Super Aqua Club is the largest waterpark destination in Canada, located 30 minutes from Montreal. It features around 45 attractions, including 42 slides, a water coaster, a heated wave pool, a lazy river, thrill rides, wild rivers, and a beach.
St-Amant’s background is in PR; she worked for L’Oréal Canada for over 10 years.
“L’Oréal Canada is really pushing to be entrepreneurial. I think this is really what made me realise something was, for me, missing,” she says. “I liked people, but I wanted to manage my own business. This is the point where – with my Godfather – I got the chance to buy the company. I’m so happy with my decision right now.”
Nadine St-Amant and Super Aqua Club
Nadine St-Amant bought Super Aqua Club in May 2019. She says:
“We are trying to offer a diversified attraction. When I bought the park, I thought it was missing something. It’s fine to do a ride, but it’s always better to entertain. I wanted to create an environment where families and friends would have happy memories of their day when they leave the park.”
The most impactful of several innovations this year has been the update of online ticketing and booking. This is alongside the incorporation of RFID wristbands. These make the guest experience frictionless and mean no-one has to keep returning to their locker to retrieve their wallet every time they wish to make a purchase.
“It was when I was looking for a solution that I first found Connect&GO. I liked the approach of using RFID bands to allow people to interact.”
A stress-free experience
She realised the technology had the potential to make the experience stress-free for guests. And to reduce queues at the park entrance.
“With the RFID, people buy their passes online, then come and get their wristbands scanned in. When they go to the lockers, they scan the wristband. They can load money onto it, and use it at the restaurant or bar. It removes the need to fetch their wallet from their locker: there are no pockets in bathing suits.”
As well as the practical considerations, the technology has been used to enhance the experience:
“We also work with Kool Replay, which is integrated with the Connect&GO system.”
Kool Replay is a system that uses connected capture technology. It enables guests to take and share edited, branded video content, with multiple view-points using a cloud-based distribution platform.
“Video capture is activated when people start at the top of the Tornado ride,” she says. “After the ride, they receive a video of themselves on the ride. They can buy it, or just have a little preview for Snapchat or Instagram. We realized that people really, really liked it.”
Super Aqua Club and Connect&GO
Incorporating the technology has, she says, been transformative:
“Even at the entrance, I see a lot of people coming in, realising they have to scan their wristbands, and saying: ‘Wow, it’s like Disney!’ It’s such a simple thing – just a wristband that you scan. But people are finding it really special. It’s a way of having people connect in a different way.”
For guests, the wristbands differentiate the experience, making it stress-free and fun. At the same time, the frictionless system encourages people to spend more money.
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“It’s a win, win situation,” says St-Amant. “For me, as the owner, what I like is because of the RFID, I have access to a lot of data that I didn’t have before.
“I have a dashboard that gives me real-time information. So, I can see at a glance how many people are on the site, their ages, and other consumer information.
“As the owner, I can say, for example, there are a lot of kids today, so this attraction might be more popular, or this one. It means I can adapt and manage differently, in terms of both demographics and time. If I watch the flow of people, I can see when it’s a good time to let more people enter, or to do a promo. It makes it easier to adapt and adjust the business efficiently.”
Health and safety
Super Aqua Club welcomes around 160,000 visitors per season and has a staff of 300. It has undergone several adaptations to minimise health risks to employees and visitors. This includes the renovation of the administrative offices and creation of 14 new dressing rooms.
Signage has been altered, the capacity of attractions revised, and certain services modified.
The Connect&GO technology is a particularly useful feature to have when applying capacity limiting and distancing measures, to ensure safety.
“The capacity issue was initially a challenge for us,” says St-Amant. “But with the RFID I know exactly how many people are in. And because we have been able to learn the consumer path, we were able to sell a number online. We knew the number of staff we would need and where to deploy them because we knew the numbers and the flow of the customers.”
Once customers have bought a pass and created an online profile, they can use their connected wristband anywhere in the park.
St. Amant says:
“It really is a VIP experience. The customers love it. They stand in a special VIP line at the entrance, the first time, for a briefing. After this, they only need to scan and come in, not needing to stand in line at all.”
Technology that powers fun
For such simple technology, the RFID wristbands make a huge difference. Both to the visitor experience, and the park, in terms of per-capita spend and data collection.
“That was important to me. I couldn’t afford to invest in lots of technology for a lot of expense. We’re only open for ten weeks over the summer. So, I really liked the Connect&GO model. This is because it offers a well-structured, affordable technology.”
Having bought Super Aqua Club in May of 2019, St-Amant is beginning to realise her own vision and carry it forward:
“I have good relations with my staff. I have 300 employees working here, which is seasonal, but I also have my permanent teams. And it’s amazing.
“I work very closely with my teams and the customers. Because this is where I can understand the needs of the business. What I like is walking to the park and hearing the sound of kids laughing and screaming because they’re enjoying their day. It makes my day.
“When the park closes it’s a real transition because I don’t hear that anymore. I can’t wait to open next season to hear those sounds again.”
The relationship between Super Aqua Club and Connect&GO
Blooloop also spoke to Anthony Palermo of Connect&GO, who offered his perspective on the Super Aqua Club project.
“The story starts when we met Nadine, the new owner-operator for the waterpark in Quebec,” says Palermo. “Nadine comes with a guest-experience-first and a smart marketing mentality. She has been out in the corporate world and has worked with different types of businesses, observing consumer engagement.”
“When she came to this relatively traditional industry, she wanted to use the most cutting edge tools to understand her guests. So, she approached us and said, ‘I want the entire Connect&GO platform,’, which includes our e-commerce, ticketing, access control, cashless payments and experiential modules.”
The COVID-19 pandemic has meant Connect&GO have had to add timed-entry to their ticketing modules. This allows attractions to effectively spread guests throughout the day.
“We never went above 30% capacity this year, on purpose,” says Palermo. “In Nadine’s case, she was sold out a lot on that 30%. The timed entry didn’t mean people could only stay in the morning, of course. It was simply to ensure that thousands of people didn’t all show up at 10 am.”
Making life easier for visitors
Season ticket holders at Super Aqua Club are given a silicon wristband resembling a smartwatch. This fast-tracks its wearer through the entrance. It also has the Koolreplay photo and video system included for free as part of their package.
“It also includes some discounts at the point of sale,” adds Palermo.
Day pass holders got a vinyl RFID wristband. After buying their ticket, visitors register a profile, to which they can link their credit card:
“This way,” Palermo says, “your wristband is now a live credit card. You can also put a certain amount of money – $10, $15, on your child’s wristband.”
“We deployed a full point-of-sale for all the F&B, concessions, merchandise. It’s a hybrid method of payment, meaning you can pay with a credit card, you can pay with your cell phone, but you can also pay with your wristband. For those that pay with their wristband, it’s a more seamless experience. Because you’re at a water park, so won’t be carrying your wallet and your phone.
“Your locker is linked to the wristband. There are also roaming photographers going around, taking pictures. By scanning your wristband, you can load these into your account page, or receive them by email.”
Instant photo sharing
“You are not only promoting the park; you are the star of your own advertisement,” Palermo says.
This is also true of the Kool Replay video system.
“It’s a multi-angle video camera system that is usually installed around the most exciting attractions. In this case, it was installed on the Tornado.”
Higher than a seven-storey building, the Tornado is a quadruple tube slide.
“The system allows you to scan your wristband. Then it films five different angles of your experience and edits the video within seconds. Again, it is branded and sent to your email or your account page for you to share on social media.”
A frictionless experience that benefits operator and guest
Essentially, Connect&GO’s strategy was to look at all Super Aqua Club’s touchpoints and work out the most effective way of making the experience as frictionless and engaging as possible, while encouraging people to spend more.
“I know for a fact,” Palermo says, “that the spend per head was much higher this year than it’s been in the past. We’re seeing it across the industry, to an extent.
“But it is also because just tapping a wristband makes it easier to pay.”
There is a psychological aspect, too, he says:
“A wristband, unlike a phone, cash or a card, isn’t something you automatically associate with thinking about money leaving your bank balance.
“In the end, by focusing on the guest first; understanding their journey, offering them a more seamless engagement, we really were able to deliver on Nadine’s vision of a safer, more frictionless guest experience and that’s the value we look to deliver with every project.”
Images kind courtesy of Super Aqua Club