Do we need a LinkedIn for the wave pool space? Yes.
The 100+ wave pools opening in the next decade need to be staffed by qualified candidates, often times these are employees with deeper expertise than simple hospitality services work. To meet the growing demand, several companies are launching wave pool dedicated platforms to connect the right candidate with the right position.
Malakye.com put out the call for a Director of Surf Experience recently. The ad sought a qualified individual to ensure delivery of exceptional guest experience and to work directly with clients and guests on the planning, execution and coordination of their surf sessions at BSR.
The sticking point in the ad is that candidates needed at least three years of experience in a “surf resort or hospitality setting responsible for leading teams in the areas of guest service and surf.”
Such a pre-requisite limits the potential employee pool, as it’s tough to find someone in such a niche market. But that’s changing, especially when you consider that in ten years there will be an estimated 100 wave pools worldwide dedicated to surfing.
And the employment numbers today aren’t small.
“Our staff headcount varies depending on the season,” said Abby Richardson of The Wave in Bristol. “It’s between approximately 130-300 team members at any given time.”
Alaia Bay in Switzerland employs a total of 75 people. Job titles break down like this: 40 surf coaches (20 full time + 20 extra season); 10 surf park administrators; 5 maintenance workers and 20 restaurant workers.
It takes a lot of staff to ensure your surf session runs smoothly. Granted, one doesn’t need to know the difference between Beast Mode and a Malibu 2 setting to prep food in the kitchen, but the other 55 jobs are highly specialized.
This week Bruno Gujer, one of the key players behind Alaia Bay launched a wave pool dedicated platform called Wave Pool Jobs. It’s free for job seekers while employers can sign on for a small fee.
Bruno estimates that even if only half of the surf park projects on the WavePoolMag App come to fruition, it still represents more than 5000 jobs in the next 3-5 years.
“This new tool will help project owners to recruit experienced people from all over the world or even find investors and other services related to wave pools,” said Bruno. “It is going to be interesting for experienced employees to evolve in their career or for all surf coaches to be able to find a yearly full-time job or to find an additional seasonal job in the other hemisphere.”
Alaia Bay’s Surf Operations Coordinator Giovanni Piro wanted to work in surf ops after a stint at The Wave. He heard the company was hiring and interviewed. He was initially turned down.
“I really wanted to get involved in operations and not just be a customer services supervisor – I wanted to be in the water,” said Gio. “But they wanted someone fluent in French, since we’re in the French-speaking part of Switzerland, and I was turned down.”
Gio said that after five months he was fluent enough in French to take another shot at the job. This time he got hired on in the operational department and now is one of only a handful of people with intimate knowledge of how a Wavegarden Cove system works.
“For operational duties, it’s our responsibility to test the machine and make sure it’s good to go for the day,” said Gio. “I test the first wave in the morning and then we start running the first commercial sessions for the public. I then allocate staff according to who’s needed where.”
There’s a steep learning curve to the ins and outs of wave pools, especially the nuances to each different technology. Any experience in the field is extremely valuable to a potential employer. Bruno says this is what makes his site so unique.
“When I’m recruiting I’m not looking only at education, but also at experience because it’s so important,” added Bruno. “So I figured out that in our wave pool community there’re just a few in the world with experience. This shortage of experienced persons won’t stop with the exponential growth of wave pools.”