The Relevance of Tokens and Tickets in a Cashless Society

September 6, 2011 No Comments

From credit and debit cards, to electronic gift cards, to payment by mobile phone, society is becoming increasingly cashless. Such a trend has extended to leisure entertainment facilities, with stored-value cards replacing tokens on the game operation side and redemption often handled with plastic cards instead of tickets. However, tokens and tickets alike continue to be relevant, and to play a role at, family entertainment centers and similar operations.

“The token business is still very strong, and we have seen an increase in it in the past year,” said Wayne Snihur, executive vice president and general manager of American Changer and Hoffman Mint.

Snihur attributed this trend in part to the benefits tokens and tickets offer to leisure entertainment facilities of all types. “With customizable tokens, operators enjoy significant promotional opportunities in that they can promote their brand to the community,” he stated. “And while card systems do provide operations with program flexibility and” simplify the accounting process “they can be expensive to implement.”

Gary Balaban, co-founder and co-owner of Coast to Coast Entertainment, LLC, corroborated Snihur’s comments, adding that tickets, unlike electronic cards used to tally points good at the prize counter, encourage patrons to spend more time playing redemption games. They also bolster business by sparking guests’ interest in games they may not have planned to play, but cannot resist once confronted with positive visual cues in the form of paper tickets.

“We operate three family entertainment centers in New Jersey, two in Keansburg and one in Seaside Heights,” Balaban noted. “What we have been noticing for a long time is that guests—particularly the younger ones—will compare themselves visually to other guests and if they have fewer tickets in their hands, ask which game or games the tickets came from so they can increase their own count, and then play themselves. There is also a lot of attraction in seeing tickets coming out of the machine. If they’re playing, they will play more and if they’re not playing, they want to. You just don’t get that with a card system.”

Moreover, sources pointed out that offering the option of operating games using tokens and redeeming merchandise with tickets may prevent leisure entertainment facilities from alienating technology-averse patrons. About a year ago, one California-based family entertainment center eschewed traditional tickets and tokens entirely in favor of a card system. However, the owner said he is considering reinstating both as a result of complaints from customers who are uncomfortable with the cards.

“I’m not sure I would do away with the card system completely, because we do have many patrons who seem to like it and don’t want to carry around tokens or tickets or save them for the next time they visit,” he said. “But we have had people tell us they think they’re losing money on the cards, or they just don’t like the idea of them.” Grandparents accompanying their grandchildren to the facility have been among the most vocal about the issue, the operator asserted.

The popularity of tickets and tokens among customers also cannot be discounted. At FunTime America in Cliffwood, N.J., this is the case because youngsters love to have something in their hand to show off, whether it is a handful of tokens or a handful of tickets, according to Luigi Falco, owner.

“Kids, especially younger kids, are competitive,” concurred David Broyles, president of Muncie Novelty. “So, family entertainment centers that cater to families with younger children risk a loss of revenue if they don’t offer tickets. A 50-year-old man playing games isn’t going to care if he is given a card with his points on it, but a 10-year-old girl will care very much if she doesn’t have tickets to show for it.”

Guests of family entertainment centers also continue to embrace tokens and tickets because of the value they add to the overall experience. At Coast to Coast’s three facilities, Balaban noted, feeding tickets into a “ticket-eating machine” is another activity for young children. “They love it,” he stated.

Broyles agreed. He said some of the favor curried by tickets stems from the fact that by virtue of their “large” presence, they remind patrons that they are “not just playing video games at home,” but rather are doing something “far more fun elsewhere.”  Based on his own experience, he added that while customers may reminisce about “the time Johnny won 500 tickets,” they will not “talk about the points on a card.”

Industry News

Coast to Coast Entertainment Offers Weekly Online Store Specials

For a limited time only, Coast to Coast Entertainment LLC will showcase a brand new web special every week in the company’s online store.  For example, in late August, the company featured an online-only order special for generic plush and Halloween plush. The company will always offer free shipping from its New Jersey warehouse with this promotion.

To see the weekly special, visit the online store at www.coastentertainment.com.

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International Association of Venue Managers Names Randy L. Brown, CFE, Chairman of the Board of Directors

Randy L. Brown, CFE, ascended to the position of Chairman of the Board of Directors for the International Association of Venue Managers (IAVM) during VenueConnect, the Annual Conference & Trade Show, in Phoenix, Ariz., in late July. 

“My desire for the next year is that the association is positioned for future success,” Brown said. “IAVM is an 86-year-old association that is the acknowledged leader in venue management. We have programs and content that are the envy of the industry.”

“This is a year of transition for us. We have a new CEO and President, Vicki Hawarden, CMP, and a brand new research program, VenueDataSource, which is generously funded by the IAVM Foundation. These changes will only enhance our legacy and propel us forward,” he said.

“Randy was essential to my decision to join IAVM as its CEO,” Hawarden said. “His vision and leadership are readily apparent, and he is dedicated to taking IAVM and the industry to new levels of excellence.”

Brown is the executive vice president and general manager of the Allen County War Memorial Coliseum in Fort Wayne, Ind. He began his career in 1978 at Indiana University in South Bend, Ind., where he ran the theatrical facilities. He moved to Notre Dame Saint Mary’s College where he served as auditorium manager. He’s been with the War Memorial Coliseum since 1988. 

Brown joined IAVM in 1983 and earned his Certified Facilities Executive (CFE) designation in 1995. Past service to the association includes Chair of Arenas Committee, Industry Affairs Council, Annual Conference Planning Committee, and Budget & Finance Committee. He also served as the District Vice President for District 2 in 1998-1999. He served as Director at Large for Arenas from 2006-2008.

Currently, he is on the Board of the Fort Wayne/Allen County Convention and Visitors Bureau, the Fort Wayne Sports Corporation, is a Past-President of the Fort Wayne Children’s Zoo, and is a Past-President of the Northeast Indiana Chapter of the Indiana University Alumni Association.

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