Is Apple is primed to disrupt and maybe even dismantle the laser tag industry as we know it today? The laser tag industry has not had a major shakeup or disruption for several years. The previous shakeup may not even be considered a “real” shakeup. The closest we come previously to a disruptive activity was the invention and proliferation of outdoor laser tag. While this was technically created many years ago it wasn’t until about 10 years ago that it started to take off in both the US and the UK. The technology surrounding laser tag has been through several serious evolutions to try and satisfy the appetite of this next generation who have all but demanded laser tag look and feel more like the first person shooter video games that dominate the in-home market.
Birthday parties are the primary source of revenue for most family entertainment centers. As an FEC owner, you probably dream about being fully booked for parties every weekend, and you up-sell the parents on party extras to maximize the revenue for each event. But is it possible for parents to spend too much on a party for their child? Do some parents cross a line?
Critics of Eric Lembo and Trang Nguyen certainly think so. These parents, who live in Australia, spent the equivalent of $39,000 USD on a birthday party for their 3-year-old daughter. Eric and Trang spared no expense on the Disney-Themed party, hiring a balloon artist, a photo booth, Disney characters, entertainment from a former Australian Idol contestant, a lavish food menu, and more.
Main Event Entertainment, the Dallas-based family entertainment company, just reached a new milestone with the opening of their 20th location.
This new location was opened in Tulsa, Oklahoma, as part of the company’s expansion to states outside Texas. In addition to Oklahoma and Texas, Main Event also has locations operating in Arizona, Missouri, Illinois, and Georgia. Main Event employs the Eat. Bowl. Play. experience for all guests, including kids, families, and corporations. Attractions at the Tulsa center include 20 up-scale bowling lanes, a multi-level laser tag arena, an indoor ropes course, and a large interactive arcade which sits under the suspended ropes course. In addition, guests will find attractive dining options, including a chef-inspired menu, specialty pizzas, and a full bar.
We are so excited to announce that we are bringing our software solutions to a whole new market with a new brand, Cinema Party Software. Cinema Party Software is geared specifically for movie theater and cinema operators. While our existing Party Center Software solution provides party booking as well as whole facility management for FEC’s (including point of sale and employee scheduling), this new brand is focused specifically on birthday party and group bookings.
The Cinema Party Software brand asks a simple question to movie theater operators: “Why aren’t you booking more parties?” In the past, parties haven’t been a focus for these operators. But a shift is occurring in the cinema industry right now, reminiscent of what’s been happening in the bowling industry for many years. Instead of building traditional movie theaters, operators are beginning to open hybrid FEC and cinema facilities. These hybrid facilities need a party booking solution to be successful. And even those traditional theaters that only have a couple party tables will need to put more focus on birthday parties to keep up with the competition.
As members of the entertainment industry community, we understand laser tag as an attraction and as a business. But an outsider to our industry may not know what laser tag is. Or an outsider wouldn’t know that it’s a legitimate business model. Some people might might only know laser tag from the references in the popular TV show How I Met Your Mother. Although it would make Barney Stinson proud (Legendary!) to know he shared laser tag with so many new people, the show’s references provide a very narrow look at the industry as a whole. To shed some light on these types of lesser-known businesses, Graham Winfrey published an article on www.inc.com.
In the article, Graham sites studies from IBISWorld regarding the revenue, competition, and barriers to entry for various businesses. As these studies show, laser tag is one of the most profitable businesses in the entertainment industry, with profit margins up to 40%. The laser tag industry generated $246 million in revenue last year, and that number is expected to rise above $300 million by 2019.
The video game market has become a multi-billion dollar industry. The improvements in graphics and technology have made the in-home gaming experience more fun. And enhancements such as the Kinect and Wii have made gaming more interactive. But there are still limitations to creating a genuine experience that feels real. So where can people go to get an interactive gaming experience? Some have turned to paintball, but that can be painful. Plus the equipment is expensive, which makes the barrier to entry for new players fairly high. More recently, consumers have discovered a different option: tactical laser tag.
Tactical laser tag is an industry that’s only a decade old. It’s a marriage between paintball and traditional indoor backlight laser tag, combining the strategy of the former with the painless play of the latter. Unlike traditional blacklight laser tag, tactical is not focused on individual scores. Rather, the games are all based on a team objective. This promotes more teamwork and strategy, similar to what you’d expect from an online cooperative video game. It creates a better version of objective-based first person shooter games that are so popular in the market.
We are thrilled to be an Alliance Partner for the inaugural Face 2 Face Entertainment Conference (F2FEC), a new conference focused on leadership and designed for decision makers. F2FEC is unique in that it’s not a tradeshow, and there’s no exhibition hall. It’s designed as a three-day experience of in-depth business discussions, interactive group sessions, and educational presentations.
F2FEC was developed by a group of longtime friends and entertainment business veterans known as The Three Amigos: Rick Iceburg, Ben Jones, and George Smith. They are passionate about the entertainment industry, and they want to affect positive change and growth for both operators and suppliers.
We are very excited to announce that we are sponsoring Foundations University in 2015. Foundations University was created 10 years ago, and the organization has been hosting 3-day educational workshops and seminars around the country. During these events, new and aspiring location-based entertainment operators learn about market feasibility, planning, design, development, marketing, and management.
The seminars are led by some of the most experienced veterans of the entertainment industry, including Randy White, Frank Seninsky, Jerry Merola, Alan Fluke, Peter Olesen, and Kevin Williams. There are 3 events planned for 2015:
Is OKC ready to play? Main Event Entertainment opened a new facility in Oklahoma City on November 28. The Dallas-based family entertainment company now has 19 locations across the country, with this being the first location in Oklahoma. Main Event was founded in 1998, and is a subsidiary of Ardent Leisure Group of Australia. These locations offer customers unique experiences as part of their “Eat.Bowl.Play.” initiative. Their fun brand and high quality attractions have allowed the company to continue expanding, and they plan to open more centers in 2015.
One of our clients is continuing to expand their business! Jumpstreet, an indoor trampoline park with more than 10 current locations across the country, is set to open 3 more in Tennessee. The first location will be open on December 17 in Goodlettsville, and the other 2 will open in early 2015 – in Franklin and Murfreesboro. The first Jumpstreet location was opened in Thornton, Colorado in 2007. Tim Crawford, the owner and designer, has been continually expanding across the country ever since.
Main Event Entertainment, the Dallas-based company with more than 15 current locations, has chosen Party Center Software as the event management and party booking solution for all of their facilities.
Main Event provides an interactive entertainment environment to guests of all ages as part of their “Eat.Bowl.Play” initiative. Their unique brand and high quality attractions have allowed the company to continue opening new facilities across the country. The party booking processes previously set in place were not viable long-term solutions, and they needed a software that would scale with their expansion efforts. The Main Event leadership team wanted to find a system that would provide valuable data, consistent processes, and simplified employee workflows across all locations.
Karl Ross – Laserdome
In the 90’s, Karl Ross owned his own computer repair business. He enjoyed being an entrepreneur and wanted to do something bigger and more tangible. “It seemed like entertainment would be a fun way to spend my time,” commented Karl. He spent a couple years researching and planning, which included a cross-country road trip to visit multiple laser tag manufacturers. The planning and development culminated with him opening Laserdome in 1999.
His role in the company has changed quite a bit in the last 15 years. At the beginning, he worked extremely long hours. “For the first probably 6-7 years, it was 80 hours a week; many nights sleeping at the business.” He even spent a couple years living in a room at his parent’s house to save money. That hard work at the beginning has paid off and made his life more enjoyable now. “A typical day for me is a quiet day in the office where I am supporting my managers…as well as starting new creative projects.”
For Mike Peverill, paintball was a passion. He started playing competitively almost 30 years ago; traveling all over the world, competing in tournaments, and winning equipment as prizes. He didn’t really have a need for the equipment, so he simply let his collection grow inside a garage. During his travels, he met a lot of people who were interested in purchasing some of his stock-piled equipment. At the time, the only way to purchase new equipment was through mail-order catalogs, so Mike thought it would be a good business idea to open a pro shop. A family friend let him use some property close by as a playing field, and he was in business. “Back in 1993, we opened up a pro shop and a paintball park, and that’s how it all came to be,” said Mike.
His paintball park has moved locations a couple times since opening. In 2000, they moved to a second location, but leased instead of buying. After a few years, the owners wanted to sell the land, so Mike was forced to move a final time to a 48 acre plot that he was able to purchase.
Scott Newberry – Rollarama Skating Center
Scott Newberry was indoctrinated into the world of roller skating at a very early age. His father started Rollarama Skating Center in 1957, and Scott began working in the skate room when he was twelve years old; handing out skates and doing maintenance. Scott began managing and running the business alongside his father in 1984. When his dad passed away, he took over the reigns and has been running it ever since.
Rollarama Skating Center has now been operating for more than 50 years, and it takes a lot of work to keep a small business successful for such a long period of time. Scott and his wife, Sue, attribute a lot of their success to having a good reputation in the community and great customer service. Even with customer service being a strong suit, they are always looking for ways to improve their business. To that end, they hired Bill Carlson as an industry consultant to help them tweak their operations. “In the last four or five years, our customer service and customer loyalty has been increased greatly,” commented Scott.
Urban Air Trampoline Park recently received an award for the Best Place for a Parent’s Night Out from the Frisco STYLE Magazine. Urban Air has multiple locations throughout the Dallas Fort Worth area, including a facility in Frisco. Safety is one of the biggest reasons that parents awarded this honor to Urban Air. They have “Secure Checkout” for kids, a camera monitoring system, and a management team that’s trained in CPR.
The trampoline park provides a variety of indoor trampoline activities such as open jump, sports training, dodgeball, and more.
Article originally published by Funworld Magazine.
Every winter, Sir Goony’s Family Fun Center in Chattanooga, Tennessee, undergoes its annual “paint-up/fix-up” routine to repair minor-to-moderate damage that occurred during the previous year. “You would be amazed how destructive customers can be,” notes owner Dutch Magrath.
However, 2014 proved to be different for the 54-year-old FEC, as Magrath decided to go for a major overhaul. He gutted and remodeled the inside of the building to allow space for a new major thrill attraction, added a new birthday room, and enlarged the game room. Plus, Magrath doubled the bumper car arena, changed from gas to electric go-karts, and renovated the golf courses.
He hoped to have all the work complete by March 1. Magrath unfortunately encountered the maddening constant in most renovation projects—delays.
Elaina Herber – WiggleWorks Kids
Elaina Herber didn’t dream of getting into the entertainment business. It was more by coincidence than anything else. She had been a successful IT consultant for 15 years, while simultaneously starting several businesses. When her first child was about 16 months old, she moved to San Francisco. With such a young child, she spent some time looking through parent resources online to find activities for toddlers in the area. She came across a business that eventually became the model for WiggleWorks Kids.
Elaina met with the owner and they became great friends. After some time, she found out she would be relocating to the Seattle area, and she knew that her new home offered nothing in the way of fun or enrichment for toddlers. The owner of the San Francisco facility had no desire to expand her business or franchise other locations, so Elaina took that model and brought it with her to Seattle.
Elaina opened her first WiggleWorks Kids location in November of 2012 in Bellevue, WA. The business was greeted with extreme enthusiasm by the local community. With her entrepreneurial nature, she wanted to keep expanding this business. But she wanted to do the next location outside of the Bellevue area, which was very high in gross and discretionary income. “If this model is going to work, it has to work in everywhere America,” commented Elaina.
Monkey Joe’s, the inflatable play center franchise with more than 50 locations, has chosen Party Center Software as the new provider for POS, Party Booking, and Facility Management solutions. They are in the midst of the roll-out process, with a large number of locations already operating with this new software.
We provide a platform that completely replaces the prior system used at Monkey Joe’s. With this new system, operators have become more efficient with party booking, saving time and money. “Party Center Software has saved us 20-30 minutes per party,” says Thomas Stiglic, owner of a location in Charleston, SC. “With Party Center Software, the guest is able to book their party (online) when it is convenient for them.”