The 2012 International Pool | Spa | Patio Expo showcased a variety of innovative new products from all segments of the industry. With that in mind, we scoured the aisles at the show, held Nov. 6-8 in New Orleans, to uncover some of the coolest new offerings and services. Here are our top picks.
Unique Roadshow: AquaProducts
When your company is just one of many players in a crowded marketplace, you have to go above and beyond to stand out. After 30 years of competing in the packed robotics category, AquaProducts realized it was time for a game-changing approach to marketing its Aquabot line.
The solution was a campaign called “Fewer Chemicals and a Healthier Clean,” a traveling exhibit that logged 30,000 miles in six weeks, crisscrossing the nation from Boston to southern California before ending at the New Orleans expo.
“We needed a way to reach our dealer network and deliver our new message in a way that we’ve never done before, so the decision was made that we should go to our dealers,” says Jeff Murray, art director of the marketing department at Cedar Grove, N.J.-based AquaProducts.
The roadshow included a large, branded truck with a walk-in showroom and office, as well as an attached trailer featuring a demo pool. AquaProducts officials brought the exhibit to 60 dealers, allowing them and their customers the opportunity to see the Aquabot product in a live setting.
“We’re able to show and explain the science in a fun atmosphere without getting too technical and possibly losing the customer,” Murray says.
In addition to the interactive elements, the campaign includes posters, sales literature, a point-of-purchase display, and other marketing materials to help dealers sell Aquabot. Every element of the campaign is designed to create an emotional connection between chemical reduction and pool enjoyment.
“The more [marketing] tools the better in this economy. We’re providing our dealers with as many as possible so they can be successful year after year,” Murray says. “We helped our loyal dealers bring in foot traffic as well as help build our brand, so it’s a win-win situation.”
Dealers that did not participate in the inaugural roadshow can still benefit from the campaign. An AquaProducts sales manager can provide the marketing materials and put your company on the list of potential stops for the next road trip, which will begin shortly after the 2013 Atlantic City Pool & Spa Show.
Form and function: Bullfrog Spas
In the sea of new and revamped spas on the showroom floor, one company’s tubs caught our attention.
Bullfrog Spas hired a design firm to completely overhaul its line, giving the spas a sleek new appearance and layout.
The designers maximized usable space by paying attention to details, down to the front of filter areas. New flush-mount square jets sit against the acrylic shell to keep the streamlined shape without indented recesses for jets. They increased comfort further by adding wrist, leg, and foot jets in premium seats.
Perhaps the bigger and more notable changes, however, occurred “under the hood,” says Jerry Pasley, CEO of Bullfrog Spas, based in the Salt Lake City metro area. The new JetPak Therapy System does away with conventional plumbing; the water-air mixture required to create jetted massages happens entirely within a single manifold on the back of the JetPak.
“This technology is a feat of design and engineering that cuts the plumbing on our spas down considerably and improves efficiency,” Pasley says.
The patented design makes exchanging massages as easy as push and lift, with most any JetPack working in almost any seat.
But one thing that remains the same in the redesigned spas is the metal- and wood-free injection-molded frame that prevents warping or corrosion.
The new JetPak Therapy spas debuted at the New Orleans show and have not yet been seen by the public. The 2013 line will be available at authorized Bullfrog Spas dealers beginning in February.
Going green: Natural Current
Keeping a pool sparkling can take its toll on the energy bill. That’s a problem Natural Current is hoping to eliminate with its Savior Solar Pump and Filter System, which was awarded Best New Product by Hanley Wood Exhibitions in New Orleans.
The Savior is a 100 percent solar-powered pump and filtration system which pays for itself within its first year in operation, according to company officials.
“The monetary pain is real every time a pool owner gets his utility bill and has to write a check because he is still using the old conventional pool pump and filter system,” says Michael Evingham, CEO of Natural Current in Dana Point, Calif. “We solve that pain quickly.”
The Savior floats in the body of water to be filtered, which creates zero head pressure on the pump motor when pulling water through the filters. The system can pump and filter the water at 10 to 20 microns and move all of the pool water by a strong return flow from the solar pump, according to Evingham.
Portable and submersible, the Savior has attachment options of ozone, ionizer, salt cell, UV, aerator, light and GPRS smartphone control, and social network information connection kit. It can also double as a portable generator for power failures.
“But sometimes the most important difference that consumers love about the Savior is that it is noise-free,” Evingham says. “All of a sudden they can hear the birds chirping again in their backyards.”
Chemistry lesson: SeaKlear
When SeaKlear went looking for the next big thing in the pool and spa industry, the company found it in an unlikely place — the laundry room. Taking a cue from technology popular in the detergents industry, the company created self-dissolving pouches designed to treat a pool or hot tub in just minutes.
“We saw how dissolving pouches had completely taken the hassle out of laundry care and dishwasher dosing,” says Martin Coles, CEO of Seattle-based HaloSource, parent company of SeaKlear. “The groundwork has already been done for us by the detergent industry and we know from our own experience that consumers will pay for convenience and ease.”
The new Mighty Pods line initially includes two products — one for weekly cleaning and another for “emergency” treatment of cloudy water. Additional products will be introduced for both pools and spas in early 2013.
The technology is designed to take the guesswork out of pool and spa treatment for do-it-yourself homeowners. Each pod treats up to 15,000 gallons of water with no measuring required.
“Just spend a few minutes with a typical consumer and find out how knowledgeable they are about water chemistry,” Coles says. “Check whether they read the labels on pool and spa products or follow dosing instructions. No one knows they need phosphate remover, clarifier, metal ion remover, algaecide or pH balancers, but they do know they want their water to be clean and clear every day.”
Mighty Pods are not designed to replace a dealer’s current chemical business, Coles says. Instead, the small-footprint product is designed to sell alongside existing products in retail environments to provide “a one-stop solution for all the chemistry that is not done today.” Service companies can also integrate Mighty Pods into weekly maintenance programs for their customers.