As the trend for surf parks continues to take off, Colliers, the destination development expert, has provided its expertise for several projects including The Wave in Bristol and Adventure Parc Snowdonia. In fact, after advising on the early stage planning of around 20 such schemes, the company has seen first hand that the demand for the concept is high, with visitors willing to pay for high-quality surf.
Now, the company is well-positioned to discuss what makes a surf park successful, and it has learned that looking at the bigger picture is key. While the surfing experience itself is central, operators also need to take into account whether the destination caters to all of its visitors, in order to create a diversified business that can succeed in the long term.
The audience is key
Colliers says that the audience is the critical ingredient to a successful destination. Successful surf park projects, like The Wave and Adventure Parc Snowdonia, do the research to find out who their audience will be, and what they want. For most destinations, they will be catering to a wide range of visitors, from serious surfers to those looking for a different and fun day out, or a way to learn a new skill.
In addition, there will be non-surfers who enjoy the spectacle, so making the surf park an attractive place to hang out and socialise is a good move. Surf parks will also need to cater to the surfing industry and group markets, which will bring team events, coaching, media and functions.
Talking about this consideration stage, Matt Hyslop, destination consulting lead at Colliers, says:
“A surf park needs to consider what roles different elements play and why. This can be broken down into attractors, infrastructure and services. Attractors provide the reason for the visit, principally the surf lagoon, but what about other things to do – things that are low skill, dry or indoors? The infrastructure enables an easy visit and involves functional things like car parking, signage, good toilets and showers.
“Services satisfy visitor needs and drive spending – and very importantly – involve good staff layering on a great customer experience. This might include food, drink, hospitality, retail, events and overnight accommodation.”
Adventure Parc Snowdonia
A holistic destination will encourage repeat visits, reduce seasonality, extend dwell time and build a number of revenue lines.
For example, Adventure Parc Snowdonia, home of Surf Snowdonia. Here, the surf lagoon is the anchor attractor, with supporting hospitality and surf school facilities, and has been a hit since opening. But operators have also added other outdoor activities such as a zipline, aerial adventures, a ninja assault course and even caving. To build on this, it is now expanding its overnight accommodation, to create a full resort experience.
“The continued development of the sector and successful openings is building confidence in the proof of concept and consumer demand,” adds Hyslop. “The next layer for securing investment and long-term success is making sure a surfing project is about more than surfing.”
The Wave inland surf attraction opened in 2019 and Colliers provided market viability and business planning services for the project.