Are Trade Associations worth investing in?
Tracey Bancroft – FEC Coordinator BALPPA (British Association Of Leisure Parks, Piers And Attractions)
As BALPPA approaches its 80th Year of Fun, celebrating its on going commitment to the Leisure Industry, it’s worth reflecting on the role of trade associations in general and BALPPA in particular. BALPPA represents the interests of more than 300commercial leisure parks, piers, zoos and visitor attractions. There are, however, many attractions, farm parks, FECs, play and adventure play centres throughout the UK, that have not invested in joining a trade association.
So what is a trade association? What is BALPPA? In simplistic terms, BALPPA provides businesses and individuals with a common interest, representation and collective products and services in return for a membership fee. Members will have access to conferences, training and educational programmes, technical advice and networking opportunities. Most important of all, BALPPA’s main focus is as a representative body, putting forward the collective view of its members to Government, to regulatory bodies, and to the media. What I hear most frequently from colleagues who don’t belong to trade associations is that membership can be pricey. As far as BALPPA is concerned, when you consider the benefits and if you take full advantage of your membership, I think you’ll find it can be a great investment for your business. I would say, however, that as with most things, you get out what you put in, so those who engage and take part in the BALPPA organised events and activities will derive the maximum benefit from their membership.
What are the benefits of BALPPA membership? There are numerous benefits to be derived from BALPPA membership but I’d like to focus on the key five.
Networking: This might seem obvious but BALPPA offers YOU the chance to connect with others in the industry. The breadth and experience of the BALPPA membership is second to none and there are frequent opportunities to engage with players both large and small. Learning from industry peers can save both money and time, and might also lead to lucrative friendships and partnerships within the industry. In my experience, most successful entrepreneurs aren’t afraid to network with both peers and competitors.
Education: BALPPA offers a variety of educational opportunities, including webinars and both national and international conferences. Topics include, best practice, industry trends and health and safety, whilst ‘lessons learned’ provide the opportunity for entrepreneurs and their teams to adopt cost-saving ideas, as well as hints and tips for business growth. One Operator member has actually told me that in their experience these events have paid for themselves!
Advocacy: Perhaps this is one of the most overlooked benefits. BALPPA is dedicated to protecting and advancing the needs of the leisure industry; as the fortunes of the industry rise, so will those of its members. At BALPPA we’re lucky in having a dedicated team to lobby and advocate on behalf of all of us; something which would be prohibitively expensive for most individual members. Currently our lobbying team is continuing its focus on the drive to reduce the impact of VAT for leisure and tourism.
Benchmarking and Standards: BALPPA membership supports the ability for an organisation of any size to benchmark itself and others within the industry. Members adhere to a code of best practice in addition to adhering to legislative demands. The Association provides immediate updates on changes to technical standards and policy, along with advice on how to deal with issues which may be encountered as a result of changes affecting the industry. BALPPA is very proud of its continuing focus on driving forward health and safety within the attractions sector.
Savings: Through the pooling of resources and purchasing power, BALPPA has negotiated some excellent commercial deals for the benefit of its members. Examples include a cash-back deal from Booker Cash & Carry and additional savings through Regency Purchasing Group. Some members of BALPPA’s Trade Associate Members sub-group also offer preferential rates and special offers to members. Any organisation or individual joining BALPPA willbenefit from an enhanced reputation by being part of a membership body that is recognised by Government and from within the leisure industry as a badge of quality and a commitment to best practice and high standards.Benjamin Franklin once said that an investment in knowledge always pays the best interest and I’d certainly agree. I would strongly urge any new or existing leisure entrepreneur to consider BALPPA membership as an investment in themselves and their business.
Tracey Bancroft may be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org