The notice arrives in your in-basket. The annual convention, or quarterly board meeting, or corporate retreat, presence mandatory. You can picture it already - walled in with no windows for days on end, PowerPoint overload, your family calling each evening to complain about you never being at home. While the water parks in Wisconsin Dells were built with the vacationer in mind, they've evolved to take on an even nobler cause - rescuing business travelers from the blahs and turning those same frequent meeting goers into heroes with their kids.
The success of the water park craze in Wisconsin Dells created a new opportunity for local business owners - the chance to become a destination for meetings and conventions. Brilliant really, given how time-stretched so many Americans are these days, struggling to find a balance between work and family life, never taking all their allotted vacation days. So businesses, especially the water park resorts, strategically expanded, with conference and convention space, world-class spas, championship golf courses, luxury condominiums and larger-than-most suites, and great restaurants.
So who is the typical target for this water-park-turned-meeting-place strategy? Meet Mark Paget. He's a lifelong resident of Milwaukee, Wisconsin and current executive director of the Wisconsin Dental Association, which represents 3,000 dentists throughout the state. Mark has planned meetings in Wisconsin Dells, as well as having signed up for meetings held in the community that were planned by others. Whenever possible, his wife and three kids, ages 15, 13 and 11, tag along, happy for some quality time with Mark and some quality time in the water parks.
"It's definitely an advantage for me and members of my associations, especially those with young families, to combine business with pleasure," explained Mark. "I've attended meetings at the Kalahari and Chula Vista and have a meeting coming up in June at the Wilderness." So what does Mark's family do while he's tied up in meetings? "The boys love to golf, and all three can't get enough of the water parks. My wife likes the water parks too. She likes to relax poolside with a good book.