Offering an Integrated Experience: How Planning and Thoughtful Facility Design Create Repeat Visitors

January 4, 2012 No Comments

Whether you are considering adding an additional attraction to your facility or are designing a facility with multiple attractions from scratch, how you integrate your attractions together is very important. Attractions that looked patched together detract from the appeal of your facility and can cost you money. Worse is if your customer base doesn’t see the value of said attraction or do not have the time available to try it out.
Create the right setting out of the gate. Never let your guest leave the mindset that they are at play in a fantasy realm. Hit them with “Wow” at the door and never let up so that their entire experience from the moment they enter until the moment they leave encourages them to relax and have a great time. If you immerse them in the experience, you are creating an excitement that people will want again and again.
Careful planning must be a part of the process for integrating attractions. Especially in an FEC environment, placement and décor can make or break your business. Age-appropriate attractions should be grouped together and whatever theme you have chosen should be apparent in the details. Also, make sure that you consider your audience carefully when placing and decorating your attractions. Younger customers always want to do what the older customers are doing, but the opposite is not true.

Careful planning must be a part of the process for integrating attractions. Especially in an FEC environment, placement and décor can make or break your business.

Laser tag is usually a themed attraction. To clarify: this does not mean you must place murals on all the walls or even that you use blacklight (Photon is an excellent example). It is always important to have some visuals to help draw your customers into the experience, but it is a bit jarring to suddenly walk into a themed environment or to see one painted wall in the lobby where the entrance is. While you will get “Wows” from people who enter, you lose that feeling when they leave the attraction.
The solution is to carry that theme into your arcade and lobby and then into your other attractions. In a laser tag facility with a space theme, carry some elements onto the walls above the games.  Metal panels, some twinkly lights, or some murals with a nebula or two will go a long way. Choose lighting with a tech look and make any signs you have fold into that same motif. It is relatively inexpensive to add these touches in your lobby.
This same idea is important with your other attractions. Ancillary attractions such as bounces or ball pits should be in front of walls with a light space theme, have some interesting lighting effects, and the attraction’s name should reflect said theme as well. It is also important that as you design or add attractions you do not let one attraction block line of sight of another.
Décor aside, also examine how your new attraction will impact the line speed of your current attractions. In the case of laser tag, you need to ensure that your other attractions can be completed or played several times between game calls. Laser mazes, arcade games, etc. are great additions or ancillary attractions because they can be completed with a 15-minute time frame. And, of course, they encourage additional spending for waiting guests.
When planning a new facility, make sure you plan well ahead for where guests will line up and congregate. Also, understand the synergy between attractions and plan accordingly. For example, the entrance to your laser tag should be in or around your arcade so that guests have to see the games as they head for it, but there should be enough space around it to allow for a group to congregate in front of it without blocking other guests from getting through or accessing a game. Plan ahead so that you create this kind of synergy between multiple attractions.

When planning a new facility, make sure you plan well ahead for where guests will line up and congregate.

Also, know your audience. Do you have inflatables? These bounces should be placed where they can be found, but not blocking other attractions. Surround them with kiddie games and some redemption for your guests. It is important to note that if you mix attractions that draw different age groups you will often only succeed at pleasing the youngest crowd. In the long run this turns adults and teenagers away, creating a ghost town where a thriving facility should stand.
Attractions such as mini-golf might need additional time.  Consider letting guests know that they should play an attraction that will take longer than 15 or 20 minutes after laser tag, or that they should schedule their laser tag game a little later to give themselves enough time. Guests are willing to abandon a 50 cent video game, not a $5 game of golf.
New attractions will likely keep guests in your facility longer, are you prepared to host your guests longer? Part of a seamless experience also includes having staff and procedures in place to ensure guest satisfaction. If you add a major attraction, have extra staff available to aid your guests as they adjust to the new experience. Some attractions will take some hand holding to be adjusted to, so be prepared.
The above paragraph goes double for a new facility. Over staff your facility initially to let your guests acclimate and your staff reinforce each other. Slowly cut your staff back to appropriate levels so that you do not overwhelm them as your guests relax in the new environment. You will also learn what questions or problems to expect and can make adjustments accordingly. Speak to customers about how long they plan to stay, what attractions they tend to utilize, etc. Again, make adjustments for an optimal outcome.
In summary, your facility is so much more than the sum of its parts. Tying all of your attractions together is important enough to warrant extra attention when it comes to theming. Take the extra time to really examine this angle and your customers will reward you handsomely for it in the long run. -

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