The Wave makes good after British House of Commons style row

Late last week The Wave Bristol announced testing and pricing plans for their new Advanced Plus and Expert Wave settings along with demo days mid-March for surfers to try it out. Up until this point, the surf park only offered beginner, intermediate and advanced waves.

But the grand rollout for Advanced Plus and Expert hit a few snags. With the cost for the Expert session listed at £95, the British surf community took The Wave to task over pricing and the non-application of Surfer Saver cards.

While it’s an ongoing process – The Wave opened last autumn under a “slow rollout” plan – meaning testing, tweaking and perfecting the whole user experience would be on going for a few months – the backlash was severe. To the non-English, the online discourse resembled the strange goings-on in the British House of Commons.

“I’m really disappointed – definitely feels that Surfing really well is now only open to the affluent. Creating the elite we have always been trying to avoid,” read one comment on The Wave’s Facebook page.

Another user typed out “£95 is WAY TOO EXPENSIVE. You may sell out your first few days to the curious rich kids, but in the long term this model will fail. All the people on here commenting really want you to succeed we are not haters !! THE SAME SESSION COSTS $79 dollars (39 quid) in Australia, I know you have massive overheads but at this price you will have an empty pool in a year or so !!! please reconsider.”

While some were constructive, others were downright abusive with quips like “I’ll do a turd in the pool.”

Despite the more heated comments, overall it became clear that while most are fans of The Wave and want to session there as much as possible, the Expert Wave price-point broke a boundary of sorts. To their credit, The Wave owned up to the pricing mistake and issued the below statement:

Thanks again for all your feedback over the weekend. It’s been good to hear from all of you & we’re sorry that the roll out of these three Experience Days has caused so much upset among our community. That was never our intention.”
“We can see that everyone is keen to try out the new waves, but that for many the proposed pricing was not right. We put our hands up and admit that we got this wrong. Pricing is a challenge for us when we run these waves, not simply because of the exclusive use of the lake on the expert wave, but also because we are adding staff to assess ability in real time, ensuring that everyone surfing is capable of riding these more challenging waves. This effectively replaces the need for a Licence to Ride & gives Advanced Plus & Expert surfers the opportunity to ride without a pre-assessment on our standard Advanced wave. We’d also like to reiterate that it’s important that anyone booking these new waves reads the detailed description on the website about the skills needed to surf them.”
While we continue to work on pricing for the longer term, we’d like to give as many of you as possible the opportunity to experience these new waves. We’re pleased to announce that the new price for surf sessions on these Experience Days will be a flat rate of £45. This price is for these three days only while we gather your feedback & get some real insight into how the waves perform for you. 
“Early Riders and Crowdfunders will be sent an email once the sessions are live to book. Surfer Savers will also be able use the surfs in their account to book these sessions. For those who’ve already booked the Advanced Plus and Expert surf sessions, we’ll be sorting out a refund of the difference.

The Expert Wave setting can be seen here. For full details on the new settings, check out the information at The Wave here.

One Facebook commenter used colourful British verbage to express their relief at The Wave’s ownership of the mistake: “That is bloody outstanding! As a pretty big critic of what’s been happening, but also willing supporter, you’ve bloody well nailed it here. Thanks for coming back with a fair proposal and for listening to all the feedback! Can’t wait to book one of those sessions!”

While we’re not excusing The Wave’s gaff (surfing is more visceral and definitely not the same as a restaurant review on Yelp!) it is ultimately very much a private business that can do whatever they want to. That said, good business was never built on pissing off clients.

Each wave pool that opens its doors is entering uncharted business territory. They are meeting challenges that can’t be learned through a TedTalk video or downloaded corporate white paper document. A dozen years down the line this will all be different as a formula is established. But for now it’s an incredibly difficult task, just ask Andrew Ross, Cheyne Magnusson, Andy Ainsworth, Aaron Trevis and Nick Hounsfield.

Craig Stoddart, The Wave CEO added, “We’ve always welcomed feedback from the surfing community and the messages we have received over the last few days have been incredibly helpful. There are many complexities to running the bigger wave settings, from the impact of stronger currents on different areas of the lake, to how we staff the sessions to ensure safety for all. We are running these three Experience Days as a chance to work together with the community and get detailed feedback from surfers on every aspect of the experience. This will allow us to make decisions about how we run the bigger wave settings going forward. We can’t wait to hear what people think of them!”

Endless Surf 2023A