Laser tag is one of the most profitable attractions in the entertainment industry, especially if you do it right. LaserTAG360 is an education event designed to help you do it right the first time. Creative Works covers the core of the laser tag education, but the event goes far beyond laser tag. They bring in experts from across the industry to speak on other topics such as project financing, food & beverage strategy, group sales, and marketing.
During this 2.5 day event, attendees learn everything they need to know to successfully operate laser tag and other themed attractions. Here we’ll cover just a few takeaways from this event.
Key #1 – Don’t Use Demographic Ring Studies
When most entrepreneurs get a demographic study for their business plan, they do a typical ring study of 3, 5, 7, and maybe 10 miles. We recommend you consider an amoeba-shape study instead. An amoeba-shape study differs from a ring study because it accounts for geographic and perceived barriers. These might include things like bridges, rivers, or road construction. In many areas, it’s uncommon for people to cross one of these barriers.
You also want to pay close attention to drive time. The typical family is willing to drive up to 20 minutes without thinking twice about it. For anything further, they must determine if they’re willing to load up and drive across town. This can vary for different states and regions, but 20 minutes is a good rule of thumb. Think about your own life; how far are you willing to drive to go out for dinner or entertainment? Instead of doing a 3, 5, 7, and 10-mile ring study, we recommend doing a 5, 10, and 20-minute amoeba drive time study. This provides a more accurate measurement of how many people are in your market.
In Indianapolis where our company is located, we can get halfway across the city in 20 minutes. But in a city like Chicago, we might only get a couple miles. The difference between mileage and drive time makes a huge impact on how accurate your demographic study will be.
Key #2 – How Much Should You Charge for Laser Tag?
There are several factors that impact how much you’ll charge for laser tag. First, you must determine if your laser tag is a primary or secondary attraction. Laser tag is a primary attraction when it plays a large role in your FEC, or when you operate a stand-alone laser tag facility. Secondary attractions are additional pieces to your FEC puzzles, but they are not the primary drivers of traffic.
Second, you should research what the competitors in your area are charging. Ultimately you want to provide the most overall value in a way that helps drive revenue per capita at your facility.
In a primary laser tag attraction, you’ll typically have a longer, more immersive experience. This allows you to set a higher price point per game; typically somewhere around $8-$10 per game for a single game. You can discount the pricing when guests buy multiple games. So you might do $9 for a single game, $17 for two games, and then $25 for 3 games.
The same discounting principle applies for secondary attractions, but you’ll start at a lower overall price point. This is because there are so many other offerings in a facility that installs laser tag as a secondary attraction. It’s an up-sell opportunity rather than a driving force for traffic. You might look at $7 for a single game, $13 for two games, and then $19 for three games.
These prices are suggestions, as every market is a little bit different. But this should give you a good starting point.
Key #3 – How to Create the Perfect Laser Tag Brief
The brief is the first step to every laser tag experience. The players gather in the briefing room where they learn how to play, what the rules are, and all the safety information. Too often, operators treat the laser tag brief as an afterthought; a necessary legal precaution before the players can have fun. But this is the wrong approach. The brief is a crucial step in the laser tag experience and should be treated as such. The brief is a guest’s first impression of your laser tag attraction, and it sets the tone and expectation for everything to come.
Your staff members have announced the game and gathered all the players into the room. Too often, operators will let their game marshals move directly to the video, which is the next step below. But before that happens, the game marshals should give a quick welcome and introduction. They should tell everyone their names and what their roles are. This helps your guests see the marshals as go-to authorities for safety and questions during the game. The video portion below is all about how to play and what rules to follow, so the welcome gives the game marshals the opportunity to tell the story of your laser tag attraction.
Every laser tag attraction is story-driven. Whether your theme is outer space, an urban battleground, a jungle adventure, or anything in between, there’s a story. This story is what bridges the gap and explains why guests are going from a family fun center environment into an urban battleground. Without the story, this transition feels odd. Once the stage is set and the story is told, it’s time to play the briefing video provided by your laser tag equipment company.
Video briefs are excellent additions to a briefing experience. We use the term “addition” because a video should never replace your game marshals. Guests are paying good money to get an experience they can’t get at home, and you shouldn’t cheapen that experience by removing the personal touch. The video brief is great for explaining the basic safety rules and how to operate the laser tag equipment.
The safety part is especially important. With the video, you know the key safety elements are always explained. Every guest will always hear the safety rules, no matter what. Your game marshals will still reiterate the rules and monitor the arena during the game, but the video helps avoid situations where a guest tries to claim, “they never said I couldn’t run.”
Both during the welcome section and here after the video brief, it’s important to give your game marshals the latitude to personalize the experience to make it more fun. You don’t want game marshals who are lazily going through the motions and repeating the exact same thing repeatedly in every brief. This is boring for guests, especially those who have been to your center and seen the brief before.
Your game marshals should have specific points they always have to cover, such as reiteration of the basic rules from the video, as well as more specific rules for your particular attraction. But let them have fun and come up with new ways to personalize the brief for the audience. Maybe they want to call out specific birthday guests to help demonstrate how to put on the equipment. Or maybe you have a corporate group who’s been enjoying adult beverages. In these kinds of situations, it’s important to let your game marshals “read” the audience and cater the brief accordingly. After all, the way you communicate with a group of pre-teens in birthday parties is very different from how you communicate with adults. Your briefing experience should reflect these differences.
It’s impossible to recap the entire LaserTAG360 event in a single article. The takeaways in this blog post barely scratch the surface of what we cover during the event. If you’re interested in registering for the next event, click here. And if you want more educational content, click here.
Many thanks to Danny Gruening, CMO at Creative Works, for contributing to this article and sharing his insight into setting up and running a successful laser tag attraction. Creative Works are a full-service theme creator, prop builder and attractions provider to theme parks, museums, family entertainment centers, restaurants, tourist attractions, and other venues. For almost 20 years, they have brought ideas to life with a talented team of designers, sculptors, craftsmen, and artisans.