One of the best things about events like the Amusement Expo is the conversations that take place when you bring the community together to share and exchange ideas to move the industry forward. We had a chance to catch up with Laser Tag veteran Ryan McQuillen to get his thoughts on the current affairs affecting owners and operators in a time of volatility and uncertainty.
Here are some of the most significant takeaways from our conversation:
Takeaway #1 Focus on Training and Development so You Can Pass Down Knowledge and Expertise to the Next Generation.
Many of us started in the industry and stayed in the industry by working at an entertainment center. Some of us were fortunate enough to have worked with great owners and managers who taught us valuable lessons about the industry.
You don’t have bad trainees; you have bad trainers. In many cases, you have someone wearing too many hats, so the focus on onboarding is missing. That’s why so many high-performing centers outsource their training programs.
Otherwise, you give the impression to your staff that you don’t have time or think it’s essential, which reflects poorly on your brand, which will negatively affect the guest experience. As Simon Sinek wisely said, “Customers will never love a company until its employees love it first.”
Investment in training and professional development is both a burden and a privilege because it’s not easy to teach teenagers skills. Still, you have the potential to make an impact on the lives of young adults.
Furthermore, by teaching your staff the crucial job skills, you not only set them up for success in their careers, but you may even empower the future thought leaders in the industry.
Takeaway #2 Laser Tag Should Tell a Story
As fans of laser tag from a very young age, we’ve see the game evolve over the years. What makes laser tag so awesome is the storytelling. The magic is in the story you tell with your briefing, arena theme, and system to create a more immersive experience.
In the early days, the ability to tell the stories were limited to the on-site experience. These days, you have the technology capable of reaching more people through online channels and bringing people through the doors.
With so many centers offering laser tag, you add more value and set yourself apart with the experience you deliver. The next boom in laser tag sales and birthdays could come in your ability to convey the essence of laser tag through storytelling in your communication strategy.
Takeaway #3 Customer Behavior Has Changed, and You Need to Adapt
Today’s customers want instant gratification in their laser tag gameplay. It’s up to the manufacturers to design products that show whom you tagged and who tagged you on phaser LCD screens.
Customers are also looking for bundling of experiences instead of only coming for laser tag. This trend explains why laser tag is successful at FECs and why customers are looking for more options for attractions at any entertainment center.
Another significant shift in customer behavior is the use of social platforms like Facebook, which has over 2.5 billion monthly active users. Owners and operators simply can’t ignore where prospective customers go to get entertainment, news, and to follow brands.
Takeaway #4 You Need an Organic Posting Strategy to Cut Through the Noise
The declining organic reach for Facebook and other social media platforms is a reflection of 1) the tremendous amount of content being created every day, and 2) the platform’s desire to provide the best user experience with the most relevant content.
Your organic posting strategy has to cut through the noise and target a specific segment of your audience. Think of the time of day, week, and month of the year for busy moms like the back-to-school season.
As you and your staff create social posts, be sure to think about a specific audience and what they’re thinking, feeling, and doing. As a result, the engagement will follow.
Takeaway #5 Link Your Social Media Activities to Revenue
As with any marketing activity, you want to show a link to revenue. Many owners don’t “Do social media” because it’s hard to quantify the return on investment from the time and effort spent.
You can attribute social media to revenue by tracking goals in Google analytics with parties booked from your social channels. However, it’s not 100% accurate because someone may have heard about you through word-of-mouth before they engaged with you on Facebook.
The way to get the full story is to ask the customer, which ties back to training properly to capture the information over the phone. You should also have a system in place to capture customer data online (e.g., web forms or live chat).
Takeaway #5 Focus on What You Have Control Over In Case Panic Sets In From Any Pandemic
With news of the shortages of masks, bottled water, and toilet paper in the US, location-based entertainment centers have to prepare for the panic spreading with the Coronavirus.
Although there is very little you can do about public perception; you have to focus on what you can control. Similar to the flu season, you have to train your staff to follow established protocols and practice hygiene in the facility.
Once you’ve done that, you can give your customers assurance through your communications. Other business practices, such as allowing them to reschedule for a later date is an option.
Let’s Continue the Conversation
Whether you’re a 20-year industry veteran or a newbie with knowledge and experience in other industries, we all benefit when we come together to exchange ideas. At the upcoming Amusement Expo and other events throughout the year, we hope you transfer and share ideas to help move the industry forward.
As for our conversations with Ryan McQuillen, we’re looking forward to continuing the discussion soon. If you’d like to connect with him, follow Rokosz Media Studios on Facebook and send a Message. Stay tuned for some big news on their latest venture.