FEC Track Kicks Off With Arcade and Redemption Sessions
by Mike Bederka
The arcade and redemption—two vital components in the family entertainment center (FEC) universe—launched the FEC track at IAAPA Expo.
“You want that gravitational pull into the game room,” said Steve Paris, vice president with the CTM Group, during the first session, “Arcade—Super or Right Size It?” “You want people running in and saying, ‘Oh, what’s this?’”
Machines with flashing, spinning lights and lots of action upfront will attract guests to play, but FECs need to make the best use of their space to keep them spending, he said, calling the game room a “canvas” for facilities to work with.
Owners and operators frequently ask the wrong questions when planning their arcades, said Catherine Algra, Betson’s finance director. They should replace, “I have 2,000 square feet. How many games can I fit? What’s my budget? And how much money am I going to make?” with the better approach of, “What’s the right-sized game room for my business? What’s the right number of games? What should my budget be? And what are some realistic expectations for revenue given my business model.”
“One size does not fit all,” Algra said.
In the second morning FEC session, “Redemption Strategies for Today’s World,” industry veteran Michael Getlan stressed the essential nature of redemption.
“It’s usually the last thing the guest does on a visit,” said the director of enthusiasm and opportunity for Amusement Consultants and New Roc Entertainment. “It will be the last impression of your facility.”
The speakers offered some of the following tips:
- Keep Up With Trends. To best stock the redemption shelves, check out popular YouTube videos (think plush sharks for the ubiquitous “Baby Shark” song); pay attention to the clothes kids wear to the FEC; and visit the local big box stores for inspiration, said Lisa Price, vice president of merchandise for Family Entertainment Group. “Look at the endcaps at Target right before Christmas. Those are your hot items.”
- Reinvent the Crane. A longtime game room staple, the crane can continue to be a solid revenue generator with some added wrinkles, said Jim Chapman, sales for the Elaut Group USA. Have guests drop a ball into a muffin tin and play for rings or cans of tickets, or let them trade in a standard plush for another item at the counter. He also recommended adding more play-until-you-win cranes. “They work,” Chapman said. “It’s all about perceived value.
- Empower Employees. Rusty Mabe, senior vice president of customer experience for FACE Amusement, gives out 1,000 tickets a month for an employee to use at his or her discretion. For example, if a young guest comes in just shy of a coveted redemption item, the staffer can make up the difference. “What is that—you’re giving out about $1.50?” he said. “The experience went from good to great.”