My Two Cents on Revenue School (and clichés)

By Paul Gilbert | Posted on January 6, 2014

Written by Paul Gilbert, Executive Director, Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority and Instructor and Board Member for NRPA’s Revenue Development and Management School

For 2014 I am going to:

  • Think outside the box
  • Do more with less
  • Provide “value added”
  • Create win-win situations
  • Push the envelope
  • Embrace social media
  • Take it to the next level
  • Shift the paradigm
  • Create bang for the buck
  • (fill in the blank)

Wow, we have a lot of clichés in our professional lives. But they are all really different ways of saying that we are going to think about things in a fresh manner and seek to increase the performance of what we are doing. So aside from all the worn out phrases, how do we do this within the field of parks and recreation?


Paul Gilbert will bet you "dollars to doughnuts" you'll learn
 valuable lessons at Revenue School.


There are many good things that professionals in our field can do to stay fresh and improve performance. We can read a business book and think about what two or three key ideas to implement in our agencies. We could attend NRPA Congress or our state association convention and engage in continuing education. The truth is the list of possible things we can do to stay fresh is limitless. However, one of the very best options has been available to professionals in our field for many decades: The Revenue Development and Management School (Revenue School) at Oglebay.

The Revenue School offers a program where park and recreation professionals from all over the country (and an increasing number of international participants) spend one week a year over two years learning about marketing, trends, strategic planning, pricing, innovation and more. It is like a mini-MBA program tailored for our field. At the end of the second year, teams put together a complete business plan for a new facility and pitch it to a mock city council.

Within my agency, more than 80 percent of our park managers, and many of our other staff, have participated in this program to hone their professional skills. And the results have been wonderful.

One misconception is that it is all about revenue. While “Revenue School” is the shorthand name, it is just as relevant for a facility that does not rely on cost recovery as it is for those that do. It is all about performance. That is the “Management School” portion of it. Regardless of your cost recovery, we all want to be the best we can be. We want to serve the public, and be seen as cutting edge leaders in our field. That is what the Revenue School experience is all about. And by the way, you will get some great ideas that can increase your cost recovery (if you like that kind of thing).

Abraham Lincoln once said “the best way to predict your future is to create it.” If you want to create a better professional future for yourself and your agency, register for this year’s NRPA Revenue Development and Management School, which takes place in March. 


Editor's Note: What is your professional development plan for 2014? Will we see you at Revenue School? Share your goals and ideas with us on Twitter @NRPA_News.