Why are Swimming Pools & Spas being Managed like Subprime Mortgages?

We all remember the subprime mortgage crisis.   Low quality loans, packaged into pools, and sold as “asset-backed” securities.  As the real estate bubble popped, the value of these securities plummeted and a crisis ensued.

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The lessons learned are numerous.  Mortgage brokers and lenders raced to the bottom by approving loans from consumers who were not capable of repayment. Rating agencies provided AAA ratings on securities that were clearly not worthy. Where was the oversight?  Where was the feedback and monitoring?  Where were the best practices?  Where was the expectation and management of risk?

Many of these same issues and lessons apply to the corporate management of swimming pools, spas and water features. Despite pools (and spas) being a property’s #1 amenity, thousands of people (per the CDC) end up in the emergency room each year due to injuries from pool chemicals or bacterial outbreaks.  Costs continue to escalate. Regulations mount.  And operators struggle to meet and exceed guest expectations.

Like subprime loans, the management of recreational water (pools, spas, water features) is often considered “niche” in the overall scope of the market.  And because of this “uniqueness” they suffer from the same fate:

  • There is very little oversight. Why does a property monitor the temperature of its rooms but not that of the water chemistry? Both impact guest comfort.  The lack of oversight is counterproductive and impacts guest satisfaction / complaints / litigation.
  • Best practices and brand standards across a property or portfolio of properties are rarely implemented. Walk into one pool pump room and one will often see completely different equipment from another room just feet away.  Furthermore, way too often properties have no records of install dates, warranty coverage and more.  This lack of standards and information directly impacts maintenance, purchasing costs and training.
  • There is no evaluation and monitoring of the resources being used and the costs being expended. How much water do your water features use?  How much electricity? How much labor is being expended?  How can you reduce by 30% if you have no baseline?

At VivoAquatics, we hope to change these dynamics.  We internally talk about an “Aquatic Revolution” which we envision as a change in how the industry manages recreational water. Properties can reduce costs and improve guest satisfaction through the 24/7 monitoring of water, and through the installation of energy efficiency equipment and sustainable technologies.  They can also benefit through improved tracking of assets and equipment, and more tightly connecting with service providers.

Over the past few years we have been fortunate to partner with leading hospitality companies who share this passion for change.  In 2017, we look forward to sharing this mission more broadly and pushing even harder to connect devices and provide key data points to operators to help them make the best decisions for the safety of their guests and the well-being of their facilities.