Posted on October 10 2018
Every FEC operator needs to learn how to keep guests to their FEC stay longer, stay happy, and spend more money. It’s the eternal quest for operators - they just have to figure out a way to keep guests staying longer and spending more money. To survive in the long run, management must focus on increasing per capita spending at their facilities. FECs are more than one business. Not only do FECs have to ensure that kids play as many arcade games as they can, hit the pool or air hockey tables if they have any, FECs have to also ensure guests buy food for their kids at the restaurant, leave with a souvenir T-shirt or magnet, and shell out the few extra dollars to get the special ride/attraction package. How can this be achieved? There are several options to explore.
Rides and Attractions
The bulk of any FEC’s profits should come from, of course, the FEC’s rides and attractions. And most operators agree package deals and discounts are more profitable ways to generate business. Without naming names, a well-known FEC operator offers an assortment of packages. For instance, guests can get a two-attraction pass for $11 or a five-attraction pass for $27. (Attractions normally cost $6.75 each.) The FEC also has a five-hour pass for $37.50 per person, and a Saturday and Sunday special from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. for $21 per person…The Operator should try to create different packages depending on the type of group visiting. If FECs have a municipal group, which has a lower budget, they can create a small package for them, knowing the kids are bringing in some money per person. This assures the FEC of small earnings from every visitor in that group.
Packages & Loyalty Programs
If it’s a larger group, like a private camp, they tend to go for larger package with group discounts. It is best to remain adjustable to your prices. The best method to increase income is to make the customers happy to get them to come back. One big way to keep the repeat business up is with a membership card. Similar to a season pass, the discount card knocks a couple of dollars off the normal prices. Then another way to keep guests motivated is to offer them incentives like gift certificates. For every $100 guests spend in a three-month period, they should receive a $100 gift certificate. As for the cost-effectiveness of rides and attractions, that can vary from FEC to FEC. As a general rule, FEC operators should try to get their return on investment (ROI) within a year. They should for arcade games with linkable cabinets so as to maximize revenue from one game set-up. They should try to look for machines with a small footprint so that more machines can be accommodated in the same space – more variety translates to more revenue.
Merchandise Changes in the FEC store
FECs should try to improvise visible changes in their merchandise layout. Rather than having their merchandise look almost decorative (and distant) on the walls, they should give the FEC’s store a more retail feel. To help drive sales, products should be more eye-catching as well as accessible to the guests. Items can sit in easy-to reach baskets so kids can investigate up close the plush stuffed animals and make a more ‘involved choice’. FEC operators should link most of their merchandise in their FEC store to the FEC’s thematic concept to provide a sense of continuity so customers feel more reassured that they’re going to see something along the same lines. Some FEC operators also like to link the souvenirs with the attractions to boost sales. One FEC operator recently put more interactive water play on the bumper boats. Now he sells logo towels, coffee cups, and T-shirts that read, “I got soaked on XXX’s bumper boats.” They’re some of this Operator’s best sellers, and help to extend his venue’s brand reach. Some Operators prefer to push cheaper items such as mugs, refrigerator magnets, and pencils for a couple of reasons. Then Operators can avoid the difficulties of displaying T-shirts and the problems of theft control. Second, some Operators believe expensive merchandise diverts sales from elsewhere in the FEC. “If they go buy a T-shirt and spend a lot of money there, they don’t have that cash anymore to spend on the ‘real revenue earners’ like the arcade games or the F&B section.
Food and Drink
When a locally based FEC operator first started working as general manager at a well-known FEC in the region, the venue only had a tiny little snack bar which sold only chips, chocolates, colas and bottled mineral water. He fought to change that and added something more substantial. I mean, who doesn’t like fried food? This definitely was a No-brainer. He added fried foods to the menu – a firm kiddie-favorite and older children, teens and adults started to troop in by the dozen. Needless to say, it paid off well. This FEC Operator also diversified to offer customized menus for birthday parties, which gave his FEC an edge over the competition.
A Minimalist Approach to Food Service
Some FEC Operators prefer a minimalist approach to food service. Additional choices may not be worth the cost or effort, they say. Some Operators, for example, try to avoid frying food in their FEC. Fried food can be hard to prepare and harder to keep crispy for long, especially if you have a young, inexperienced FEC staff. It is therefore, better, to opt for child-proof, carb-heavy and stomach-filling options like burgers and pizza. FEC operators do not need a full menu, as an FEC’s main business is not becoming a dining joint for guests to eat. An F&B element is only a supplement to regular arcade/entertainment operations in an FEC so it’s only purpose is to keep guests content with occasional refreshments while they enjoy the fun experiences in the FEC. Pizza makes the most sense when feeding a large crowd as its both cost-effective and hunger satiating. On the beverage side, stocking vending machines with small bottles of mineral water is also a necessity. People literally get angry if any facility doesn’t offer clean, drinking water at reasonable prices.