What are your customers looking for in a family entertainment center? Fun, of course! But how do they experience that fun, and what makes for a good customer experience at a family entertainment center? Family entertainment centers fall under a wide array of businesses from bowling alleys to escape rooms. Some focus on just a single activity and others offer a broad range. There’s no one-size-fits-all solution, but there are a set of principles for maximizing the experience so customers will keep coming back to your establishment.
1. Identify why people find your activities fun
Family entertainment center advertising copy often promotes the concept of fun, but fun is a result of participating in the activity. Your role as a family entertainment center operator is to facilitate experiences that result in fun, which means knowing the mindset of people who come and play at your attractions.
Let’s take mini-golf for instance. Some players love mini-golf for the challenge. Others love it for the whimsy. Still others do it just to pass the time. Providing an experience that caters to ALL of these is challenging but necessary if you want to maximize your audience.
People come to your family entertainment center for arcade and ticket games, each having different reasons. Or perhaps they’re not there for the games at all, but for the facility space. Do they like your birthday room or corporate party room? Why?
You could also have a special attraction, something novel like a skydiving simulator, a BEAM system, or an escape room. Is it the novelty that’s drawing people, or something else?
If you don’t know what your customers are seeking when they come through your door, you’ll never be able to cater to those needs.
2. Recognize what minimizes the fun
At any visit to a place where a customer expects fun, there are going to be things that ruin the experience. Disney has done massive amounts of research and has an extensive infrastructure to reduce these ruinous traps so people enjoy their parks. While you don’t need to build tunnels under your family entertainment center, you still need to prevent these customer annoyances from happening. Let’s take an arcade as an example.
Nothing will ruin a player’s fun faster than if they put in tokens into a machine and they don’t get a play out of it. It’s even worse if the play starts and the controls don’t work properly. There are many dancing arcade games sitting in arcades with faulty pads. This can lead to a very bad customer experience.
Yes, you should refund the tokens if this happens, but why wasn’t the machine tested, marked out of order, and a tech notified in the first place? People know that machines need maintenance. While they might be disappointed to see an out of order sign, at least they know you are keeping track of things. Even better, if you can put on a date of expected repair, they could come back another time to enjoy the activity. All games should be tested at least weekly.
I’m sure you can think of many other ways things could go wrong or have gone wrong. There may be a group that’s holding up the putt putt course. An engine might break down in a go-kart. Even something as simple as a spilled drink can reduce a customer’s perception of the fun they can have in your establishment. Identify these things and eliminate the causes as much as you can. And for heaven’s sake, keep your family entertainment center clean!
3. Maximize fun while keeping fairness, safety, and a profit margin
Once the dangers are out of the way, you can work on increasing the fun factor of your attractions. Fun can be increased easily by making a game cheaper, but deals aren’t always the best way to bring people into the door. Making variations on existing games at a higher price is a better way. Bowling alleys are masters at this. Inflating bumpers into the gutters so balls will always hit the pins created a whole new game for those intimidated or frustrated by traditional bowling. Some even paint their bumpers with florescent paint and use a black light to create a cosmic bowling experience.
If you have a lot of teenagers, college students, or type-A executives, it can be tempting to cater to demands for more intense experiences or to bend the rules a little so they can play games their own way. Usually, this is a mistake. Having a day where people can play on your putt putt course any way they like is a sure way to destroy landscaping. In a game like whirlyball, it could even lead to injury. And that’s not fun for anyone.
Every game, prize, and activity in your family entertainment center should pull its own weight. If there’s an attraction that just isn’t getting many plays, it’s time to pull it and replace it with something more current.
The rules for your games should also be fair and clear to all players, especially in competitive activities. You don’t want to hear arguments breaking out in your play areas because someone broke a rule that wasn’t clear in your games!
4. Ask your customers
Finally, you should always ask your customers if they are having fun and how the experience could be better. Family entertainment centers are ultimately a service industry. Our experience may tell us quite a lot about why people come in, but asking them directly is even better. This can help you keep on top of trends and changing customer tastes. A simple question at the end of the experience is a good way to start. You could also offer a customer satisfaction survey and give free tokens, plays or food for filling it out. Customer insight is a golden key that will lead to what you can do to ensure your success.
If you follow these four rules, you’ll be well on your way to creating a family entertainment center experience that’s unforgettable for your customers. Happy customers lead to higher profits. Always find ways to maximize the fun and you can’t go wrong.
BEAM is an award-winning interactive projector game system that brings lively, toy-free, lively, active and breathless fun to your family entertainment center! Bring this virtual playground to your family entertainment center for a low-maintenance, high-enjoyment activity. We offer both floor and tabletop games. Contact BEAM today to speak with a representative and find out how our system can enhance your customer experience.