Arcades and family entertainment centers are a great way to have some fun indoors. Birthday parties, family nights, date nights, whatever the occasion – there is a bit of nostalgia when it comes to playing games, winning tickets and earning prizes. But are tickets a thing of the past? And how do these centers manage payment and prizes?
“When you go to the card system, most kids and/or parents are not aware of how many points they have or how much money is left on the card,” said Don Ernst, the owner of Crown Point Family Fun Center in Crown Point, Ind.
His center sits on over 8 acres and includes 36 holes of mini- golf, batting cages, soccer cages, and go karts outside, along with a 33,600-square-foot indoor training facility dome with indoor cages and field rental.
Ernst said he will probably always use the system in place. “The coin-op industry needs to keep the tokens and/or quarters flowing to survive,” he said.
Crown Point Family Fun Center has used the Ticket Master machine for redemption for the last seven years. “Probably the most important tip I can give is make sure you have something for every ticket used,” Ernst explained. “We do not let you add money to adjust the pricing of the prizes.”
Candace Ciminnisi, the general manager of Junction Lanes, also uses an older token machine system at the Newnan, Ga., family fun center. She said she believes there will always be a place for tokens and tickets. “I don’t have a lot of problems with machines down,” she said. “We can take care of 90 percent of the problems with machines right on the spot.” Ciminnisi and her employees manage larger prizes with a log book. The employees have to sign the prizes out when they are won.
Hal Shilling, the owner of Kokomo’s Family Fun Center in Saginaw, Mich., has a wide selection of prizes in the 5-1000 ticket range. Not so many as to make it impossible for kids to make a decision, though. “We have right around 75 items in the 5-500 range and another 40 items in the 500-1000 range. We use quite a bit of candy items in the 5-200 range. We stock these items on the front shelves for easy access,” he said.
Larger items are stocked on the back redemption wall. “It is important to keep stable items like whoopee cushions, fuzzy dice, disappearing ink, etc., but it is also important to keep on top of current trends like movie-related plush and iPhone-related items.”
Shilling recently switched to a card machine. Before that, arcade games paid out tickets that were then fed into a ticket station machine. It shredded the tickets and issued a receipt for the total number of tickets counted. This slip was taken to the redemption counter where it was scanned into their redemption inventory program. The customer then selected merchandise against this credit for tickets until all tickets were used up.
“The [Sacoa Card System] will skip the physical tickets and the ticket counting machine. The total tickets won will be put on the customer’s game card,” said Shilling. A few games in the arcade will still use tokens if they are essential to game play.
“Our discussions with every top FEC has been that the card system has increased their business anywhere from 15 to 30 percent,” Shilling said.
It seems that these fun centers are doing what’s best for them individually. Game/credit type cards are easy to use and less of a handful then gathering up and holding onto many tickets. However, children also enjoy the look of their mounds of tickets and knowing how many they have in their hands. So, whatever a specific fun center is comfortable with and whatever helps with prize and usage monitoring and management, that’s could be the best system. In the end, families will continue to come have fun and win those prizes.