Building Powerful FEC Membership Programs
There are many reasons why family entertainment centers (FECs) should develop membership programs, not the least of which is that they generate recurring additional revenue and provide financial security. But there are lots of things they need to consider, including the risks that programs can pose when they are not designed correctly. Representatives of two FECs, which take two different membership approaches, shared insights at an IAAPA Expo EDUSession.
Rev’d Up Fun, a single-site FEC in Michigan, offers four membership tiers—Ballocity, Standard, Luxury, and Platinum—that provide additional benefits as the price increases. Top-tier Platinum-level members, for example, have unlimited use of all attractions, including laser tag, zip line, ropes course, bumper cars, and XD Dark Ride, for $34.99 per month. For $8.99 per month, Ballocity members can only access the FEC’s interactive play structure. Since the chain of Altitude Trampoline Parks focuses on one activity, most of its locations have a single membership option that provides daily trampoline jumping, typically for $10 per month.
Not only do membership programs provide a steady, predictable revenue stream, but members spend additional money when they visit the facilities. Contrary to the belief that they are cheap, members purchase more food, beverages, and other items on average than non-members.
“They didn’t spend any money that day just to get inside the door, so they have more of their discretionary income to buy things in your park,” explains Robert Morris, Altitude’s vice president of development.
“The secondary spend that you get from members can’t be emphasized enough,” adds Zach Johnson, CEO of Rev’d Up Fun. “If you design your program properly, they will spend money—because you are providing value.”
Membership programs can help shield FECs from competition. That includes movie theaters and other potential diversions, as well as other FECs in the community. When a popular movie debuts, for example, members might see it but also visit the FEC for a couple of hours that day since they’ve already paid the monthly fee, notes Morris.
Using their social media channels, members are often cheerleaders and evangelists for FECs. They can provide organic, authentic, and free marketing. Johnson noted that members pay FECs for the privilege of advocating for them. On TripAdvisor, Yelp, and other review platforms, members “are telling people, ‘I’m paying for this. Why aren’t you?’” he adds.
Those who are reluctant to jump into the membership game are encouraged to try something out. “You’re probably not going to get it perfect,” Johnson says, adding that FECs can always learn from their mistakes and make changes.