industry. Lifeguards leave their current position after gaining enough experience to obtain employment in a higher paying role at another venue – a concern managers from both commercial and not-for-profit facilities shared. Concern among centre managers indicates they experience high levels of dysfunctional turnover, i.e., voluntary resignation of lifeguards who ARC managers would rather retain. More often, the costs associated with dysfunctional turnover outweigh any benefits for the centre as a result of which managers need to address lifeguard turnover so they can retain their lifeguard staff. This study provided useful insights from centre managers about lifeguard recruitment. Further research needs to gain insight from lifeguards to explore the reasons for turnover from their perspective and clarify why they continue to leave their employment. Understanding the lifeguards’ perspective regarding turnover will create a clearer picture and allow aquatic and recreation centre management to create and implement a set of short- and long-term recruitment and retention strategies. Michael Butson is a PhD Student at Victoria University, Dr John Tower is Managing Director at JRT Leisure and an Honorary Research Fellow at Victoria University and Professor Eric C Schwarz is a Senior Lecturer in Sport Management at Victoria University.

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The transformative power of AI Artificial intelligence isn’t a tool of the future, it is here, presenting fitness operators with a unique opportunity to turbo-charge everything from retention to revenues. Ian Mullane explains


hen you hear the term AI (artificial intelligence), what does it conjure up in your mind? Do you imagine it to be something futuristic: technology that will one day power world-dominating robots, self-driving cars and so on? You certainly wouldn’t be alone in this view, but to pigeonhole AI as something for the future is to miss out on the very real opportunities it presents to health club operators today. AI is, after all, a significant force in our lives already: from deciding what we need to see in our news feed, to suggesting an artist we may want to play, to giving us to-the-minute arrival times in navigation apps, it touches us in myriad different ways every day with benefits in the shape of enhanced, more personalised experiences throughout our daily lives. So, what does this mean in a fitness context? When you look at the new entrants to our sector, whether they be existing technology players like Apple or the likes of Peloton, you can be assured of this: AI is at the heart of their product development, customer experience and business operations. It can, and should, be at the heart of yours too.

AI can do the heavy lifting The starting point is data, and clubs’ data capture may not always be purposeful or intentional, done mainly through necessity and not always comprehensively. Nevertheless, the data already exists in your business to improve and refine your offering in a multitude of ways. 44 Australasian Leisure Management Issue 144

From my conversations with more than 100 club operators around the world in the last 18 months, without exception the data they needed to transform their businesses - from personalisation of the member journey, to increased secondary spend, to better targeted products and services - was already there. It is amazing what can be done with incomplete datasets as it’s now entirely possible to clean and enhance them, filling gaps and making them fit for purpose. By then applying today’s powerful AI and machine learning tools to this customer data, you’ll unveil a level of insight that, in many cases, makes it blindingly obvious where improvements can be made and opportunities taken. The insights are right there in the data. They always have been, in truth, but with AI now come of age, it no longer requires a staff of data scientists or business intelligence folk to get to them. The tools simply request you feed them data, tell them what you want to know, then leave them to do the rest. Personalise the member journey With the availability of AI and machine learning, we have the capability to understand exactly where the customer is in their journey, as well as what engagement is most likely to be well received at that particular time. Let’s start by looking at the customer’s probability of continuing with the club at the next opportunity they have to make that choice - i.e. member retention. How can an operator gain an understanding of a customer’s current mindset? And,

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crucially, how can this insight be secured in a timeframe that allows the operator to change the outcome? Feed a basic set of standard member data into an AI model and it will generate huge volumes of additional items that we call ‘features’. With a basic member dataset of 45 items - items that might include the member’s age, gender, join date, lead source, membership type and attendance data, for example, depending on what data the club has access to - a machine learning model can generate 8.8 million decision trees to predict many outcomes. No single decision tree is statistically significant, but when combined, you’re presented with a highly accurate prediction of likely member behaviour. In turn, this real-time indicator of retention probability accurate at any point of the customer relationship, whether they’re in week three of a 12-month contract or on day 23 of a monthly pay-as-you-go agreement - means a user journey can be crafted appropriately, with personalised engagement. Benefits of this AI-enhanced approach include: •Member engagement in a time window where you can still change the outcome. •Confidence you are not waking sleeping members. •The ability to customise an offer to minimise attrition risk, including harnessing dynamic pricing. •An enhanced understanding of: •Your demographic strengths and weaknesses: memberlevel data allows you to identify where age and gender are playing a part in attrition. •Human factors in attrition: site-level data can highlight discrepancies between clubs offering exactly the same class, for example, but achieving very different levels of attrition. •Confidence around who to approach with opportunities for non-dues spend. Even better, it can all be automated. Welcomes, attendance prompts, birthdays, milestone achievements - every stage and every action can be set to happen based on simple criteria. Each engagement is customised to the communication preferences of the member (including Europe’s General Data Protection Regulation [GDPR]) and, where there are options, optimised to the required outcome. Personalisation - in the form of personal preferences, gender- and age-specific images - is automatically built in. Such automation will become a central part of every operator’s strategy; the often heard “it’s too impersonal” is a hugely outdated understanding of what’s now possible. 46 Australasian Leisure Management Issue 144

Grow non-dues revenue Your AI will also be capable of looking at your membership base and optimising your non-dues spend. Say you offer personal training for purchase as individual sessions, or in packs of five or 10. Your AI can first identify the customers who will purchase from you. It can then segment them further into members most likely to purchase each of the particular packs. This ensures not only that you drive revenue from your membership, but that you do so without leaving revenue on the table. ‘Andrew’ would buy a five-pack, but he’s just as likely to purchase a 10-pack, so serve him that offer. ‘Kate’, meanwhile, is highly unlikely to want anything but a single session, so don’t scare her off with a five-pack offer. Bank the one-session sale. Add the previously discussed automation and you have AI working 24 hours a day, seven days a week to find members who want an offer, before serving them with the correct one in a piece of communication that at the very least is relevant to their age and gender, and delivered in the optimal engagement format for them. All with no human intervention. The potential is massive - one customer adopting this approach increased non-dues revenue by 43% in six months - and the use case highly flexible to encompass many different areas. Harness dynamic pricing As mentioned, AI provides operators with the ability to customise an offer to minimise attrition risk, including harnessing dynamic pricing. For an operator offering a multi-activity venue with an outdoor pool and racquet sports alongside fitness facilities. These outdoor activities are somewhat seasonal with fluctuations in memberships and rises in terminations as autumn draws in. However, introduce AI and automation, and the operator can now offer memberships that suit customer requirements with the AI predicting which newly-signed members will prove themselves to be summer-only, and which are likely to extend past that. For the summer-only members, an offer is dynamically served to them at the optimal time to propose another tier of membership - one that reflects the reduced facilities in the winter months. Then, as winter passes and spring commences, the automation will serve the revised Summer Upgrade membership, seamlessly and without the need for staff intervention.

Gyms already offer a number of different membership plans that incorporate entitlements around facilities and times of day when members can access the premises. With AI + automation, each member could be provided with a dynamic membership price - each quarter, say - that best reflects their use of the facilities. Adoption of this approach sees a move away from the binary member/non-member relationship and provide a more customer-centric approach - one that will drive lower attrition and build longer-term relationships as members see the commercial part of the relationship centred around their specific requirements. There are many more ways in which AI can optimise pricing, too: it is completely plausible that gyms might manage pricing dynamically taking into account site locations, facilities and the competitive environment around them. Indeed, pricing is an area with so many variables - the majority of which will materially affect the outcome - that allowing an AI model to monitor them all, looking for the optimal outcome, makes far more sense than relying on gut instinct or market experience. Tailor the product for retention The impact of AI on operations should not be underestimated. Consider this as a deliverable example: •Your AI sees member and class attendance and the schedules you have in place. •It also understands the drivers behind your member retention performance in quite literally a million different ways. •You ask your AI to optimise your class timetable for member retention. •Your AI will take into account every variable and generate new timetables. •With each variation, it will provide you with the expected retention improvement from implementation, allowing you to optimise the schedules for member satisfaction. In many ways, even the above examples are pedestrian when you consider the extent of the technological capabilities available today. The possibilities to streamline and add value to a health club business are almost unlimited, with AI leveraging a club’s data to unlock new insights and opportunities to boost member engagement and satisfaction, as well as to attract and recruit the right members in the first place - individuals who, matching your optimal member profile, are more likely to stay with you and drive a higher lifetime value. A time for action If any of the scenarios I’ve outlined in this article sound futuristic, or at least not immediately attainable, let me finish with this: every aspect of what I’ve outlined is deliverable today - in part or wholly depending on your requirements - using commercially available products and expertise. And the evidence is already there, from our early adopters in particular; our launch date as a business means 80% of clients came on-board between November 2019 and lockdown in March 2020, so we will have to wait a little longer for robust data from these organisations. However, what we can already state with confidence is that every single operator implementing AI has improved retention within a few months, with one Australian operation boosting it by 9% in the first six months. Another Australian operation took just 30 days to see a difference in cancellation rates, thanks to the fact that - drawing on 13 years of data - AI was able to risk stratify its entire member base immediately, with the club then able to turn this into targeted strategies. It has since added a year to its average length of membership and boosted average visit rates from around 50 to 80%, even in the aftermath of COVID. Meanwhile, one US customer reported its highest ever member engagement rate with its digital campaigns - newsletters, renewal offers, NPS (net promote score) participation and so on - once AI was harnessed to ensure the right content was sent in the right format at the right time: average open rates rose from 47% to 72%. Another US customer logged a 52% increase in NPS completion by members following AI assistance. One last example comes from an Australian operator that, by running a nondues revenue campaign underpinned by AI, recorded its best ever result: an impressive $35,000 upsell in just three weeks. All of this by targeting members selected by AI and based on habits, frequency, likes, age profile and so on - with a tailored offer that made them feel the club genuinely knew them and what they wanted. All of these opportunities exist, now. It all comes down to what action you choose to take. Ian Mullane is founder and Chief Executive of AI specialist Keepme.

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Australasian Leisure Management Issue 144 47

Sesame Street Circus (above) and Boss Squad. Credit: Shaun Higgins (below).

Circus pivots for a new age When the pandemic threatened to take down the Australian big top for good, performers and organisers alike pivoted in a way that only a circus performer can. Gwen Luscombe looks at how the industry fared to use innovation through crisis and keep the big top spirit alive and well.


he modern-day circus might look different from those just a few decades ago. They’ve (for the most part) turned away from animal acts and sideshow oddities to acrobatics, stunts and performer-driven entertainment. So too has the size and scale of circuses changed. What were once large-scale travelling shows employing several professionals of all types, today circuses have become vastly smaller, specialised and running on significantly smaller budgets. It’s a common misconception that circuses, and the arts in general, are heavily funded through the government. While a portion of funding does come from grant support, it’s generally less than 30% of revenue, typically used to subsidise ticket costs. With the rising costs of insurances and venue hire, most performing arts organisations survive on ticket sales for performances. This is why the COVID pandemic almost took the sector to extinction. Wildhouse Circus Director and acrobat, Felicia Lannan explained “in March 2020 we had a tour cancelled just hours after finishing our bump in and tech run at the venue. “We then had to rush all of our performers home from New Zealand and regional Victoria in order to keep them safe. Although we stayed connected and in contact with our performers, we couldn’t offer them any financial support throughout the year, as performing became impossible. “As the director, I have tried my best to stay motivated and on top of admin during lockdown, ready to re-emerge as best we can.” Originally the Madhouse Circus, South Australia - based Wildhouse Circus was formed by the National Institute of Circus 48 Australasian Leisure Management Issue 144

Students in 2012 and has since toured to most major cities in Australia as well as an international tour to New Zealand. On average and depending on the needs of the touring production, it employs six acrobats and a technician. Lannan said that the abrupt halt resulted in many major companies using the pause button to halt business, accessing support like JobKeeper to keep their acrobats employed and develop new works during lockdown. However, not all companies were able to access the support. One of Australia’s larger companies, Circus Royale were left stranded for roughly six months in Victoria due to border closures in Western Australia, where their Perth home is located.


SMART social-distancing




Boss Squad. Credit: Rudi Deco (above) and the Sesame Street Circus (below).

Owner and ringmaster Damian Syred called it the toughest period he’d seen in 19 years of the business as COVID restrictions meant 33 staff (which included 22 internationals) were unable to return home and most without access to JobKeeper. To stay afloat, the circus sold some assets including a semi-trailer, two trucks and two caravans as well as relying on personal savings. A crowdfunding page was also set up to assist the stranded performers and charitable organisations stepped up to assist with groceries and sanitary items. The group also did what most businesses had to do, pivot and adapt their offerings. The group took to selling the much-loved sweets and treats such as fairy floss, popcorn and Dagwood dogs from their on-site stand and even moved to local delivery during their hiatus. In a recent group newsletter, Melbourne-based Circus Oz revealed they’d lost half of their annual income in a matter of weeks, coming very close to having to shut their doors forever. Their solution like many other businesses was to go into hibernation for the year. But they certainly didn’t stay quiet. The year saw them launch a series of online workshops and classes and what they called ‘iso-tainment’, where industry colleagues and performers alike hosted online performances via platforms such as YouTube. Wildhouse Circus’ Lannan too, found that using the time to re-invent was the best thing they could do to adapt, saying that while they could have optioned to promote filmed versions of their work online or sell merchandise, they instead focussed on developing a new touring model alongside their major work; BOSS SQUAD. Lannan adds “the BOSS SQUAD Project is a community engagement project developed for young people with a focus on female empowerment. The BOSS SQUAD acrobats lead students through a series of workshops in circus skills, prop making and discussions of trust and consent, which circus is in a unique position to demonstrate. “This project allows our staff to work with the next generation, for weeks at a time, with a performance outcome.” 50 Australasian Leisure Management Issue 144

With the support of Arts SA, the pilot edition of the project went ahead in early 2021 with the Circobats Community Circus Youth Troupe with much success and promise to move across Australia. BOSS SQUAD returned to stage in March 2021, nearly a year to the day they had to cancel and rush home. Lannan noted “Adelaide Fringe and Gluttony (fringe hub) specifically made taking the risk to return to a self-funded tour feel easy and like we were supported. Their new venue; The Lark, programmed only female-led works at a reduced hire fee to counteract the research emerging which tells us women are more negatively impacted by the pandemic than men.” BOSS SQUAD sold-out performances and won the Best Circus Weekly Award for the second year in a row. A very successful season in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Lannan adds that the ability of the circus to bounce back will be reliant on access to training and performance venues and the public’s willingness to return as audience members. For venues to make them feel safe again, all of which directly affects the financial viability of touring and performing. Likewise in April this year, the largely popular children’s circus, Sesame Street Circus Spectacular returned to performing following a hiatus. The show, which opened in Adelaide with new COVID-19 protocols in place, worked in close coordination with government agency guidelines to continue the much-loved show with their cast of international performers from Argentina, Switzerland, Germany, Hungary, Brazil, Morocco and more. Keith Brown, managing director of Showtime Attractions and Sesame Street Circus Spectacular, advised “we’re absolutely delighted to be bringing this incredible show back to South Australian families this April, and can’t wait for the beloved Sesame Street characters to bring some much-needed smiles to little one’s faces. “While we had to shut down the Sesame Street Circus Spectacular for 11 months, we are very excited to be back, bringing the circus to Sesame Street fans young and old across the country. “There is no denying that the pandemic hit the industry hard. Our performers, who are from all over the world, were not eligible for JobKeeper or Government support. We were also not able to live stream performances, so we literally had to stop everything during the pandemic. “We are now back at a limited seating capacity and are constantly monitoring the COVID situation and working closely with government agencies to ensure that the circus can remain up and running. “We hope that the government does provide support to live performances at some stage because the industry is still suffering. “We really do have a lineup of the most incredible circus stars and we hope Australian audiences will get out there and support the Sesame Street Circus in the coming months.” Gwen Luscombe is Director of the Ideas Library and a frequent contributor on tourism, business events, technology and hospitality.

Stardust Circus’ exotic animals are being retired, including Gigi the elephant (below).

Exotic animals retired from the Circus Failure to secure insurance sees Australia’s last circus with exotic animals move to retire its lions and monkeys


ustralia’s ongoing insurance crisis has caused Stardust Circus, Australia’s last travelling circus with exotic animals, to move to retire its performing lions and monkeys. While the circus will continue to feature ponies, goats and dogs in its performances, an inability to secure public liability insurance for its six lions and monkeys means the animals will be retired to an animal sanctuary. Established in the early 1990s by the Lennon and West families - two circus families with tradition going back to the late 19th century, Stardust Circus tours the country from the remotest towns to capital cities from January to late November. Impacted last year by Coronavirus lockdowns, the circus will continue with arts including tumblers, solo trapeze, acrobats, teeter board, aerial silks, cloud swing, flying trapeze and clowns. Animal rights group PETA Australia has reported it is “jumping for joy” at the announcement, citing a 2020 YouGov survey that it funded which found that 75% of Australians wanted to see a ban on circuses using exotic animals. However, Stardust Circus emphasises that it was insurance and not animal rights that drove their move, with owner Janice Lennon saying “like many showmen, we have had difficulty being able to secure insurance moving forward. Advising “we tried everywhere (with) about half a dozen brokers”, Lennon advised that the Circus eventually secured coverage with Pen Underwriting. However, the specialist insurance agency refused coverage for the exotic animals without explanation. Commenting on this, Lennon noted “the silly thing is we’ve never had a claim with the lions or anything like any risk whatsoever.” Last year, when addressing an inquiry into the exhibition of exotic animals in circuses and the exhibition of cetaceans (marine animals) in NSW, Lennon highlighted that retiring

exotic animals from circuses to the different environment of a zoo may not be an ideal solution as these animal are used to regular contact with their trainers. Lennon described the “heartbreaking” decision to retire the Circus’ two elephants - Arna and Gigi - to Western Plains Zoo in Dubbo in 2007. Describing her regret at sending the animals away she advised “had we known the outcome, we would never have done that.” Lennon said in the first few months Arna was at the Zoo she dropped as much as 300 kilograms and “just pined for the circus the whole time.” Lennon said Arna had spent her days waiting by the gate, the last place she saw her former home, and when her family came to visit, both elephants came “flying down the hill, they were that excited to see us.” While the elephants eventually began to settle at the Zoo, Lennon said when Arna died in 2012, aged 54, keepers could not find a specific cause of death. Lennon told the inquiry “she eventually died and they said they couldn’t find a cause of death, and they said she died of a broken heart, and that was all they put it down to.” Fearing action by animal rights activists, Lennon did not identify the zoo that the animals will be retired to. Australasian Leisure Management Issue 144 51

Crowds return to Auckland’s Eden Park for a post lockdown Super Rugby Aotearoa fixture in June 2020. Credit: Eden Park/Photosport NZ.

Time to Reconsider Kevin Wilson suggests that the Coronavirus pandemic has further exaggerated the ‘white elephant’ characteristics of just about all large spectator sport facilities


n recent years, some sports facilities have been called ‘white elephants’. The term dates back to ancient Asia when a king would gift a white elephant to a subordinate he was dissatisfied with because the associated costs of keeping a white elephant significantly outweigh its value. Today’s white elephants include sports facilities that have experienced substantial construction cost overruns, are underused or present a financial burden to taxpayers. White elephants are so common that sport facility legacies could possibly be the least promising benefit of hosting a major sport event. However, the term has generally not yet been applied to sport facilities that professional sport teams call home. The pandemic has further exaggerated these white elephant characteristics of just about all large spectator sport facilities. Between 2000 and 2018, there have been substantial cost overruns for hosting the Olympic Games. Much of this can be attributed to sport facilities. For example, the stadium constructed for the 1976 Montréal Olympics - known as the Big O - had an original estimated cost of US$250 million and is now often referred to as the ‘Big Owe’ because construction costs inflated to a US$1.4 billion project. 52 Australasian Leisure Management Issue 144

Public Losses Generally, publicly owned sport facilities have suffered far worse than those that are privately owned. Most sport facilities that were constructed for major sport events between 1996 and 2010 have experienced use and financial challenges. These often become financial burdens for taxpayers. The problem extends to recently constructed facilities. The 2014 Sochi Olympics produced multiple sport facilities that have struggled with post-event use and cost upwards of US$399 million per year to maintain. Similarly, a judge has ordered the closure of the 2016 Rio Olympic Park over safety concerns. The sport facilities began to fall into disrepair only six months after the Games concluded. In North America, there have been over 40 professional sport facilities constructed or renovated since 2005 for the five major sport leagues. While the vast majority of these teams are privately owned, the facility projects have received US$12.6 billion in public subsidies, or 48% of the cost. Whether it be new construction or renovation, these projects often experience substantial cost overruns and require ongoing maintenance that can be passed down to the taxpayer. As a result, public administrators and taxpayers can become

sceptical of new publicly funded projects and conflict may arise between sport franchises and cities. Through these conflicts, franchise owners can threaten to move, ‘negotiate’ out of paying rent, and once construction is completed, the values of these franchises’ skyrocket. For the Sydney 2000 Olympic games, the main stadium, Stadium Australia, was financed through a private-public partnership with the state government contributing AU$135 million. The private consortium unit holders were entitled to buy tickets for all hosted events until 2031. While the stadium’s size was reduced from 110,000 during the games to 80,000 post-games, there were not enough events to generate the attendance required to sustain the stadium and it was sold in 2007 to the main creditor (ANZ Bank) for AU$10 million. Contributing to poor attendance were nearby stadiums, the Sydney Cricket Ground and Sydney Football Stadium with capacities of 40,000, that were preferred by local teams. Ultimately, local teams preferred the smaller stadiums due to spectator atmosphere and the desire to play their matches in a full stadium. Pandemic’s Effects The COVID-19 pandemic has dramatically impacted use and attendance at sport facilities, with long-term implications that are largely unknown. The immediate impact forced the closure of sport facilities and many leagues around the world operated in bubbles and without fans. For example, a daunting sight for sport, the SoFi Stadium in Los Angeles (in the US state of California), the most expensive single sport facility project in history with a price tag of US$5 billion and the capacity to hold up to 100,000 for select events opened in September 2020 and saw zero fans in its first season of operation. Meanwhile, Australia, not hit as hard by the pandemic, has experienced glimpses of hope along with occasional regressions. In November last year, over 52,000 people attended the NRL Grand Final at Brisbane’s Suncorp Stadium and, as of April 2021 venues across the country are moving toward operating at 100% capacity. However, COVID-19 outbreaks during events, such as the Australian Open that took place in Melbourne in February, forced organisers to refund tickets and reduce crowd sizes in an attempt to control the virus and prevent it from affecting the players. Around the world, there have been various initiatives - and practices adopted - to reopen sport facilities. For instance, some venues have blocked off the first six to eight rows of lower tier sections to protect players while another approach is to only reopen certain sections of seating, reduce the number of tickets sold and deliberately space spectators out to allow for physical distancing. However, this also dramatically reduces seating capacities and revenue. Ultimately as it stands today, consuming sports from the comfort of home currently provides the lowest risk for sport consumers. Virus-proofing sport facilities and implementing infection prevention and control mechanisms that convince fans that it is safe to return will be necessary to encourage post-pandemic attendance.

Brownfields are often occupied by infrastructure that has been deemed obsolete. Planners should consider repurposing existing facilities and, if there is no immediate need based on the urban conditions, building temporary facilities that will be deconstructed after events. When new sport facilities align with long-term city plans, strategic partnerships should be explored, and these partners must be involved through the design stages. For example, professional sports teams are potential key partners because the most successful facilities have a professional sports team as an anchor tenant. Another consideration is to design and build adaptable and flexible facilities that include spaces for recreation and public use to give the facility additional opportunities for community attachment and public benefits. After the pandemic, sport facilities will likely need to be reimagined with alterations to building codes to virus-proof the stands and amenities. Key areas of concern remain crowd management, restrooms, concessions, breaks/intermissions, parking and high-touch surfaces. In the meantime, sport facility operators must consider infection prevention and control plans, case management plans and disinfection procedures. Future consumption patterns of younger audiences should be considered in order to adapt to and apply new technologies like virtual reality. As technologies advance, the trend of athome spectator sport consumption will likely increase, reducing the need for large spectator sport facilities. Finally, above all else, the size of facilities needs a major reconsideration. International organisations need to eliminate the size requirements of unnecessarily large facilities and increase the emphasis on practicality, servicing local market conditions and general post-event usage. Kevin Wilson is a PhD Student in Recreation and Leisure Studies at the University of Waterloo, Ontario, Canada. This article is based on an opinion first published in The Conversation. Crowds return to London Olympics venue the Copper Box Arena.

The Future of Sporting Infrastructure The examples in this article highlight the importance of evidence-based planning to avoid white elephants. The most successful sport facilities are strategically located and linked to urban conditions, demographics and socio-economic status, such as the London Aquatics Centre and the Copper Box Arena built for the 2012 Olympics or the Toronto Pan Am Sports Centre built for the 2015 Pan Am Games. Strategic locations include using brownfields (unused land previously used for industrial purposes) situated within urban regeneration areas that experience high levels of traffic. Australasian Leisure Management Issue 144 53

BMX action at Melbourne facility Rampfest.

Trails WA, Kalamunda (top) and the Northern Beaches Bare Creek Bike Park (below).

Inside Australia’s

biggest sporting merger Three years in the making, the AusCycling mega-merger - of 18 boards with 130 directors and 11 chief executives - involved a dramatic overhaul of structure, strategy and governance. Zilla Efrat explains


n 1st November 2020, Cycling Australia, the national administrative body for the sport, completed a strategic reimaging that led to the merger of 18 out of 19 local and state cycling organisations into a single, member-controlled, national body. The dramatic overhaul of structure, strategy and governance of an organisation that has been around for a century was three years in the making. The new AusCycling had one executive and non-executive team, a single balance sheet and a strategy - the ‘holy triumvirate’ of federated governance reform. Multiple boards with more than a hundred directors had been reduced to one board with 12 directors while 11 chief executives were replaced with a single one. For John Wylie (pictured), former Chair of the Australian Sports Commission (ASC) and a keen cyclist, this was the biggest and most important merger of sporting organisations in Australian history. Two days before Christmas 2020, a 17th cycling organisation voted to join the new entity. Then, in recent 54 Australasian Leisure Management Issue 144

weeks, BMX Sports Western Australia also voted in favour - taking the number supporting the merger to 18. At time of writing, only one organisation, WestCycle, had opted not to participate. Wylie explained “in so many ways, cycling has been a sleeping giant in Australian sport. “It’s got a huge community - a great demographic participates in the sport and takes a strong interest in it. Cycling should be one of Australia’s power sports, but it was almost impossible for it to reach its potential because it was being run through 19 separate organisations with about 130 directors. “The merger is a game changer for cycling and also a great example for other sports.” Wylie, the founder and Chief Executive of investment firm Tanarra, says the ASC, through Sport Australia, has been driving an agenda of reform and modernisation for many years, noting “all sports, these days, are competing in a ruthlessly competitive commercial market for participation and sponsorship dollars. “It’s very hard for them to be competitive if they are fragmented, regional organisations working with a national organisation.”

Addressing dysfunction With this in mind, Wylie persuaded Duncan Murray to become Cycling Australia’s Chair in mid-2018, in order to revamp cycling’s dysfunctional governance. Murray, who is also Chief Executive of the Besen Family Office, says during the past two decades, there had been many discussions about governance reform in cycling. While sports such as sailing and golf adopted reforms, cycling was far more disaggregated. It had three national sporting organisations (NSOs) - BMX Australia, Cycling Australia and Mountain Bike Australia (MTBA). BMX Australia and Cycling Australia had eight state sporting organisations, but unlike the majority of national sporting organisations, MTBA had a non-federated governance model - with no state/territory associations - MTBA being owned by its individual members. Murray says that, historically, there had been poor relations between the three NSOs, although they had engaged in governance reform talks in the past. He decided to make a new approach to the Presidents of BMX Australia and MTBA. The reason these talks were more successful, he says, is because there was the right generation of leadership and people realised the merger was in the best interests of the sport. Murray advised “we all started working very closely together. We had a common vision. Enough of the organisations’ executive and non-executive leadership were philosophically aligned. And they were prepared to invest the time and do the work needed. The single biggest challenge was convincing those with reservations at a state and local level, to bring them along on the journey. It got very heated at times. Those involved in cycling are there because they love it. When people love something, there’s a lot of passion. Where there’s a lot of passion, there’s inevitably heated debate.” According to Steve Drake, Cycling Australia’s Chief Executive at the time of the merger, there wasn’t too much resistance from staff. Drake recalls “(resistance) was more at the member level.In the corporate world, you can make a hostile takeover bid. You can’t do that in the sporting world. You have to win hearts and minds and convince people about the benefits of the changes. “You’ll never get everybody to agree. Because of the passion associated with sport, people sometimes don’t respond to the logic of the argument. Often, a small, resistant band can make a lot of noise.” Shane Coppin, Chief Executive of MTBA when the negotiations started, adds “it was crucial to remain consistent and transparent, to build a rapport and trust with those who would ultimately vote on the merger. Various political influences affected the process and we had to combat the historical influence of a federated model that often pitted organisations against each other, rather than working together.” Coppin can’t overstate Sport Australia’s leadership in the process, advising “they provided us with administrative support, along with access to consultants to help with the extensive planning, promotional and transition phases of the project. “We had direct support from change management consultants as well as legal, feasibility and HR. “We completely euthanised the existing model and came up with a new model that could take cycling forward and let it realise its latent potential. We went to every state two or three times and had town hall meetings with many hundreds of people, all livestreamed on Facebook. There were tough times. Some people were strongly for the merger, some very strongly against it. Respecting everybody’s view and doing a lot of listening was critical.” Regarding the job losses, Coppin comments “the CEOs of the three NSOs agreed to give up our roles because we all agreed it was crucial to the success of the project that there was a fresh CEO to lead the new entity. In essence, success demanded we do that. Ultimately, to ‘risk’ your job on a merger

Santos Tour Down Under.

becomes a leadership decision and a challenge. You have to decide whether you believe in something so much that you are willing to put that belief before your personal job security and agenda. “It’s always easier to find a reason not to do something or fault in a proposal. But it takes courage, passion and conviction to push for change, especially in a world such as sport, which

Navigating a successful merger Shane Coppin points to lessons learned from the cycling merger that applies to directors in all sectors as being: •Have a clear purpose and vision and remain committed to them. •Remain focused on the bigger picture. You will not have all the answers beforehand, nor should you. •Remain consistent and authentic throughout the entire process. •Don’t expect people to change, unless you are willing to, as well. •Listen to the feedback. If it fits your vision, make a few changes along the way. The process needs to have a firm line, but it also needs to be dynamic and flexible for others to feel ownership of it. It’s a negotiation. •Don’t promise what you cannot deliver. Build a realistic expectation for the new organisation from day one. •Don’t underestimate the extent that passion and history can have on a person’s viewpoint and decisions. •Understand criticism is not always personal, even if it feels like it is. •Find the key points of the problem and a discussion that each side can connect on. Then try to broaden the discussion to new opportunities through change.

Australasian Leisure Management Issue 144 55

Mountain biking at Thredbo.

is built on history, passion and individuals.” Drake, who knew he would lose his position before he even took it on, explains “I got involved with Cycling Australia - first on the board in 2017, and then later as CEO - with a view to implement the merger because I knew it was for the betterment of cycling more broadly. “Given the historic bad blood between the NSOs, it was always the case that the CEO of Cycling Australia couldn’t be the CEO of AusCycling. That would have been seen by the other NSOs as a takeover. Cycling Australia was the largest NSO.” At times feeling like The Blues Brothers singing behind chicken wire to angry audiences as they held town hall meetings across Australia, after two and a half years, they had their Rawhide moment. Board mechanics When it came to making up the new board, care was needed. The new directors of AusCycling were selected by a nominations committee. Supported by Sport Australia, it included representatives from the three NSOs and a partner from Clayton Utz. In choosing the board, Murray says three directors were put forward by each of the NSOs. Three independent directors with the required skills were also appointed. In due course, the board will be joined by the president of a national advisory council which represents the state interests. Murray advised “Sport Australia and AusCycling’s nominations committee used a multidimensional matrix. “You have to have a traditional skills matrix, but you also need to keep your eye on geographic diversification as well as ensuring there’s a balance of the various cycling disciplines. Then there’s vertical diversification - you need people who understand the grassroots of the sport and those who understand the macro picture.” Culture clubs Coppin says a big hurdle was bringing together cycling’s many diverse cultures. BMX, for example, is typically enjoyed by those aged from two to early teens, kitted up in motocross helmets and gloves, racing over a short track with challenging jumps and berms. 56 Australasian Leisure Management Issue 144

Then there are the cyclists, the thousands of individuals who each week either ride or race on our streets on road bikes individually or in groups. Add to this the mountain bike riders who ride bush trails on cross-country bikes, racing down mountains over rocks and bumps in downhill, or engaging in a combination of the two. Coppin adds “there are also the track cyclists who scientifically chase split-seconds on a track, plus hybrids in cyclocross, which is a mix between road and mountain biking. “The slope-style mountain bikers enjoy riding jumps and testing their acrobat skills. Plus, there’s freestyle BMX, which involves competition on ramps, creating one of the most exciting, spectator-friendly forms of riding. This is now an Olympic event. “At AusCycling, a cyclist can be anyone or anything, on any bike. What we are trying to do is create an organisation that recognises everyone equally and encourages everyone to ride; which gives everyone, as much as we can, the same opportunities to progress in whatever is right for them. Our new tagline is: ‘Let’s ride together’.” History lessons For Murray, another big issue during the merger talks was that cycling organisations were heavy with history. He notes “some were between 120 and 140 years old. There was a fear their history, heritage and local focus would disappear and be replaced by a grey, homogenous organisation that wouldn’t care about the coalface, grassroots and clubs. I’m comfortable the opposite will be the case. The sector’s potential can finally be realised and we will hold the history and heritage of our constituent parts dear.” Murray is confident the new organisation will be betterresourced, going on to say “there will still be state offices - all the things the organisations were already doing well will continue to be done well.” Advising that some “white spaces” will be filled, he adds “there were at least a dozen important things we couldn’t do through the old structure. “Cycling doesn’t have a national bike education program, effective cross-discipline pathways, national transport policy or

a cohesive infrastructure policy. We can now focus on things like that.” Growth strategies The new organisation is well placed, given COVID-19 has been kind to the sector. Murray sees that “there’s been an extraordinary surge in bike sales and participation since the pandemic struck. “But with 19 different organisations and strategies, it was hard to take advantage of that.” One opportunity is membership growth. More than 3.43 million Australians ride a bike at least once a week, yet the combined membership of the 19 separate cycling organisations is just 55,000. The merger is expected to yield administrative cost savings that can be reinvested in member services, provide a single unified voice to government and result in clear and consistent rider pathways. This, it is hoped, will ultimately boost Australia’s performance internationally. According to Coppin, there are also more opportunities to gain exposure and government support, and to attract highquality, experienced staff throughout the country rather than on a localised basis. Future mergers Learning from the creation of AusCycling, Wylie states “people in sports should not kid themselves. “They are competing with some of the larger sports like AFL, rugby league and cricket, which have very well-run organisations, as well as entertainment options outside of sport for community participation and entrance. There has been a crying need for Australian sport to modernise for many years. “The ASC oversees more than 30 Olympic sports. - 125 boards with 952 directors. “National mergers such as AusCycling show it’s possible to have an integrated national structure and a more effective and competitive organisational structure, which works for a common purpose at the same time as maintaining local grassroots, community and regional participation in sports. In

BMX action at Melbourne facility Rampfest.

certain sponsorship categories - not all - it’s just common sense to have a national single sponsorship offer. It is a diminished position if a commercial sponsor is offered the sponsorship at a national level and finds its competitors are sponsoring the sport at a local level.” Wylie says philanthropic supporters also want to see organisations run efficiently, adding “it’s important for sports to attract the best-quality people to boards. With the traditional structures of Australian sporting organisations, we’ve seen a lot of infighting and instability. There can be too many cooks in the kitchen. “We think a structure like AusCycling will be more stable in the long term and will be able to attract more sponsorship, commercial support and philanthropic dollars. Ultimately, it should be an attractive place to join as an employee or director.” Zilla Efrat is a Sydney-based freelance journalist, editor and copywriter. This article was first published in Company Director magazine, the member magazine of the Australian Institute of Company Directors.

A brand-new house Marne Fechner (pictured right), who joined AusCycling as its inaugural Chief Executive in February, sees the merger as a huge opportunity. Fechner explains “we get to establish our own norms and expectations. “Often, when you move into an organisation, there are certain ways of doing things, established and dominant cultures, good and bad. These can be hard to change, so the formation of AusCycling is a once in a generation opportunity to reimagine who we are. The great thing for me is that a lot of the hard work has been done. Cycling has built the new house. As a sport, they have broken down the barriers and walls, and I feel like I’m coming in to drive a bold new agenda - to help shape what the future is going to look like.” In her previous role as Chief Executive of Netball Australia, Fechner more than doubled revenue, grew the professional league and led a substantial organisational redesign and cultural change. She’s been given a mandate to develop AusCycling into one of Australia’s most successful sporting brands through a new and unified sporting model. Looking forward she advises “the trick for me is not to force a square peg into a round hole. “Our culture and brand need to be representative of the whole community - that is, whether you are a beginner rider who just loves to get on a bike, through to our elite professionals. That’s a big spectrum of people. The

question is, how do we create something that gives people a sense of belonging, that represents them and gives them freedom to celebrate and thrive within all the different nuances of cycling? We need to embrace all the disciplines. If we’re too much road and track, or too much mountain bike or BMX, we’ll likely fail. Each needs to have its place. That’s the magic we have to find.” Fechner expects her initial focus to be around AusCycling’s people, concluding “sport is made up of people. A large part of our workforce is made up of volunteers. Our clubs exist because of the goodwill of volunteers. There will be a new strategic agenda - it will be around growing participation, thriving clubs, attracting and delivering world-class events, gold medals and commercial success. All these things will be important. I dare say, my success in the sport will be measured by these types of things. “We’ll only achieve these outcomes if we have highperforming people, who are clear about where we are going, why we are going there, what role they will play. People who are passionate and love doing the work. We need to have very clear ways and means of doing things - visible not only to us, but to people in our community.”

Australasian Leisure Management Issue 144 57

Concept for the Northcote Aquatic and Recreation Centre (above) and Warren and Mahoney’s recent hire, Whare Timu (below).

Integrating Indigenous processes in design Daryl Maguire shares his views about the importance of leading with an inclusive design process


t’s no secret New Zealand is admired across the globe as a leading example of a bicultural society. Its rich Maori culture, visually depicted across key national icons and brought to a hair-raising crescendo when its world-famous rugby team, the All Blacks, proudly stare down even the most formidable opposing teams. New Zealand’s cultural integration has become an admirable example to aspire to. Both on the sporting field, and visually displayed at its impressive arenas and facilities that showcase athletic prowess. As we increasingly look to celebrate and integrate the practices and richness of our indigenous and First Nations cultures into our places of play, Warren and Mahoney’s recent hire, Whare Timu - a highly qualified architect, who is also a dedicated expert in indigenous design and bestpractice cultural integration attaches specific importance 58 Australasian Leisure Management Issue 144

to inclusive design processes. We are using our experience in New Zealand to build a blueprint to connect sport and recreation projects back to the original guardians of the lands in all countries in which we operates. With projects like the Northcote Aquatic Recreation Centre (NARC) in progress in Melbourne, we are leaning heavily upon Kiwi learnings and successes to deliver a facility that centres on celebrating indigenous culture and valuable sustainable practices. Not just satisfied with its impressive track record of integration with local iwi (regional tribes) in New Zealand, we bolstered our existing cultural code of conduct with the hiring of Timu. Timu’s iwi (Maori social units) is Tuwharetoa and he comes from Waihaha on the Western Bay of the Lake Taupo in the central North Island region of New Zealand. Having practiced architecture for the past 15 years, he is excited to join the Warren and Mahoney family to help lead and build on its cultural framework for the practice. His background working with the government and iwi, from housing right through to government workplace strategy and commercial fit outs, has included working with local iwi across the country to build on their aspirations around papakainga

Concept for the new Dunedin Hospital (above) and Te Matakirea (below).

(new housing built on ancestral land) and more generational housing. To create a solid framework around this bicultural integration, Warren and Mahoney set up its own advanced cultural design unit Te Matakirea in 2017 – which Timu will only continue to help grow. The name comes from the Maori translation of the sharp end of the spear - the driving force. Te Matakirea was established to provide a Maori-led framework to bring in other Maori influences and expertise to create authentic connections with key stakeholders that can and should inform all community projects. It aims to have a focus on delivering outcomes for all people; creating positive impact through design across all the communities the practice operates within. Recent project examples led by this process include the Tamaki Regeneration Project; the Dunedin Hospital; and the Massey University Library in Palmerston North - and this will expand to NARC in Melbourne. However, given its inherently Maori roots, Te Matakirea is not designed to be a ‘one size fits’ all for other countries Warren and Mahoney works in; quite the opposite. Timu explains “our experience in working with iwi/indigenous peoples extends to finding relevance in international markets - including the work that we’re doing in Australia and Pacific Islands, such as Tonga and Fiji.” If you go overseas, we talk about our culture and the gems of kapa haka, and the gems of carving and the art that is passed on, we do this through design anyway. In terms of indigenous culture, we have the provenance to make a positive impact and being part of the Pacific Rim and being part of a country that has a treaty, they are wanting to learn and converse with us. Timu adds “this framework will provide a guideline on how to be able to work with all our practitioners and help provide a base line of support with all our projects that have cultural dimensions in other parts of the world. “It’s about coming up with ways that can help create

ownership for indigenous and First Nation peoples alongside the stakeholders and the wider communities to truly enrich project outcomes. They will celebrate history and be a source of pride for all. “We want to allow everyone to co-decide the aspirations of the project, and the methodology of the project. From there we take that and turn it into a functional brief that will be reflected in the design outcomes.” Melbourne-based Daryl Maguire is Principal with Pacific Rim architecture practice, Warren and Mahoney. With a 65-year history and a 300-strong team, Warren and Mahoney works as one connected studio across its seven Australasian locations. Current projects, in planning or construction, equate to a combined value of $1.8 billion across residential, tertiary, commercial, sports and civic sectors in Australia. Australasian Leisure Management Issue 144 59


Kate Palmer has been appointed as Chief Executive of OneAthletics, the unified body that combines Australian athletics bodies Little Athletics Australia and Athletics Australia, on a 12 months contract. Palmer, who was appointed to the board of Athletics Australia in November, will replace Athletics Australia Chief Executive, Darren Gocher. Separately, Palmer has also joined the Board of AFL club Richmond.

Vale: John Konrads Australasian Leisure Management is saddened to learn of the death Olympic Gold medal swimmer John Konrads who passed away at the age of 78. With his sister, Ilsa, he dominated the Australian swimming scene for a brief but brilliant time in the late 1950s and early 1960s. Both went on to represent Australia at the Olympic Games, John winning gold in the 1500m freestyle at the 1960 Rome Olympics. Born in Latvia in 1942, Konrads arrived in Australia with his family in 1949. After competitive swimming, Konrads was Managing Director of the Australasian operations for personal care products company L’Oreal for more than a decade, was General Marketing Manager for Ansett in the lead up to airline deregulation and, in the first half of the 1990s was Chief Executive of the Melbourne Major Events Company where he was responsible for attracting many high profile events to the city including the F1 Grand Prix. After 1996, he consulted in marketing, sports venue development and executive coaching and in 1999 he won the tender for managing the Cook+Phillip Park Aquatic and Fitness Centre, before management of the facility passed to the YMCA in 2007. He was inducted into the Sport Australia Hall of Fame as an Athlete Member for his contribution to the sport of swimming in 1985.

Ardent Leisure promotes Greg Yong as Theme Park Division Chief Executive Ardent Leisure Group has announced the appointment of Greg Yong as Chief Executive of its theme parks and attractions division. Yong takes over from John Osborne, who has held the role since late 2018. Ardent advised that Osborne had decided to step down from the role for personal reasons but had agreed to consult to Ardent on several projects considered to be of strategic importance for the company. Commenting on the change, Ardent Chair Dr Gary Weiss said the company was delighted that Yong, the theme park division’s Chief Operating Officer since May 2019, had accepted the offer to replace Osborne. He advised “Greg has substantial experience in the theme parks industry in Australia and overseas, and has played a critical role as a key member of the leadership team in restoring the performance of Dreamworld and SkyPoint.”

Send your people news to 60 Australasian Leisure Management Issue 144

Greg Oliver named Executive of the Year at APAC Fitness and Wellness Awards of Excellence Greg Oliver, Chief Executive and Managing Director of the Fitness and Lifestyle Group, has been named Executive of the Year at the APAC Fitness and Wellness Awards of Excellence. Presented during World Health, Fitness and Wellness Week in Singapore, the Awards recognise leading companies and executives from across health, fitness, wellness and hospitality in the Asia-Pacific region. With a career in the fitness industry spanning 40 years, Oliver is regarded as one of the world’s most respected fitness executives. Phillip Mills, founder and Executive Director of Les Mills International, received the 2021 Lifetime Achievement Award at the Awards.

Jerril Rechter departs from Chief Executive role at Basketball Australia Jerril Rechter, Chief Executive of Basketball Australia since February 2019, left the role as of 1st April. Rechter’s departure from the role comes just months before the Boomers and Opals contest the Tokyo Olympics and follows the release of a review of the sport by the Australian Human Rights Commission, which detailed claims of a “white boys’ club” mentality and casual racism limiting opportunities for players and staff within the organisation. Marking the departure of another head of a major sport in Australia Rechter’s leaving, reportedly on good terms, is believed to have come about due to a frustration at being able to effect cultural change with the sport. Commenting on her departure, Rechter stated “I am pleased to have had the opportunity to lead Basketball Australia and to achieve outcomes in the areas of diversity, growth, participation and high performance.”

ASM Global APAC appoints new General Manager at Dubai’s Coca-Cola Arena ASM Global APAC has announced that Coca-Cola Arena’s Mark Jan Kar will be promoted to the new role of General Manager as part of a restructure following the recent resignation of current Chief Executive Guy Ngata. Kar who is currently the Arena’s Director - Commercial & Live, will assume the role on 20th June following the departure of Ngata who is returning to New Zealand.

Vale: Adam Lloyd Australasian Leisure Management has been advised of the death of Adam Lloyd, Director of International Quadratics. Our team offers condolences and sympathy to his family, friends and colleagues.



VERVE Fitness has announced that industry veteran, Xenophon Angelides has joined its team as National Key Accounts Manager. Rebecca Barry has taken up the role of Director, People and Culture for ASM Global’s Asia Pacific operations. Swimming Australia has named dual Olympic gold medallist, Alex Baumann, as its new Chief Executive. Tennis Australia has announced the appointment of Katrina Blair as its new Chief Financial Officer. Les Mills Asia Pacific (LMAP) has announced the appointment of Anna Burdekin to its team in the role of Business Partnership Manager, with a focus on club partners in NSW. International Convention Centre Sydney has welcomed Martin Clapham to the role of Director of Business Services. Melbourne United Chief Executive, Vince Crivelli has been named Chief Operating Officer at the National Basketball League - taking up the job at the end of the current NBL season. Tasman Tourism has appointed industry innovator Nikki Fisher as its new Chief Executive. World Rugby has appointed Alan Gilpin as its new Chief Executive to replace Brett Gosper. Architects dwp design worldwide have appointed 106 Director Dion Gosling as Design Director and Sector Leader, focusing on sports and recreation facilities. HG Turf Group has announced the appointment of Nathan Humphreys as State Manager for NSW, responsible for growing HG Turf Group’s business in the state. Basketball Australia has appointed Jo Juler as Executive General Manager - Marketing, Communications and Digital. Mark Korda has become the 13th President of Collingwood FC, replacing Eddie McGuire who resigned earlier this year. David Levy has been named as Chairman of the Genius Sports Group - a leading provider of sports data and technology powering the sports, betting and media ecosystem. Viva Leisure has named Gordon Martin as Head of Franchising as part of plans to expand the Plus Fitness network. Christine McLoughlin has been appointed as Destination NSW’s new Chair, tasked with leading the recovery of the state’s visitor economy.

PerfectGym releases new Pool Assessments Module Complementing their already extensive courses module, PerfectGym have released a courses-based learn-to-swim assessment module that allows for instructors and deck officers to easily view and access their current and upcoming classes - with the ability to alter child skills - which in turn allows for changing and progressing the child level via a clean, fast and easy to use application. Developed through consultation with Perth’s Cockburn ARC and other various local government authorities and designed for the ARC’s launch of PerfectGym in Q4 2020, the Pool Assessment Module is a fully integrated module and subset of the PerfectGym application suite, and is able to leverage real time changes to participants’ classes and personal information. The ability to view from the assessments module, medical conditions and profile information, in addition to adding notes and triggering automations to parents in relation to level changes, has enabled a more accurate and user friendly experience for teachers and facilities as a whole. The removal of the need to run a manual sync or refresh of data within a third-party module has meant that facilities can confidently know that students’ skills and progress are accurate each time the module is used. In addition to knowing that utilising the PerfectGym Access Control modules, will ensure that class attendances will happen in real time as students scan, greatly assists identifying at risk students, non-attendance and provides for the use of the PerfectGym Automation centre for parent communications. Contact 1300 088 922, E:,

Robert Novotny has taken on the role of Head of Partnerships at fast-growing and award-winning data and technology company ActiveXchange. Tenpin Bowling Australia has appointed Rohan O’Neill to the position of Chief Executive and Damien Smith to the newly created role of Chief Operating Officer. Ros Pullen has been promoted to the role of General Manager at Raging Waters Sydney. Rackley Swimming has appointed Rio Olympic Team swimming coach Richard Scarce as its new head coach at the new Miami Aquatic Centre on the Gold Coast. The Victorian Government has appointed Sarah Styles as the state’s new Director of its Office for Women in Sport and Recreation, replacing the outgoing Dr Bridie O’Donnell. Peninsula Leisure has appointed Katherine Thom as its new Chief Executive to spearhead the successful operation of Frankston City Council’s popular aquatic facilities. Baseball Australia has announced the appointment of former Major League Baseball player and Olympic silver medallist, Glenn Williams, as its new Chief Executive. Jennah Wootten has been appointed as the new Chief Executive of Aktive, replacing Dr Sarah Sandley who stepped down after seven years in the role.

Eco Gym Wipes offer sustainable option for hygiene in gyms and fitness centres Newly launched product Eco Gym Wipes are offering gyms and fitness centres a more environmentally friendly way to manage the threat of COVID-19 and other germs in their facilities. Produced as an alternative to synthetic and single use chemically derived cloths, Eco Gym Wipes allow gym exercisers to clean down equipment post-use with a reusable and ethically produced product. Made from bamboo fabric that can be reused after machine washing, the product offers, according to Isabella Somers, Creator and Director of Eco Gym Wipes, “a superior choice for gym participants and gym operators through the delivery of health and sustainability in a more cost effective manner than current alternatives.” Contact 0402 407 242, E: Australasian Leisure Management Issue 144 61


Walltopia announces new equipment lease financing program Leading climbing wall and active entertainment manufacturer Walltopia has introduced its Equipment Lease Financing Program with special payment terms designed to support business owners who want to continue their growth in 2021. Introducing the finance package, a Walltopia statement advises “the COVID-19 crisis presented an enormous challenge to all climbing and active entertainment businesses. Most of them were either closed or operated at limited capacity through 2020. As more of them are finally reopening the air is filled with the enthusiasm of both the visitors and the owners.” Walltopia’s financing program offers special payment terms for clients signing a contract in 2021 and is open for new agreements for both climbing and active entertainment products. Contact Walltopia on +359 2 448 5744, E:, Walltopia’s Australian agents Climb ICP on 0455 559 592, E:,

Myzone launches MZ Switch mobile heart rate monitor 10 years after it first exhibited its technology, Myzone has unveiled the MZ Switch, a new heart rate tracker that can be worn three different ways. Joining the existing Myzone belt which sits on the sternum, the MZ Switch rate monitor can also be worn on the wrist or forearm depending on users’ choice of physical activity. The interchangeable, waterproof heart rate monitor enables users to continue monitoring their performance when exercising outside as well as now being operational in aquatic environments. Described as the “world’s first interchangeable heart rate monitor for the gym, outdoors or in water”, the MZ Switch system sees people collecting MEPs - exercise points - and working on their MEP rankings for motivation. The new technology is built off the back of the existing Myzone infrastructure, enabling the company to extend its reach into the wider activity, consumer and wellness markets. Contact 03 5292 8959, E:,

Starzcom partners with Gymnastics Clubs Australia AlphaFit unveils functional rig attached hip thruster with patent pending locking system AlphaFit has announced the launch of the latest addition to its comprehensive range of Australian made rig attachments, the new Rig Attached Hip Thruster, a multi-use piece of equipment that represents a massive space saver for any commercial or home gym. The compact construction of the Rig Attached Hip Thruster removes the necessity of having a full-length bench or a bulky stand-alone Hip Thruster machine while its innovative design features the industry-first patent-pending Latch Pin, designed to provide intuitive ease of use and solid stability once secured to any AlphaFit Rig or Cage. Contact 1300 257 428, E:, 62 Australasian Leisure Management Issue 144

Starzcom, the New Zealand-based top producer of inflatable gym equipment, has established a partnership with Gymnastics Clubs Australia Limited (GCA). The partnership with Starzcom will enable GCA club members to learn about Starzcom’s new products and get access to their premium quality equipment at promotional prices. Starzcom products will be available to GCA members at a 10% discount, while all other gymnastics clubs in Australia will get 5% off on their purchases. Clubs will also be able to pass on the discount code to their customers for home purchases, which will add more value to their services. The partnership with GCA will allow Starzcom to use the newly-formed peak industry body’s influence to market their inflatable gym mats to new, highly relevant user groups. Contact +64 21 799 097, E:,


ProSlide unveils game-changing KidzADVENTURE Tower ProSlide Technology Inc., one of the world’s leading water ride design, technology, and manufacturing businesses has released details of the new attraction under its WaterKINGDOM suite of family attractions - the KidzADVENTURE Tower. Comprised of a customisable suite of ProSlide waterslides anchored onto a single, dedicated structure, the KidzADVENTURE Tower (KAT) is an innovative and radical addition to WaterKINGDOM that made its debut in April as part of the much anticipated waterpark expansion at Atlantis Aquaventure in Dubai. Located in Atlantis Aquaventure’s Splasher’s Cove family area, ProSlide’s Chief Commercial Officer, Ray Smegal advises that the KAT takes inspiration from ProSlide’s expansive collection of water rides, commenting “it’s a culmination of ProSlide’s 35 years of expert water ride design. “We’ve combined the thrills of our iconic adult rides along with the safety and design of our groundbreaking Kidz rides to create a truly innovative attraction that is unlike anything else in the market.” The rides featured on the KAT are a unique addition to ProSlide’s stable of rides in that they are smaller than the traditional adult rides, but larger than the company’s Kidz rides. Contact: +1 613 526 5522, E:,

Theatre North improves entry experiences with access control solution Theatre North, the independent, not-for-profit performing arts company located at Launceston’s historic Princess Theatre, has used’s mobile all-in-one access control solution to provide a frictionless venue entry experience. Theatre North and have shared a ticketing relationship since 1999, with the arts company using the ProVenue ticketing software since 2014 for all its events. With the past year and the COVID-19 pandemic having created unprecedented challenges for temporary closures and new restrictions, the team at Theatre North was keen to welcome patrons back into the venue for ‘Coming Home’, a community-led fundraiser held in September. With a safety-first approach and eager to meet all of the recommended guidelines, Theatre North took the opportunity to trial, Alfred™, the mobile all-in-one access control solution. Hayley Dobbs, General Manager - Asia Pacific explained “with so much change in the live experience industry, Theatre North has been strategic by testing new technology and solutions to fit their venue and their patrons.” Contact 1300 785 851, E:,

EasyGate SPT ‘future-proofs’ Sydney’s new Gunyama Park Aquatic and Recreation Centre The City of Sydney’s Gunyama Park Aquatic and Recreation Centre, has future-proofed its facility with revolutionary entrance gates. The largest pool complex built in Sydney since the 2000 Olympics, the facility has had a steady number of visitors since it opened its doors in the rapidly-growing Green Square neighbourhood in February. Andrew Burges Architects, along with Grimshaw and Taylor Cullity Lethlean, won a City of Sydney design competition for the project and chose Centaman Entrance Control’s EasyGate SPT to automatically keep visitors flowing through the busy $106 million complex. Explaining that the architects intended entry to the facility to be like an urban living room, and movement through the centre is carefully orchestrated to create separate zones, Centaman Entrance Control General Manager, Michael Bystram advised “we wanted to work with the architects to provide entrance control gates that matched their vision.” The complex has two sets of three-lane gates at the main reception and one at the gym entrance on level 1 of the building, with each set having two lanes for entry and one for exiting. Fitted out with Centaman’s Magnetic Direct Drive motor, the SPT model offers quiet operation and fast opening and closing times, for speedy throughput and high security. The gates have waist-height glass barriers, rather than the common 1.8metre height, so they do not detract from the building’s aesthetic, which was inspired by the beach pools of Sydney. When members sign up to the state-of-the-art gym or pool, they are issued membership cards or radio-frequency identification tags that can be scanned at the entrance gates for instant access. The EasyGate SPT works with the facility’s leisure management system and is future-proofed with the possibility of setting up an iPad point-of-sale system. Self-service kiosks help to ease customer congestion at reception and allow staff to help customers with queries and membership sales. The kiosks have been invaluable for the facility while COVID-19 is in the community because they help to reduce queues, making social distancing easier. Colour-coded lights alert users when they can safely pass through the gates and differentiate between entry and exit points. Contact 02 9906 7522,

Australasian Leisure Management Issue 144 63


Reopened Wentworthville Memorial Swim Centre includes new Life Floor splashpad Cumberland City Council’s Wentworthville Memorial Swim Centre has reopened in Sydney with features including a new Life Floor splashpad, alongside a 25 metre program pool with beach entry leisure pool, and general upgrade to all amenity buildings. Following the successful completion of the Ruth Everuss Aquatic Centre in 2017, NBRS Architecture was engaged by Cumberland City Council in 2019 to provide upgrade concepts for their four remaining aquatic centres. NBRS Architecture provided the tender documentation to Cumberland City Council and were then engaged by Omnistruct to complete the design during construction. The entire site has been redesigned into a state-of-the art facility that celebrates its mid-1960s heritage. NBRS Architecture Life and Culture Studio Aquatics Expert Derek Mah adds “the circular shaped splashpad features Life Floor tiles in a unique five colour geometric design. The installation is the first of its type in Sydney for a local government aquatic facility. “Until now, splashpads have provided a dilemma for the architect in terms of the floor finish selection. The industry is familiar with experiences of adhesion issues with resilient pool flooring materials. While concrete finishes are good for longevity and slip resistance, they are unforgiving when little ones trip and fall. We believe we have found a material that can perform well in all respects without compromise. It made me smile on opening day as I watched a toddler stumble and fall onto the Life Floor, then get right back up again without tears.” Contact 1300 721 135, E:,

Embed initiatives help with amusement sector recovery Amusement sector point-of-sale and revenue management systems Embed is helping the sector recover with a range of initiatives including the Mobile Wallet and wearable media empowering, enabling and easing the business of fun. Embed Chief Executive, Renee Welsh notes “2021 is an opportunity for us to rebuild, survive and thrive with everything we learned last year. We’ve proven that we’re more resilient and creative than any other industry (seeing) our customers prosper and thrive during the pandemic simply by embracing the right technology to unlock a more sustainable and profitable business model.” Embed’s low-touch and contact-free payment system Mobile Wallet enables businesses to mitigate health risks related to COVID-19, backed by a plug-and-play creative package of printed marketing materials, enabling operators to drive uptake and adoption of the Mobile Wallet with their customers, driving return visits and accelerating their recovery. Contact 02 8798 9199, E:, 64 Australasian Leisure Management Issue 144

Clublinks announce launch of Technogym’s SkillAthletic at DeakinACTIVE gym and fitness centre Clublinks have announced the launch of Technogym’s SkillAthletic training experience at the new DeakinACTIVE gym and fitness centre in Burwood – the first of its kind in Victoria. The new SkillAthletic classes at DeakinACTIVE Burwood are available not just for Deakin University students and staff but for the general community and public to attend as well. Technogym’s SkillAthletic training was developed through Technogym’s long standing experience as official supplier to the last seven Olympic Games and its collaboration with the best teams and sports champions around the world! Using Technogym equipment, the SkillAthletic method aims at improving athletic performance and offers a wide range of workouts based on the four SkillAthletic training abilities – Power, Agility, Speed and Stamina; that can be performed at different scales of difficulty, allowing people with varied levels of physical skill and ability to participate in the same training class. Contact 1800 615 440, E:,

Polin Waterparks offer innovative solutions for Camping and Caravan Parks Polin Waterparks has advised that during the COVID-19 outbreak in 2020, they completed more than 30 camping projects including Polin’s signature waterslides such as the world’s first fully transparent composite waterslide, Glassy. Polin offer many special products and designs to holiday parks, and aquatic centres to improve the activity in the facility with their products such as water play structures, spray parks, and animations. These products can be customised according to the facility’s need. Polin highlight that like many other market segments - from theme parks, cruise ships to recreational facilities, campgrounds are eager to give guests thrilling waterpark experiences during their visits. The sector including campgrounds, caravan parks, recreation vehicle parks, and glamping has emerged from a low-cost tourism niche to a mainstream, versatile recreation experience, valued at different levels by different segments. Sparked by personal and interpersonal needs for escape, socialisation, freedom, and discovery, and pulled by product and service improvements, the sector has repositioned itself as an alternative form of accommodation or lifestyle. Contact Polin’s local distributors Swimplex Aquatics on 1300 796 759, E:,

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Event Operations Australia establishes EventMploy to connect event organisers with event professionals In an events and festival industry first - Event Operations Australia has established EventMploy - a website and App that solves the problem of event organisers and venue operators finding skilled event professionals for fixed date contracts. The initiative was launced 12 months on from the shutting down of the 2020 Australian Grand Prix and every other event in Australia due to COVID-19. Designed for the events and hospitality industries EventMploy connects event organisers and event professionals (freelancers) based on skills, availability and location. Currently available in Australia the site will also be launched internationally. Wherever events are staged EventMploy can help organisers find freelancers and freelancers find work. Explaining why this type of program is needed in the industry, EventMploy Founder Lisa Price notes “after working on both sides of the problem, as an event organiser trying to find freelancers and as a freelancer trying to find work I knew there had to be a better way. Freelancers spend up to two hours a week trying to find their next gig and organisers have to trawl through Facebook feeds, their contacts lists or place ads with traditional recruiters to find people using precious time when they could be working on their event.” More information about the service can be found at

John Fisher Park netball courts resurfaced with Plexipave The sporting superhub at John Fisher Park in Sydney’s Northern Beaches’ Curl Curl now boasts 25 upgraded hard surface netball courts with the courts having been resurfaced with California Sports Surfaces’ Plexipave sports surfacing system - nine were relaid with new bitumen and net posts. Northern Beaches Mayor Michael Regan said the courts look magnificent and will be particularly busy, particularly on Saturday mornings, with enthusiastic netballers. “It’s great to see so many sportsmen and women enjoying the facilities at John Fisher Park across a wide spectrum of sports. “The netball courts, in particular, are in heavy demand and we are very pleased they are in top condition to handle a full schedule of training and competitions.” Manly Warringah Netball Association (MWNA) Secretary Cathy Hurditch said the upgrades will improve the quality of games played which will enable players of all ages, genders and abilities the opportunity to participate in netball. “MWNA is extremely grateful for the support from Northern Beaches Council in making the improvements for the commencement of the Winter 2021 Season.” Contact 1800 786 617,,


APT Asia Pacific adds new components to their playground rubber surfaces line Synthetic and acrylic sports and recreation surfaces leader APT has announced the expansion of their playground rubber component line, with two new product brands set to brighten playgrounds across the country. For over 25 years APT Asia Pacific has been manufacturing and supplying Australian-made Olympic and Grand Slamquality surfaces, from their ISO-certified manufacturing plant in Melbourne, Australia. Along with over 100 types of synthetic turf, APT is also the leader in acrylic and polyurethane surfaces including playgrounds, athletic tracks, tennis and netball courts, and indoor sports flooring. Now the company has introduced Ecolastic® POP and Ecolastic® NEO to their playground surface portfolio - new products that bring a new level of colour, fun and variety to the softfall floor market. Manufactured by Fairmont Industries in Malaysia, Ecolastic® POP and Ecolastic® NEO enables APT Asia Pacific to offer a far more comprehensive selection of granules across various price points. Ecolastic® POP and Ecolastic® NEO are perfect for playground and recreational facility applications, are competitively priced, and each come in 12 vibrant colours. Contact APT Asia Pacific on 1800 652 548, E:

Vivaticket Australia celebrates successful 2020 and progresses with new developments in 2021. Vivaticket Australia has advised that despite the challenges of 2020, the year for Vivaticket and its leading Ticketing and CRM solution was one of much success, triumph and tenacity. Vivaticket continued to flourish - welcoming new valued customers to the Vivaticket family including Tasmania’s Ten Days on the Island (pictured), SEA Museum (Australian National Maritime Museum), Civic Theatre Newcastle, Civic Theatre Townsville, Burdekin Theatre and installed at all three of the Museum Victoria sites. In line with its growing customer base, Vivaticket Australia continues to adapt and enhance where necessary, to produce unparalleled services, and a leading solution for clients, and client’s patrons. Development has also continued with a number of new functionalities and enhancements. On the development front, Vivaticket Australia has been receiving some excellent feedback from local clients regarding the new version of Report Scheduler. Many clients are now scheduling reports on their mobile phones due its convenience. Contact 07 3051 4800, E:, Australasian Leisure Management Issue 144 65

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After two years of extensive testing, Granville Harris of Hyclor Commercial has announced a world first for commercial filtration. Harris explains “two years ago, we floated the idea of making commercial sized filters from Food Grade Poly. “Being told from many sectors that it couldn’t be done just made us even more determined and finding an engineer in the UK with more than 20 years experience in this material eventually led to success.” Harris advised “mindful that we needed the filter to withstand the exacting expectations of Australian Standards and harsh conditions of climate, after much testing, we have now produced a filter that not only is engineered to 400kpa deadhead pressure but is pulse tested to last beyond 30 years with minimal maintenance.” Hyclor wanted to produce a filter for aquaculture that didn’t require expensive vinyl-ester lining to protect the animals being grown. As a result, pure Food Grade material was the answer. Harris added “pure product also comes with the advantage of saving on maintenance, as there is no need for expensive relining throughout its life, which translates to less down time - another saving. “The design also has the advantage of being able to take standard bed or deep bed depths without change. These benefits not only work for aquaculture but are equally relevant in the swimming pool industry.” Being climate care conscious, the filter is also designed with environmental considerations in mind and the pure food grade poly is fully recyclable at end of life, unlike traditional fibreglass filters that end up as non-degradable land fill. Harris continued “when married to our Climate Care Certified, K+ Filter Media, it’s the ideal combination for efficient and effective filtration that offers significant savings on power costs and thousands of litres of water.” The filter is immediately available in K+ or Standard Media models in 1200mm diameter size but the complete model range will shortly extend from 620mm through to 2500mm when fully compiled. Highlights: •Commercial sized filters utilising Food Grade Poly •Engineered to Australian Standards & harsh conditions of climate •Relevant & adaptable from Aquaculture to the Swimming Pool industry Benefits: •Flexible - able to take standard bed or deep bed depths without change •Versatile - can be used across multi-industries •Efficient & Effective Filtration - with K+ Filter Media combination •Substantial Savings on power costs & thousands of litres of water •Quality Engineering - Withstands 400kpa deadhead pressure and pulse tested to last beyond 30 years with minimal maintenance Contact Granville Harris on 0414 880 374, E:

INTIX named preferred ticketing supplier for 92 leagues and 1,200 clubs in VFL and VFLW Boutique ticketing technology company INTIX is working with AFL Victoria to supply ticketing services for its metropolitan and country leagues and clubs for 2021. Aimed at helping local leagues and clubs meet COVIDSafe requirements in Victoria, having a preferred ticketing solution in place is one of a number of services made available by AFL Victoria to support its 92 leagues and 1,200 clubs. Advising that the locally-based business is proud to be working with AFL Victoria, as one of the only fully Australian owned and run ticketing platforms, for this initiative, INTIX Chief Executive, Alex Grant stated “since the pandemic and restrictions hit Victoria in early 2020, we have been working hard at INTIX to support local sports and events to digitise ticketing and better meet COVIDSafe requirements.” Contact E:,



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