Adding the Extras for a Winning Formula

No one wants to mess up a winning formula, but implementing the right change can be good.   It’s something powerhouse consumer products companies have known for years.  They have even distilled it down into three magic words that they use over and over in their advertising.  That is, “new and improved.”

Although your offering is very different in nature, you are still selling a product, which if new and improved, can be a key to effective marketing.  It’s one of the best ways to ensure solid sales. After all, like other businesses, today’s attractions and parks face a tough economy and an increasing array of seemingly endless entertainment options that potential clients can chose. These include interactive video and sports games served up over the Internet and more. So, no matter if you are tweaking or revamping your menu or adding more adrenalin-producing speed and increasing the challenge to make skillful strokes on the course, go-kart and miniature golf operations need to continually find ways to attract customers and keep them coming back.  Here’s how some experts are doing it.

“We are thinking about adding something, but we are not sure what yet,” said Rachael Rohrer, a manager at the Family Recreation Center in Boonsboro, Md.  The center features slick and figure 8 go-kart tracks, mini-golf, a driving range, batting cages and Water Wars.  She noted, “We want something that adds to our operation and helps generate sales, but does not cost a lot to maintain.  We have one kiddie ride now that requires a lot of maintenance that we would like to replace.”

Others are trying to maximize core strengths.  At Planet Maze, which has mini-golf, an arcade, laser tag and a maze featuring tubes, tunnels, slides and rope climbs, in Ocean City, Md., General Manager Nicole Robinson said, “We have beverages and a small snack bar, but since we are at the beach and the weather during our season is generally hot, we push ice cream.”  She added that from Monday through Friday they host about 300 people a day, depending on the weather. “Weekends are actually slower because people tend to focus more on the beach,” she said.

“We have upgraded our menu and plan to do it again in the future,” said Meggan Howes, the food and beverage manager at Top Golf in Alexandria, Va.  “Since we have only golf, we tend to focus on our core business.”  But she indicated that doesn’t mean you can’t find ways to make your menu more interesting.  Whatever you do, she advised to make sure to factor in client demographics.

At the Clubhouse Fun Center in Rochester, N.Y., with its go-karts, mini-golf, arcade and unique treehouse café, Shift Manager Nick Carrozzi said, “We have tinkered with our menu, including some re-pricing and we are continually updating our game room to remain current.”
Of course, when considering new and improved, it’s important to consider what is practical.  “We have everything from miniature golf and batting cages to trampolines, a balloon water game, and a laser tag arena, but we are land locked at this point, which limits us,” said Margaret White, the owner of Papio Fun Park in Papillion, Neb. She added, “I wish we could add parking.  We are just stirring the marketing pot, working through the economy, and tweaking what we have to make it better.”

Even with careful consideration, deciding what might be a boost to your attraction is not an exact science. “We just sold a merry-go-round,” said owner David Marose, at the Putt ‘N Stuff in Osage Beach, Mo.  “We have two, 18-hole miniature golf courses, laser tag and rally karts.”  He added, “We thought the merry-go-round would be a great addition to the park, but there just wasn’t that much interest in it and it didn’t pay for itself.”

Undaunted, though, Marose still sought to find ways to enhance the appeal of his attraction to families with children. “We have bought a kiddie train and are in the process of setting it up right now.  And, we have built two small buildings for birthday parties. We have a big layout, but are somewhat of a small operation in terms of attendance because we really only have a couple of months in the summer.  We host about 26,000 a year.”

So, when it comes to your attraction and its operation, never underestimate anything you can do to make it “new and improved,” because in the face of more entertainment options, you have to take both small and big steps to enhance your appeal to customers.  Letting things become stale should not be an option.

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