Is there a role play trade association?

There is safety in numbers. From the early days as cave dwellers, through to modern life as families, humans have always craved the company of others. It’s the same in business, and many owners will tell you that sometimes it can feel a little lonely at the top! We started consultancy to give new owners a business friend they could turn to, who knew the industry, shared the journey to business opening, and knew the person that stood behind the brand; we could be there for both the good times and the challenging ones. 2020 has definitely been that challenge, and if ever the role play industry needed to have a strong voice to fight it’s corner then 2020 was the year.

A new Association is born. In recent times, indoor play venues have only had the choice of joining the British Association of Leisure Parks Piers and Attractions (BALPPA). In theory the power and strength (and finance) of an organisation that represents the biggest leisure venues in the UK, should be one that gives small family-run venues the ultimate in support. But recently, it seems the sheer diversity of the different industries represented by BALPPA posed challenges. As a result, members of the Family Entertainment Centre committee of BALPPA decided it would be better to separate from BALPPA and form a new Association dedicated to Indoor Play venues, The Association of Indoor Play (AIP),

Why join the trade association? We recently had the pleasure of joining the AIP committee as they explained the goals of the Association, Having listened to them talk, and more importantly met the committee for the first time, we genuinely believe the new Association of Indoor Play will work to give indoor play companies in all their forms a strong voice, give customers a better experience and increase the value (and thus profit) in the indoor play industry. More importantly, it’s the first and only time we have felt that indoor role play venues are a welcomed and valued part of an Association and will be fairly represented. If you haven’t looked at the Indoor Play Association facebook page, please do. For the Association to be able to help, support and advise in both the short and long term there are inevitably cost overheads and membership is around £150-200 a year (monthly payment possible at time of writing). Why pay this you should ask????? We are very confident running Tots Town and helping others run their venues with our consultancy services; we don’t need Health & Safety templates or general advice etc (things the Association hope to provide), but having a Trade Association gives us a louder voice when engaging the govt on policy that affects us all, and it also could allow us to get group discounts on insurance, products etc.

Strength in Numbers In July, we (Tots Town’s consultancy brand TheRolePlayCompany) were successful in getting hold of the right people in govt to discuss reopening indoor play, but it’s only because we could get a Members Association to join the discussion that we had the power to get things pushed through. Just recently, we joined several of the Association’s committee members for a meeting with the Dept for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, to discuss the impact on our industry of the Coronavirus guidelines and legislation, which lead to discussion about govt support. It’s evident that the AIP are passionate and determined to get the best results for indoor play owners and their customers. So….for the first time since opening in 2016, we will be joining in with a Trade Association, and we suggest all Role Play owners consider doing so too. At the time of writing this, indoor plays are limited to how many people that visit at any time, and no more than 6 can gather for a party. If having the Association of Indoor Play helping fight our corner leads to increased capacity, or gives an avenue for hosting parties with more than 6 people, we will make back the membership fee several times over. Tots Town, and our consultancy brand TheRolePlayCompany, will of course champion dedicated role play centres in every conversation it holds with AIP.

You can read more of our blogs at https://tots-town.co.uk/diary/   and discover more about how we work with brilliant people to open and grow their own role play venues here.