INDIANAPOLIS -- The International Laser Tag Association has created a new division aimed at serving the family entertainment center industry. The formation of the nonprofit National Association of Family Entertainment Centers was announced in mid-November during the IAAPA Attractions Expo in Orlando, FL. It is expected to grow into a standalone sister association of the laser tag group.
NAFEC presently counts 200 members, all of which are associated with ILTA, which counts 500 members. The organization is offering six months' free membership to anyone who joins in any of the three membership categories: developer, operator or supplier.
The laser tag association's board is providing leadership to NAFEC under the direction of ILTA president Davor Franicevich, who owns Laser Tag of Baton Rouge and Laser Tag of New Orleans.
"Once we get the ball rolling, NAFEC may have a life of its own with its own board of directors and separate membership," said Eric Gaizat, who serves as membership services director for both associations.
The growth of NAFEC's membership and its development of separate leadership are expected to accelerate during the first quarter of 2011, particularly as the association launches a dedicated insurance program for FEC owners and operators. NAFEC may use ILTA's insurance company or negotiate policies with a new carrier, Gaizat said.
Gaizat said it's "premature" for NAFEC to decide if it will produce a trade show, but disclosed that the trade show question is the most frequently asked which is directed to the nascent organization. NAFEC will offer ongoing educational programs, he said.
NAFEC also announced the formation of the Supplier Advisory Council, which includes U-Profit's Bill Carlson, Amusement Entertainment Management's Frank Seninsky, Prime Play's Nathan Jones and Agile Software and Marketing's Scott Drummond.
Carlson and Seninsky were both members of the International Association for the Leisure and Entertainment Industry, which folded into the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions. Both men were vocal critics of IALEI's merger with IAAPA, which took place in October 2009.
Sources said the Supplier Advisory Council is "very loosely" affiliated with NAFEC. However, any association of Carlson and Seninsky with the new FEC association -- no matter how informal or arms-length -- is bound to raise questions about whether the faction views itself as a rival to IAAPA for operator loyalty.
NAFEC's announcement of its birth provided a hint that such an interpretation may not be unwarranted. "Many [FEC] operators are concerned that their ability to be treated as equals with other high-profile members of [IAAPA] is nonexistent," the new organization claimed. "We know what it is like to be a member of a large association where you are spoken at instead of spoken to. Our objective is to make each member feel important to the industry as a whole by taking the time to work with them individually and use those experiences to assist other members in similar circumstances."
NAFEC said its mission is "to help our members become better informed through our research, services and communications with all levels of the industry ... to provide our members with up-to-date data on safety, operations, marketing, seminars, trade shows and ... to give [members] the knowledge and resources to grow their business and increase revenues."
NAFEC's launch announcement also said: "Our aim is to be the voice for the small business FECs and provide a forum for operators to share innovative ideas, learn from industry professionals and consultants, develop effective marketing strategies and address industry obstacles."
Parent association ILTA was formed in 1996. Just over half of ILTA's membership is based in the United States. National Association of Family Entertainment Centers is online at fecoperator.org and can be reached at (317) 786-9755.