It was said that George Nissen, the original inventor of the trampoline, never stopped inventing. After coming up with the idea at 16 while watching a group of circus trapeze artists perform their routine, Nissen waited nearly four years before assembling the first trampoline in his parents’ garage in 1934. The original, made from stretched canvas and a steel frame was altered many times over the years; first, rubber tire tubing was added to the edges for bounce, only to be replaced by springs sometime later. During the war years, the government experimented with nylon – and so did Nissen, who replaced the canvas sheeting for a nylon webbed surface.
Over the years, Nissen added and removed features, developed, redeveloped, and scrapped an acrobatic act only to develop another, and invented a sport involving the trampoline to revive the brand’s popularity. It was only to pursue other inventions that he finally stopped producing
trampolines in the 1980s. Nissen died in 2010, ten years after testing the trampoline at the first Olympic trampoline event at the 2000 Sydney Summer Olympics, finally achieving a lifelong goal to bring trampolines to the Olympics.
If there is a moral to George Nissen’s story, it’s this – always adapt. If something isn’t working or could be working better, try something new. Once Nissen had his framework – a trampoline, the ability to perform on it, and an audience that would pay to watch – he would perform as long as interest remained and, when it waned, find a new variation on the same theme.
Most guests come to a trampoline park for the first time simply to jump; what may keep them coming back are the “bonus” attractions they didn’t know existed until they got there. Over time, however, guests may tire of seeing the same features at your trampoline park and may forgo a visit in favor of one of the 800 or so other parks that are likely to be a short drive away. How can George Nissen’s story help you rethink how to remain relevant in the trampoline park industry?
Ask anyone in the industry what you can do to stay relevant in the trampoline park industry, and they’ll likely tell you to add new features. It’s even more likely George Nissen would have agreed. New trampoline features and attractions, such as barriers, obstacle courses and more, updates your existing pads and allows guests to experience them in a new way. Keeping up to date with new ideas coming down the pipeline, via blogs, trade shows, and catalogs, is a good way to find new features to keep your park competitive.
When Nissen’s original design was under fire for perceived dangers, he invented a new sport to be played on his trampolines, and suddenly, the trampoline was interactive rather than something people watched others do. In the same way, look for unused areas of space in your building. Dependent on your budget, consider adding features like mini golf or laser tag for larger spaces, a toddler inflatable area for smaller spaces, or a launchpad and basketball hoop power dunk combo for a long, narrow space. If your park has these features already, consider any unused space and determine what might work best there. Alternatively, ask your guests; if there’s something they’ve loved at other parks and would like to see at yours, they’ll likely tell you.
Aside from the obvious, many design features of a trampoline park are conducive to innovation by adding to and taking away from existing attractions. A foam pit, for example, can be set up with any number of devices at its top for guests to propel themselves over the edge and into the foam. A little-used basketball court area can house a three-on-three tournament one evening, a dodgeball tournament the next, all while holding fitness classes and disparate needs classes in the mornings. Find existing attractions within your trampoline park that seem to be underperforming and find other ways in which they can be used.
Replace the old paper waivers and confusing color-coded wristband method of timekeeping with an Aluvii system that tracks guest documents, check-ins, jump time, and more. Systems can also allow users to scan an RFID wristband to pay for food or drink, provide ticketing for premium attractions, or integrate with arcades or other diversification solutions you may have.
Do guests really care if you have up-to-date technology? Absolutely, especially if it means they are able to track spending with a system that doesn’t require a jumper to carry cash. In addition, up-to-date technology can help reinforce the impression that the rest of the park is modern, safe, and secure.
George Nissen never quit inventing, whether that meant revamping his trampoline product to attract a new set of users, reworking his routines to attract a new audience, or reinventing with new technology to make his product safer and more reliable. The same approach can be applied to today’s trampoline park industry where staying dynamic is key to staying relevant.
Contact us for more information about how trampoline park management software and integrated technology can help your evolving trampoline park stay relevant.
An innovative entrepreneur, Robert leads by example. He encourages open dialogue, transparency and collaboration, inspiring us to disrupt and improve the amusement & leisure market by putting people first. When he’s not building companies he enjoys sports, boating, and time at home with his wife and kids.