Mirror. Signal. Manoeuvre.

I think that, for businesses, individuals or indeed our entire industry, it’s important to know where we have been in order to plan where we are going.
When John Dawes contacted me at the end of last year, you really could have knocked me down with a feather.

Not only was he talking about a recent article he’d read about the Wet Leisure Survey, which I’d published on LinkedIn, but here was a man who is a part of the very fabric of the industry, offering me a record of his life’s work. An archive of 8 boxes containing 100 kilos of books, articles, technical papers and data sheets.

And it made me think just how important the history of our industry should be to all of us.

A postcard from Brighton.

It’s SPATEX time of year again and this will be the Fifth year at the Richo Arena and it already feels like that is the natural venue for the show to be held. The idea of having a wet leisure industry show in, say, Brighton seems frankly a little strange.

But it was really only yesterday when we would all pack our buckets and spades and head off to the seaside.

And yet, things have changed. The industry wanted a better venue that offered easier access and set up for exhibitors and visitors. They wanted that venue to be in a more central location and falling exhibitor numbers made it pretty clear just how much they wanted that. The industry voted with its feet.

There was something else as well. Our industry was changing and it no longer really suited Brighton. We were moving away from kiss-me-quick hats and rainbow striped li-los. Coventry was the future and the future was glossier, more technologically advanced and more environmentally aware. You know, in the way that futures are meant to be.

So when you stand in the middle of the Ericsson Hall this year, take a moment to think back and then you too can feel pleased with how far we have come.

A pie-chart from Barnstaple.

Of course it’s all very well having a ‘feeling’ about how much our industry has changed and in what ways, but some of us like hard facts. Some of us like data!

This will be the seventh year of the Wet Leisure Industry Survey and, as usual, the report and analysis will be published and made freely available to everyone who attends SPATEX. (It’s also available to download from goldenc.com or view on-line at wetleisure.com) The report runs to about four thousand words and has plenty of graphs, charts and tables.

The purpose behind it, and the reason we get the full support of the BSPF in promoting it every year, is to inform business owners in our industry of market trends and to give them the knowledge that they need to make better business planning decisions.

It’s also starting to become a detailed history of the wet leisure industry here in the UK. The differences between one year and the next may be relatively minor but when you look back over several years it is clear to see how our industry has developed and grown.

A clear indicator.

It’s only by looking back, and having archives and memories and surveys to look back on, that proper trends can be identified. As one famous statistician once said, ‘One data point doesn’t make a trend.’

But there are trends that can be clearly seen and they show us, they signal, where our industry is headed. We will become more environmentally aware and we will offer our customers ways to use less energy and produce less pollution. We will take away our customers need to maintain their own pools by offering service contracts or by installing automated control systems and we will use social media to advertise all this.

These, and other trends that we can now clearly see, would have sounded like science fiction if they had been talked about in Brighton all those years ago but the thing about change is that, in business, it is the only constant.

Moving forward…

We’ve just entered a new year and, hard Brexit, soft Brexit or what Brexit, the UK is soon going to have a new place in the world’s trade structure. The future is full of possibilities and the future is full of uncertainty but it’s a future I have a lot of confidence in.

If you look at just how many innovative new products have been brought to market in recent years.

If you look at how we have embraced the changes in people’s attitudes to health and wellbeing and responded to them.

If you look at just how far we have moved with the times.

If you look at all that, you are looking at an industry that we can all be proud, and confidant, to be a part of.

And John’s 100 kilos of books? That archive is being catalogued by Golden Coast and we hope to be able to host much of it on wetleisure.com so that it becomes a resource we all share.