Filling Attraction Downtime for Facility Operations Success
Many attractions have spaces at their facility that are completely unused on certain days or at particular times. Sheryl Bindelglass, CEO and chief fun officer of Sheryl Golf, has mastered how attractions can turn these spaces into money makers. She shared a wealth of clever ideas during the 18 Ways to Fill Your Downtime EDUSession Thursday morning at IAAPA Expo 2023.
Many attractions have party rooms that may be booked up on weekends, but sit empty during the week. Bindelglass noted that homeschooled kids are the only young demographic likely to visit an attraction on weekdays. To leverage this demographic, she suggests attractions have homeschool program edutainment events in these unused rooms. Attractions can use homeschooling association websites to gather lists of key contacts.
“They sit empty 90% of the time! So have a craft fair, or holiday boutique, or turn it into a winter wonderland, or even hold a silent auction," says Bindelglass, referencing the much larger event spaces at attractions. "Really, the only ‘cost’ to you will be social media advertising.”
No event space at an attraction? Bindelglass says hold it outside, and ask participants to bring their own tents, which will attract attention from passersby. She strongly advises not charging admission, because she says attractions will make significant dollars from food and beverage sales. For unused open spaces like roller skating rinks, hold a dance workshop or science fair.
“You may not have party rooms or even spaces, but every attraction has a parking lot,” she jokes. For these spaces, she urges putting on a car show that will inevitably be popular. Plus, it’s a colorful and powerful lure for those passing by.
She maintains that another irresistible draw is food trucks. The food trucks will be the ones making money off the food sales, but the attraction will profit from guests enjoying the entertainment it has to offer, plus merchandise sales.
How about a concert? Bindelglass suggests charging zero admission and letting those guests spend that money on food, drinks, merchandise, and other offerings. Other such events proving to be successful are farmers’ markets, flea markets, and craft fairs.
She says don’t forget about seasonal ideas, like a Mother’s Day plant, flower sale, or setting up retail kiosks for the holidays. Another great use for parking lot space that is proven to draw people is a Christmas tree lot. The attraction doesn’t have to worry about setting anything up because they can recruit a local civic club or other organization to use the space and sell their trees. The attraction benefits from the family overflow as well.
Lastly, Bindelglass urges attractions to get creative and try something of their own inspiration, like a cooking, art, or a robotics class. Try big games of bingo or even hold a poker tournament.
Ever thought of a princess or superhero meet-and-greet, or partnering with the local Red Cross for a blood drive? She says if you don’t have any ideas, ask you staff—you’ll be amazed by the great ideas that come about.