The wave pool world gets its own bespoke ticketing system

The custom booking system at The Wave Bristol has evolved to such a point that the company is now marketing the platform to surf parks around the world.

Surf parks rarely follow a one-size-fits-all program. When The Wave Bristol opened in 2019, instead of using generic ticketing platforms that didn’t align with the emerging market of wave pools, they decided to create their own solution. And after years of tweaks and improvements through trial and error, they are ready to share it with the world. 

The product is WaveScapes. Built in partnership with the global ticketing platform Vivaticket, it’s the software that The Wave has been using to run their operations since they launched four years ago. It’s the only product of its kind that is built specifically for wave pools. In addition to managing the customer experience for booking sessions, the software’s key features include the waiver and check in process, integration of discounts and special offerings, membership and database management, equipment rentals, and data insights.

Creating a solution that would eventually be marketed and sold to other wave pools was always a part of The Wave’s original vision when building the product. Now that it’s been fine-tuned in Bristol, they are opening it up to the burgeoning world of surf parks. URBNSURF in Melbourne is the first adopter, employing the system at their Melbourne pool and soon-to-open Sydney pool. Between these locations, they’ve already had around 500,000 customers go through the platform.

The Wave
Drone view of The Wave Bristol. The crew here discovered quickly that amusement park and water park ticketing systems did not fit the needs of a surf park. So the team developed their own system that they are now offering to other surf parks.

“We’ve done the hard yards and have a solution that works in the space,” said Chris Wootton, Senior Manager of WaveScapes. “When you are first to the market with a product, you learn from your mistakes. We made mistakes and did things wrong. And we adapted. From a customer perspective, they don’t have to make those mistakes. Our solutions can fast track them to a robust solution that will help with their operations.”

“All of your revenue from surfing flows through this tool – retail and food and beverage as well,” The Wave CEO, Hazel Geary, added. “It’s the backbone of your operations, so choosing the right system to support it is crucial. Having one that understands the pain points of a surf park is critical. It saves costs. You don’t have to invest in multiple platforms.”

WaveScapes highlights their experience in the surf park space as a key differentiator. The product was built by a wave pool with wave pools in mind. Plus, it is constantly evolving and adapting to the wave pool market. It’s not a static product purchase. While there are many competing ticketing solution products in the market, WaveScapes has discovered that those alterantives generally lack flexibility and customization.

“(With Wavescapes) you get a really detailed customer journey around their experience, for all the different types of people who are trying to book sessions,” said Geary. “There are also health and safety considerations, onsite operations, and the check in process. Those are all quite unique to the surf park industry. In addition, we help to improve conversion of people that hit the website to buy a ticket.”

Check-in machines
The check-in machines and all booking at URBNSURF are now tied into the Wavescapes booking system developed by The Wave team.

Wootton highlighted the fluctuating capacity of surf parks as another key advantage of Wavescapes. 

“The capacity management of a surf pool is difficult,” added Wootton. “It’s not a fixed capacity like a theater. The surf pool capacity changes depending on what waves you are pushing. For example, if you are pushing big waves in one area that means you can’t have a beginner lesson in another area. (This system) manages that complexity as it changes hour by hour.”

While WaveScapes was unable to divulge the exact pricing models, they explained that it is built on an initial implementation fee and then a per ticket fee. This scheme removes the burden of fixed costs for wave pools where cash flow is often seasonal.

Geary is tight lipped about where we will see the software system implemented next, but early indications create expectation that we will soon see surf parks around the world using this ticketing solution. 

“If you know where there are surf parks being opened, we are talking to the majority of them – on five continents – especially those that look similar to The Wave,” said Geary.