A bit of an odd phrase, but a question that gets asked repeatedly. So what does Stand Alone even mean?
Roughly 70% of the stationary wave systems are installed in locations where they play a supporting role to a number of other things. This could be a Waterpark, Hotel, Cruise Ship or even an Aquatic Center. The term Stand Alone simply means that the surfing simulator stands alone. That’s not to say that other things can’t exist in the space; it is more a concept whereby the wave IS the main attraction, and the supporting cast is all the other elements that “fuse” the venue and bring alternative revenue streams.
These alternative but synergistic revenue streams play a symbiotic roll in the function of the venue. These features often include but are not limited to a restaurant, retail, fire pits, cabanas and even play structures. There are some great examples of Stand Alone venues globally, including venues in Helsinki, Korea, and Florida. The basic idea here is that surfers come to ride a perfect man made wave, this in turn creates a show, spectators come to watch the show, they get hungry and thirsty along the way, which is the driver for the Food and Beverage. The venue as a whole, drives business to each component and each revenue stream. Similarly, people may come to eat, realize they want to surf and they then find themselves in the market for a new pair of board shorts, luckily your retail offering has the board shorts and bikinis to satisfy most curious riders.
There is a delicate balance between the size of the venue and ultimately the best ROI. Generally, the sweet spot in size is probably 10,000 sq ft but a typical Stand Alone venue could be anywhere from 6,000 sq ft to 20,000 sq ft. Because the wave is the entertainer, and sight lines to the attraction are critically important, it is key to consider elevations along with the overall size of the venue. Using a variety of elevations in the venue adds charm, viewing opportunities, and allows you to separate groups of people for parties and events with ease.
It is also important to understand the inherent differences in an outdoor venue vs. indoor. An outdoor venue is going to be less costly to build, but only works well in warmer climates. The tropics are an obvious choice as well as the southernmost parts of North America. In only parts of the world, you will need to consider indoors, and make sure you consider the implications on the venue such as air quality, HVAC, etc.
The Stand Alone concept is one of the fastest growing and most exciting sectors. The industry has seen expansion in this market as the face of retail as we know, will never be the same. As shopping centers and mass merchants continue to struggle, space availability continues to climb. With this availability increase comes an increase in Entertainment Based Retail or “Retailtainment.” This is exactly the void that can be filled.
There is a lot of information available about this market, so do your due diligence, visit existing venues, talk to manufacturers and learn everything you can about fusing great food and beverage with entertainment and a simulated surfing experience.