The Importance of Carpet and Turf at Leisure Entertainment Facilities

For most if not all leisure entertainment facilities, the question of whether or not to install carpet and turf is a “no-brainer.” However, what many owners and managers do not think about is how the right product can truly enhance the guest experience.

Indoor carpet certainly cushions guests’ steps, thereby making it more comfortable to walk or stand as well as minimizing “slip-and-fall” incidents and decreasing the potential for injury should visitors take a tumble. But one lesser-known advantage is the fact that it absorbs sound, so that the noise level in even the busiest, liveliest of leisure entertainment facilities becomes easier to bear, said Kristin Messick, a member of the sales team at Omega Patternworks.

“Carpet also insulates against cold, and when the floors are warmer, so is the entire facility,” Messick observed.

Moreover, having carpet, rather than another type of flooring, underfoot in a leisure entertainment facility may render it easier for guests to play skill games, use the batting cages, and participate in similar activities, asserted Vicki Winkler, general manager, Flagship Industries. The vendor’s commercial-grade carpet comprises 28-ounce cut pile. “With that density, there is no movement underfoot, which makes it easier” to maintain balance and such, Winkler stated.

Both Messick and Winkler also pointed out that brightly colored, patterned carpet lends a better aesthetic to leisure entertainment facilities. “The more elements like this, the more vibrant and energetic the environment and the more it can be enjoyed,” Winkler stated.

Outdoor carpet, too, makes standing for long periods less stressful for guests and cushions any impact from accidents. As for turf, points out a spokesperson for Adventure Golf Services, properly installed turf that is level can make it easier for mini-golfers to hit the ball. At the same time, the addition of rough turf provides an additional challenge in play for those who desire it.

Of course, the more diligent leisure facilities are when it comes to caring for carpet and turf, the longer it will remain looking new and fresh and the greater its potential to have a positive impact on the guest experience. At Valencia Lanes in Newhall, Calif., employees sweep the carpet at least once a day and use a broom and dustpan to remove any obvious debris (for example, discarded food) as soon as they notice it, reported Yvette Boyer, manager. Spills are mopped up with a cloth right away, and any stains are spot-cleaned when they occur using a commercial solution recommended by the manufacturer.

“We don’t use anything on our carpet that the manufacturer doesn’t suggest, because it might cause damage and a replacement would cost more than the right solution,” Boyer stated. “And we’ve found that sweeping and spot-cleaning really keep the carpet fresher and prevent permanent damage from ground-in food, dirt, etc.,” Boyer stated.

The carpet is also vacuumed nightly at closing time. Every six weeks, a third-party firm performs a deep cleaning using hot-water extraction equipment that “does a great job with the ground-in dirt and hard-to-remove stains,” Boyer noted. The procedure, which begins at around 7 a.m., requires approximately five hours from pre-treatment to finish and delays Valencia Lanes’ opening time by two hours, to noon. However, Boyer deemed it worth the effort, adding that as another measure of protection for the carpet, guests are asked not to stand in carpeted areas while eating and to avoid chewing gum, which can be extremely difficult to extricate from the fibers, anywhere in the facility.

Tim Crawford, owner and designer of seven jumpstreet indoor trampoline park and family fun center facilities in Chandler and Glendale, Ariz.; Thornton, Littlewood, and Greenwood Village, Colo.; and Cedar Park and Plano, Texas; agreed with Boyer that the benefits of  deep carpet cleaning—namely, enhanced aesthetics and a longer life—outweigh the inconvenience. He has discovered that it is best to deep-clean carpets installed in his centers’ highest-traffic areas—namely, the entrances—approximately every 10 days. Carpet in other areas of the facilities is deep-cleaned at one-and-a-half to two-month intervals. To get the job done, employees use a steam-cleaning machine with rotating brushes that measure about one foot long and five inches wide.

“The machine sort of ‘floats’ along the floor and is very easy to operate,” Crawford said. As is the case at Valencia Lanes, all carpet in jumpstreet facilities gets a daily vacuuming and is spot-cleaned immediately, as needed.

Vacuuming carpet every day, spot-cleaning with manufacturer-recommended solutions and hot water extraction cleaning once every three months should render even carpet that is several years old looking new, Winkler asserted, adding that beater brushes should never be used on carpet like that offered by Flagship because their abrasive action could distort the graphics on the product. Meanwhile, Messick claimed that installing an attached cushion beneath carpet—an option for which Omega charges $3.50 extra per square yard in addition to the cost of the carpet itself—leads to an extended product lifecycle. “When there is cushioning, spills stay at the top of the carpet rather than seeping down into the substrate,” she explained. “We estimate that carpet lasts about 50 percent longer that way.”

As for turf and outdoor, daily debris removal is also an absolute must. “We go out around every morning and, depending on how much dirt or other debris like leaves that we see, blow it off with a blower or vacuum it up with a vacuum cleaner,” said David Dupree, manager of Collegeville Pit Stop in Collegeville, Pa. “The same with the carpet on the rough and bunkers.”

Whenever new turf is installed, Collegeville Pit Stop ensures that it a strong vendor-recommended adhesive is used to adhere it to the surface below. “This keeps the turf from popping up, which not only looks bad and could be dangerous for guests; it makes it easier to damage ” and subject to faster wear, Dupree stated.

Jane Farrell, of Jane Farrell Turf and Carpet, said Collegeville Pit Stop has the right idea. She recommended the use of a standard vacuum cleaner to remove loose debris from fairways and a vacuum cleaner without a beater bar for rough and bunker carpet, plus daily sweeping or hosing of heavier debris.

Embedded soil should be removed with a carpet rake or soft bristle brush, then rinsed thoroughly with water from a garden hose. For mold and mildew, Farrell suggested spraying a solution of three parts bleach and one part water on the affected areas, soaking for 15 minutes, and rinsing thoroughly with water until all residue (white film) disappears. Annual or bi-annual cleaning of the course via hot-water extraction and without detergent is also a good idea, Farrell said, as is leaving carpet uncovered during the off season because covering allows water to condensate underneath, causing overall mold and mildew. Finally, a “crushed” appearance—an inherent characteristic of olefin products that cannot be prevented—can be minimized by regularly sweeping against the carpet grain.

Industry News

EAAPA 2011 Hosts International Education Conference During Expo

Frank Seninsky of Amusement Entertainment Management Joined Yaroslav Sobko of GameTrade to Present Three-Day Training Seminar

Eurasian Amusement Parks and Attractions Expo (EAAPA) sponsored by the Associations and Partners of Leisure Industry Alliance, federation of Russian Associations “Smile-Expo,” exceeded expectations in its second year. More than 100 exhibitors from 16 countries occupied 48,000 square feet at Moscow’s International “Crocus” Exhibition Center early this year, and over 3,500 industry professionals from Russia, the CIS and other foreign countries visited the show.

President/CEO of Amusement Entertainment Management Frank Seninsky, joined GameTrade’s Executive Director/CEO, Yaroslav Sobko, to present the three-day Academy of Effective Amusement Centers, one of two business training programs held within the conference. This session focused on everything from Choosing the Location and Analysis of Infrastructure to Merchandising/Redemption and Selection of Equipment and drew 39 attendees from all over Russia and up to 9,000 miles away. “This group is really into learning about redemption and facility layout. They took notes on every aspect of the presentations. Yaroslav acted as my translator fro the duration of the program. I feel honored that I was able to make many of the attendees laugh, feel comfortable and improve their current game/FEC operations. Some of our presentations went on for four hours at a time without a break.”

The Eurasian Parks and Attractions Expo (EAAPA) is supported by the Union of Associations and Partners of the Amusement Industry (SAPIR), the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions (IAAPA), the World Waterpark Association (WWA) and the Ukrainian Waterpark Association.

Are Tokens the Ticket to Successful Corn Maze Operations?

When you are in an industry with a short season, it is imperative that everything runs smoothly.  Corn mazes certainly fit into the “condensed season” category and often are busiest on the weekends – when more than half of their business is transacted.  So these seasonal venues are increasingly turning to tokens rather than cash as a means to simplify their operations, and improve cash control while presenting a more professional image.  As they have found, there are more than mere token benefits from making the switch.

Tokens are typically sold only at the main entrance where customers pay for admittance – so cash control is heightened.  Naturally this location is staffed by an owner or trusted employees – thus eliminating accounting errors and employee theft.  The tokens are then used to pay for corn cannons, barrel trains, jumping pillows and other stations around the venue.  Employees accept the tokens and then turn them in at the end of the day.

Visitors to the Calgary Corn Maze pay for admission to the 10-acre corn maze or the smaller 3-acre version along with admission to the petting zoo as they enter the facility.  Here they also have the opportunity to purchase tokens for use at other stations.

Mark Muchka of Calgary Corn Maze added “the whole purpose of tokens is to take cash out of your staffs’ hands. At the end of the day we can track it and know how many people visited each station.”

In addition to reducing accounting errors and eliminating the potential for employee theft, knowledge of how the stations are performing allow Muchka to make better decisions on the locations and types of stations to include. The tokens, which he purchased online from Cincinnati’s, also present a more professional image than the tickets that the Calgary Corn Maze has used in previous seasons.

“The tickets fall out of people’s pockets, they get lost, folded, bent,” said Muchka. And if they should travel home with the customer, there was nothing on the generic tickets of any marketing value – nothing to remind customers of their visit to the maze. His tokens, on the other hand, are minted with their name and logo which increases their “souvenir value.”   They are likely to evoke memories of their time in the maze, or on the jumping pillows, or sluicing for gems, or maybe being jostled on the tractor-pulled wagon ride.  Whatever takeaway memory the token brings to mind when it is viewed with their pocket change is well worth the small cost of the token itself.

“We put our name and logo on the tokens – and we get a lot of comments on them,” he said.  It is doubtful that anyone is likely to comment on a paper ticket, at least not from a marketing and memorability standpoint. Given the durability of tokens, they can be used season after season – so these marketing benefits will be experienced time and again from a single investment.

Another marketing point that Muchka appreciates is that since tokens are sold along with admission, customers are only dipping into their wallet once.

“If you are forcing customers to open their wallet multiple times during a visit, they can start to feel nickel-and-dimed,” Muchka said.

Recall that since owners or trusted employees are manning the admissions area, they can suggestively sell tokens as well.  While he has not yet used the tokens in mailings or outbound promotions, that is another marketing option that is available.

After just a single season, Muchka and his crew at the Calgary Corn Maze are sold on the benefits of token-based operations. The professional atmosphere, increased cash control, elimination of accounting errors and employee theft, improved marketing and increased souvenir value are clearly more than token benefits.

Industry News

Gold Medal Expands in Response to Growing Sales

More and more people around the world are discovering the gold in Gold Medal® products, creating an increased demand for the concession equipment and the corresponding supplies. Greater sales and worldwide growth drove the need to expand Gold Medal’s supply production. In response, the company has expanded its flavor department and renovated some of its facilities. The addition contains 10 more flavor bays, a large capacity elevator and space for future flavor bays.

The projects were completed in June and mark the third time the company has expanded since opening its current facility in 1997. With this addition, the Medallion Drive location will be more than 438,000 square feet.

Also, in recognition of new product development and the company’s manufacturing innovations, Gold Medal recently received a Manny Award from Cincy Magazine. J.C. Evans, chairman, accepted the award along with other senior staff members at a summer event. Gold Medal was nominated by a community partner and an independent panel representing various business sectors conducted the judging.

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