Avoid Bad Habits With Operational Reviews

Annual Inspections are a familiar routine for zip tours, aerial adventure parks, and other challenge course facilities. But what about Operational Reviews? While annual course inspections are often required by state and local laws, the same is not true of operational reviews, but that doesn’t mean they are any less important.

So what exactly is an Operational Review? An Operational Review is a third-party assessment of a facility’s staff and its practices, in compliance with standard B.2.7. of the 8th Edition of the Association for Challenge Course Technology standards which states “The organization shall engage in a review of its practices by an external qualified person(s), at least once every five (5) years .” Review practices vary by company, but this is generally done in a “mystery shopper” type scenario, conducted without the knowledge of the staff in order to get the most accurate picture of a facility’s routines and standard operations. During this time,  documents and record-keeping practices including the written Local Operating Procedures, Emergency Action Plan, Incident Documentation, Pre-Use Inspection Forms will be assessed.  Afterward, the assessors will sit down with your team to discuss our findings and make specific and practical suggestions for how to improve.

There are several reasons this is done.

1) To make sure the facility is in compliance with current ACCT standards, as well as state and local laws. This one is pretty self-explanatory – make sure you’re in full compliance before an issue arises. Don’t let bad practices become habits.

2) To help you provide the best possible guest experience. Lax practices lead to unsatisfied guests. Make their safety and enjoyment your top priorities by streamlining and improving your systems.

3) To provide a fresh perspective on your facility’s operations. It’s easy to get in a rut. Having a fresh set of eyes look over your facility may help you notice problems you’ve gotten used to or overlooked.

4) To provide ideas for structural enhancement. Operational Reviews not only provide great insight into how to improve your practices, they can also provide valuable insight into how to improve your course. If you’re looking to add on to your existing course, or need product recommendations, this is the perfect time to ask an expert who’s there on the ground with you, seeing your facility in action.

Operational reviews are recommended during the first operational year, and every five years after opening. They are also recommended in the event of an incident – it’s always good to examine what went wrong and how you can do better next time. While Operational Reviews don’t directly audit for compliance with standards related to Staff Competencies, Training, Certification, Design, Performance, or Inspection, they can observe potential issues in compliance with those standards, providing a larger picture of potential improvements facilities may need to make. The Operational Review is meant to be a limited snap shot of an Aerial Adventure course’s operational aptitude and does not imply past or continued compliance.

Who can perform Operational Reviews? We recommend working with an ACCT-accredited Professional Vendor Member (PVM). PVMs have completed an extensive review process with the Association for Challenge Course Technology and has been found to be experienced and competent. If possible, seek out a full-service provider PVM. Full-service providers not only perform inspections, but can also provide staff training, or construction and maintenance services. The more well-rounded your PVM, the more insightful and thorough your operational review will be. We recommend thoroughly researching your PVM to make sure they provide all required services and have a strong history of client satisfaction and range of experience.

In the hands of the right PVM, Operational Reviews can be essential tools for improving your course, your facility standards, and your risk management protocols. By bringing in third party assessors, you’ll get the most out of our facility, making sure it’s running smoothly and in compliance with the latest ACCT standards.