The High Tech Elements that Go Into Running a Roller Skating Rink

Years ago roller skating centers offered an organ, disco ball and maybe a few snacks for customers to enjoy. Stroll into one of today’s modern skating centers and your senses might overload. Music, lights and real food offer an atmosphere of pure entertainment. So what are all these high-tech gadgets and what is the benefit?
Top entertainment features include lights, music and video. Roller skating centers combine these elements to give the look and feel of a nightclub. Some RSA member rinks use digital music utilizing Virtual DJ and Napster.
Sandra Levin, Orbit Skate Center, told us, “Virtual DJ also runs our video screen that is suspended over the floor. Our lighting show is always changing and we add to, move around and refresh a couple times a year.”
Levin also uses TV monitors in the lobby to convey useful information to make the admission process smooth and quick. The monitor runs a PowerPoint show informing patrons where to get skates, how to check in for a birthday party, to have money out and ready and to know how many skate rentals they need, for example. Orbit also has a 10-foot-by-10-foot transparent screen suspended over the skate floor that runs ads, names of party guests and music videos, and this can be seen from both sides of the floor.
Scott Drummond of Party Center Software, shared “We have customers who are seeing 20, 30, 40 and even 50 percent increases in party revenue from using an online booking tool that both books and up sells the customer. This also has shown to reduce labor by $10k, 20k, 30k-plus a year and the cost to do online booking is so small that even a 1 percent increase in revenue would pay for the service or a slight decrease in labor would pay for the service.  The labor reduction will give you more time to promote and reach out to companies, schools and camps to come in and use the rink.”
Facebook is a key social networking site that many members have taken advantage of and set up a Fan page for their skating center. Orbit has an interactive fan page. Using a Wibiya bar on the bottom of their Web site pages, guests can “like” right from the website and are then taken to a landing page on Facebook that shows them a slide show if they “like” the page. Orbit uses Facebook ads and deals to enhance the page and raise the count of those that “like” Orbit. The fan page is updated many times a week and users are encouraged to post and participate. Postings to the fan page are automatically sent to Twitter and show up on their other online resources as well.
As Levin has alluded; RSA members are combining website technology with social networking for a seamless virtual marketing effort. Websites must be set up to give as much information as possible; from the address and hours of operation to showcasing high revenue services.
Levin said “The most popular pages on the website include the schedule, Google interactive map, parties and the historical rink part of the site that has information on Chicago rinks that are no longer operating but have many memories tied to the pages. Guests can read about parties, reserve their party and make a deposit using PayPal. Registration for classes is also a popular feature, and students can pay for their classes online as well. Testimonials by customers are shown on a side bar, and we provide interactive catalogs of our distributors in the pro shop area. The schedule is a Google calendar that users can easily copy to their smart phones or calendars.”
Drummond said “In reality your lighting, music videos, POS, online booking, website, Facebook and in-facility marketing/signage should all be integrated and work together.  They should be intentionally coordinated and feed off one another.  In theory this is just one giant circle and once you get introduced to one part of the circle the customer should slide all the way around until they end up purchasing a party or coming in to skate.” –
(Susan Melenchuk is the Executive Director of the Roller Skating Association International.)

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