New Jersey Arcades In-Depth:
The Game Room and The Game Room South

Located in two separate New Jersey beach towns are the fun-packed, game-filled arcades, The Game Room, in Keansburg and The Game Room South, in Seaside Heights. Both of these amusement centers feature the best in arcade games, such as Skeeball, poker machines, slots and crane machines.
“Both locations are operated in the same way,” said Owner Gary Balaban. “We run them as if they are a franchise. This makes it easier to buy the products and other items needed for day-to-day operations.” The two locations both cater to the players who are only in town temporarily, for a couple days of vacation. “We have many prizes that are easy to win. That is necessary if you have a guest who is not going to be in town long. It is even possible for the larger prizes to be won in a short amount of time, when tickets are saved,” Balaban said.
In order to draw in guests to the two locations, there is a great deal of signage on the boardwalks and also inside the arcades. These signs aid in promoting specials, as well as the VIP players club. The VIP players club is a promotion in and of itself. With this loyalty program, each customer that signs up gets a plastic membership card and a key chain card.
“The cards are similar to credit cards and we did this thinking that it would have a higher perceived value to the player than if we used a paper card,” said Balaban. “Our VIP customers are entitled to special bonuses, such as extra points when they get rolled coins from the change center and discounts on merchandise.” Balaban finds that customers are proud to show the card when they are playing. “It makes them feel like they are a part of a select group, which sets us apart from the competition,” remarked Balaban.
Co-owner, John Maurer said that social media is being used extensively to reach out to potential and current guests to encourage more visits and to spread the word about current promotions. “We are using Facebook a lot right now. The Seaside Heights page was started in April and we are very happy with the progression of it so far,” said Maurer. “We hired a social media mentor to help us with this and it has been successful for us to this point. We are aware that it does, of course, take some time to increase your number of “likes” on Facebook, but we have made great strides.” Promotions are offered that are strictly for Facebook fans, such as the opportunity to play three games of Skeeball free of charge, or the chance to earn 500 points when signing up a friend for the VIP program.
“I have also been posting pictures of all of our winners up on the Facebook pages,” said Maurer. “If someone wins a large stuffed animal or other big prize, their picture goes right up and this spurs conversation amongst the fans, in turn, creating more interest.” Maurer has also been cross-promoting with the Seaside Heights Business Improvement District, through Facebook.
Email campaigns are another method that Maurer has been employing as a successful medium for promotions. “We have an extensive VIP database. Whenever anyone signs up for our VIP program, we get their email address and home address. We mostly rely on email campaigns at this point, so we can get promotional materials to our customers immediately,” Maurer said. “Our email campaigns may consist of sending customers some coupons and, in addition, we will direct them to our Facebook page, so we can grow fans that way, as well.”
Quick Response Codes (QRC) can now be found on many of the machines at both Game Room locations. This are a type of matrix bar code, that, when scanned by smart phones, will automatically bring users to the Facebook page. “The QRCs are just one more way to bring people to the page and to try to grow the social media aspect of our company,” Maurer said.
In these current economic conditions, the arcade industry, like any business, must take a look around at its customers and ensure that expectations are being met on both the business side, as well as from the customer’s perspective.
Maurer said that The Game Room’s locations have adapted to the economy by offering more of everything. “We have more prizes at a lower value, so our customers are able to bring home more prizes than ever before,” Maurer stated. Additionally, on their end, dollars are being saved by doing more online promotions, rather than the postcards that were sent out not long ago. This savings, in turn, allows more money to be spent on prizes for the guests.
Balaban’s view is that families are really looking for a decent return on the dollars that they are spending in the arcade. “If they are spending anywhere from $20 to $30, then they really want to know that they are going to be walking out with some prizes of reasonable value. It is our goal to make sure that everyone who comes in to play at our locations will be sure to leave with something. This way everyone is happy,” Balaban said.
The Game Room and The Game Room South are all about having fun and keeping customers happy. That usually consists of going the extra mile for their guests. “Very often, if a child from a family wins a prize from one of our cranes, we will give their brother or sister a prize, too,” said Balaban. By making a gesture like that, everyone comes out with a smile, the parents and the kids. “We do that same thing at the redemption counter, as well. We do not want any child to leave the arcade crying, if it something that we are able to take care of ourselves.”
In this economic climate, businesses must do all they can to keep customers satisfied. While everyone is concerned with the bottom line, customer service should not be underestimated. A little extra kindness and consideration truly goes a long way and keeps guests coming back for more. –

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