Roll on Over!
Roller Skating Association Focuses on S.T.E.M. and Fun at Convention
By Beth Standlee, CEO, TrainerTainment
The Roller Skating Association International’s convention, held May 3-4 in Las Vegas, was great fun this year. With a focused theme of “Connect, Create, Accelerate,” the planners and attendees alike networked, caught up with old friends, made new friends, and concentrated on making their businesses better.
The Las Vegas Rio Hotel and Casino played host to the event. I spoke with Convention Chairman Christopher Griffith, who said they jumped out and tried lots of new things this year. Of those new events, they featured Junior Roller Derby, “rolling lunches” where attendees dined and mingled with suppliers on the 10,000-sq.-ft. skate floor right in the trade show exhibit hall, and an Inaugural Skate Gala reception the night before exhibits opened.
If you don’t know about The Junior Roller Derby Association (JRDA), it’s worth noting that through its efforts to grow roller derby, it also works to nurture self-confidence in youth by developing teamwork and athletic ability, all while treasuring individuality, encouraging service to others and more. The trade show floor played host to a live, ticketed junior roller derby event. Very cool!
I was personally involved in education and noted the RSA seems to be tackling the opportunities and issues that face the industry today in its many sessions.
There was a great emphasis on the S.T.E.M. (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) program developed by United Skates of America. The company’s Jim Dvorak couldn’t contain his enthusiasm for what this program is doing for young people as it combines education and skating. To inform others, United Skates President Karen Palermo, Regional Sales Manager Lauren Fink and Mandy Jacobsen, S.T.E.M. Educator at the company’s Tampa, Fla., location hosted a full session to educate attendees about how they can use this program at their centers.
Karen Palermo shared how this tranformational educational daytime field trip program impacts facility’s profits as well as having a significant and positive effect on the skating center’s image in the community.
United Skates of America has executed their S.T.E.M. field trip program at 18 of their own locations and reports that the results have been incredible, boasting that it was an overnight success in every single market. Karen shared that the program not only drives daytime revenue, but introduces the sport to children who have never been skating, giving every center the opportunity to create new skaters.
A full S.T.E.M. lesson was presented by Mandy Jacobsen in which attendees learned how the concepts relate to roller skating and how the program can impact a student’s life in the future. I found the program to be both educational and entertaining.
My session was titled “If Mama Ain’t Happy,” and focused on birthday parties. It was a fast 45 minutes, and truthfully I planned too much information for such a short amount of time. The feedback was good and the class was well attended, though I was “competing” against a session called “It’s 5 O’clock Somewhere” presented by the great gals from Sparkles. (It’s hard compete with alcohol! I only had fas-lite candles and party socks provided by my friend Abid Sheikh from Expert Hosiery.)
I have to admit, I love these people. Conventions are for fun and the folks in the roller skating industry have been specializing in fun for many, many years. I always get the sense that those that attend are re-energized. There’s something special about getting together with like-minded folks. It’s easy to notice old friends who have all those same funny stories that they share year after year. It’s also exciting to see the enthusiasm of new people who are just getting into the business.
Listen, the real truth is I’m addicted to Cupid Shuffle and I’m pretty sure that every rink in the land must play this great line dance during every skate session. So when I’m thinking of my RSA friends that I know don’t mind if I “roll on over”, I’m sure that they’ll turn the music up loud and allow me to hug the wall as I skate dance my way through their center.
I’m looking forward to next time I see my skating friends; and if you are looking for a great new attraction, I’m sure any of the vendors on the show floor would happily sell you a skating floor!
Beth is the CEO of TrainerTainment LLC, a training company devoted to the family entertainment and hospitality industries. Beth and her team are focused on helping the companies they serve make more money through sales, guest service, leadership and social media marketing training. Training products and services are delivered in person, through books and DVDs, and virtually with e-learning courses, webinar development and 24/7 online access. Visit her company’s website at www.trainertainment.com.