Thursday, December 9, 2021

Resuming activity in COVID times: Support and reports from Bacta, IAAPA and UFI

Land of Legends – photo by Martin Palicki

by Judith Rubin, InPark editor

The attractions industry is inherently solution-oriented and innovative, and these core traits naturally assert themselves even more strongly in challenging times. As theme parks, museums and the supplier community look for safe ways to restart business and resume gatherings in the real world, trade organizations dedicated to supporting them and their interests are producing targeted studies and reports.

We look at three such reports, from Bacta (representing the amusement and gaming machine industry in the UK, including FECs), IAAPA (International Association of Amusement Parks & Attractions) and UFI (global association supporting the exhibition industry and B2B meetings).

Re-opening guidance from IAAPA

Advocating for the amusement park/theme park sector for more than 100 years, IAAPA is a leading organizer of trade shows with annual expos in Asia, Europe and the US. The US show, held in November in Orlando, where the association has its world headquarters, logged attendance of more than 42,000 and close to 1,200 exhibitors in 2019. IAAPA has more than 6,000 member companies.

On May 1, IAAPA released the first edition of “COVID-19 REOPENING GUIDANCE: Considerations for the Global Attractions Industry.” The 36-page report addresses a wide range of operational details including admissions and payment procedures, communications and signage, food and beverage, retail, guest responsibility, restroom maintenance and ride management, with links to additional resources. The list of contributors includes health organizations, theme park operators and industry specialists.

IAAPA’s report makes a point of contrasting parks and attractions with other mass gathering locations such as sports arenas, movie theaters, and concert venues, citing the ability to reduce capacity and to control guest seating, limited exposure time as guests move through an experience, and families that attend and can stay together in close-knit groups.

Exhibition framework from UFI

Released on May 5, 2020, UFI’s “Global framework for reopening exhibitions and B2B trade events post the emergence from COVID-19” is a nine-page document with contributions from contractors, associations, organizers and venues around the globe in the business of real-world trade gatherings.

UFI, an international organization headquartered in Paris, reminds us of the face-to-face networking we have been doing without, and its value: “Exhibitions are the marketplaces and meeting places for entire industries – regionally, nationally, and internationally. …exhibitions also contribute to regional development and generate revenue for the travel and tourism sector.”

The UFI report presents an outline for reconfiguring exhibitions in COVID times, stating that the basics for doing so are already present: “…the format of an exhibition allows the organizing stakeholders to structure and steer the audience on all steps of their journey – from their registration, to their arrival on site and entry, to the way they navigate show floors, meetings spaces, and auditoriums, as well as the catering and sanitary options available to them.”

Bacta’s back-ta-work plan

Returning the FUN to Britain’s High Streets and Seaside Towns – A plan to get the amusement machine sector back to work,” was released on May 5, 2020 by Bacta, which identifies itself as “the trade association for the amusement and gaming machine industry in the UK.”

Bacta, a UK-based organization, wants to help the stricken business in its sector stay afloat. On the operations side, that includes such venues as family entertainment centers (FECs), adult gaming centers, bowling alleys, pubs, bingo clubs, members’ clubs, and motorway service areas. On the supply chain side are providers of amusement, arcade and gaming equipment such as redemption machines, jukeboxes and kiddie rides.

The six-page report is part of a lobbying effort for government relief, with specific suggestions as to how, when, where and why it should be applied. The appeal is paired with guidelines for reconfiguration and safe operations, to help businesses revive their roles in entertaining the public and stimulating their local economies.

Judith Rubin
Judith Rubin ([email protected]) is a leading journalist, publicist, strategist, blogger, content marketing specialist and connector in the international attractions industry. She excels at writing about all aspects of design and technical design, production and project management. Areas of special interest include AV integration and show control, lighting design and acoustics, specialty cinema, digital video and world’s fairs. Judith has ties to numerous industry organizations. From 2005-2020 she ran communications, publications and social media for the Themed Entertainment Association (TEA). In 2013, she was honored with the TEA Service Award. She was development director of IMERSA, and co-chair of the 2014 IMERSA Summit. She was publicist for the Large Format Cinema Association in the 1990s, now part of the Giant Screen Cinema Association (GSCA) and has also contributed to the publications of PLASA, IAAPA and the International Planetarium Society. Already making her mark as a magazine and book editor, Judith joined World’s Fair magazine in 1987, which introduced her to the attractions industry. Launching as a freelancer in the mid 1990s she has contributed to dozens of publications and media outlets including Funworld, Lighting&Sound America, Sound & Communications, Urban Land, The Raconteur and The Planetarian. She joined InPark in 2010. Judith earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts from Pratt Institute. She has lived in New York City and the San Francisco Bay Area, and now makes her home in Saint Louis, where she is active in the local arts and theater community.

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