There are trade organizations for almost every aspect of the outdoor entertainment business. From the Outdoor Amusement Business Association (OABA) to the World Waterpark Association (WWPA), these organizations exist to help keep the entire industry safe. They provide certifications, training, networking opportunities, and more.
However, membership requires a fee. The certifications these organizations provide are paid for and may be required in certain states across the U.S. Do the costs of joining an amusement park association outweigh the benefits?
Safety through communication
The first benefit of membership is access to a vast network of peers. Joining an amusement park association provides access to training, attendance at trade shows, potential benefits like life insurance policies, and valuable communication with your fellow professionals.
In the outdoor entertainment businesses, there isn’t the usual guarding of knowledge found in other industries. Competitors help each other with what they need. If something is broken and another business has a replacement part, they will let their competitor use it—as long as the loaned parts or vehicles are returned or replaced. As a result, the industry naturally creates a sense of camaraderie between peers, which has led to the establishment of the many amusement park associations that exist today.
Beyond networking, this collaborative spirit also extends to industry-specific training and certification. The International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions (IAAPA) features a slew of online training articles and videos for members. OABA offers VOLT, a cloud-based training platform developed by the OABA in partnership with McGowan Allied Specialty Insurance. The platform houses more than forty training videos, with many courses counting towards NAARSO and Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requirements.
A few of the organizations also provide certifications that can be paid for by non-members. Certifications from the National Association of Amusement Ride Safety Officials (NAARSO) and the Amusement Industry Manufacturers and Suppliers (AIMS) may even be required in certain states to be able to assemble or inspect an amusement ride.
Increasing your reputation through an amusement park association
Receiving a certification from an amusement park association like NAARSO or AIMS is especially beneficial for new businesses looking to enter the outdoor entertainment industry. These certifications give credibility, which can be difficult for the new kid on the block.
For instance, a traveling carnival aiming to get a contract at the Lubbock Fair in Texas would be able to approach the fair board with a credential like the OABA Circle of Excellence Award (COE). This award allows recipients to stand out from the competition by offering the results of an onsite visit that confirms an operator’s adherence to a checklist of issues. The fair sees this award when doing its due diligence and is likelier to pick the traveling carnival, as it has a positive reputation. The award has directly affected the traveling carnival’s business prospects.
Where to start?
There has never been a better time to seek out the help and services of amusement park associations. Historically, timing, training space, and expenses have been limiting factors in allowing all to engage in the training and other services provided by organizations like OABA. Thanks to the internet, online learning and training courses are now possible virtually instead of requiring face-to-face interactions. They can be completed anytime without requiring a dedicated space and are often less expensive than in-person trainings.
McGowan Allied Specialty Insurance has decades of experience supporting its customers in amusement and entertainment. Contact our experienced program underwriters to discuss these resources and our customizable insurance products.