WEST SPRINGFIELD, Mass. — The Outdoor Amusement Business Association (OABA) announced today the relaunch of the popular Circle of Excellence (COE) program. The COE program has allowed members 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 that are important to our customers. The program has been on a two-year hiatus due to the pandemic.
“Members who earn this three-year COE designation have the opportunity to demonstrate through an independent onsite visit by an OABA consultant that they are operating in accordance with OABA standards,” said Greg Chiecko, OABA president & CEO. “The process and designation are the result of an onsite visit by OABA consultants with many years of industry experience and through the use of a comprehensive checklist for key issues.
“We believe as it becomes better known this program will be part of the selection process for some venues and will give operators a real advantage when it comes to competing for business opportunities in the future,” said Chiecko.
The checklist covers issues such as operations including training, food and ride safety, staff sleeping accommodations, drug testing, labor, professional appearance of employees and crisis management planning.
“Customer service and safety have always been our top priority and the hallmark of Eastern States Exposition – The Big E. The OABA’s Circle of Excellence program demonstrates our midway provider shares these values,” said Gene Cassidy, president and CEO of Eastern States Exposition. “We take pride in doing business with like-minded partners and we will require the designation in all future contracts.”
Operators must meet the following prerequisites prior to the audit: Comply with OABA’s 2021 Portable Workforce Housing Policy, perform pre-employment drug testing for 100% of employees and perform annual national background checks on all employees.
“This new program provides OABA standards that help improve our entire industry,” said industry veteran and Chair of the OABA Andy Deggeller, president of Deggeller Attractions. “That is something we can all be proud to support.”
“Fairs are competing for the leisure time and money of guests with a huge variety of choices today. In order to continue to thrive, fairs must focus on excellence in every point of contact with the guests, including – and very importantly – in mobile amusement operations. Operators with the Circle of Excellence designation, having completed the rigorous vetting processes, exemplify the standards necessary for today’s operation of state and county fairs. Incorporating that COE designation as part of the fair’s selecting and contracting of carnival operators should be a priority,” said President & CEO International Association of Fairs & Expositions (IAFE), Marla Calico.
“As an insurance company that specializes in this industry, a COE designation will make a difference in our underwriting,” said Drew Tewksbury, director of Sales & Marketing for McGowan Allied Specialty Insurance. “Any operator that meets the OABA requirements for designation poses less of a risk for loss and gives us more confidence in providing coverage at a reduced rate.”
“After 40 years of representing the industry, I believe that operators willing to commit to this process will have tangible evidence to show auditors, regulators, and the courts that they have optimized guest experiences, risk mitigation, and operational compliance,” said R. Wayne Pierce from Pierce Adventure Law. “Because we respect this strategic choice, we have long discounted our legal fees for Circle of Excellence members, and we look forward to validating this improved program.”
“OABA members can begin scheduling audits immediately,” said Chiecko. “The designation lasts for three years.”