Before deciding on a cashless system partner, take the time to evaluate a few key factors.

The use of cashless debit card systems has become a standard operating procedure for many arcade, family and multi-attraction entertainment centers. For new operators, the question is no longer, “Should I purchase a cashless system?” but rather, “Which cashless system is right for my business?”

Here are our top seven considerations to help you make your decision:

No. 1: Choose the best user experience

Think about how guests will be interacting with the system. Begin by making a list of questions your solution must answer, such as:

  • Will it be simple for any guest to operate?
  • Will the system give appropriate cues as guests interact with it?
  • Does it clearly show how points or tickets are awarded?
  • How easy is it for a guest to activate an additional play?
  • Does it offer flexibility so guests can easily add additional money to a card or other media?

No. 2: Keep a lookout for innovation

In addition to the actual user interface with your attractions and games, your guests are going to develop a lot of quick assumptions about your facility based on their first impressions.

With just a glance, guests will begin to assess your site’s cleanliness, how well maintained your attractions are and how up to date every aspect of your facility appears. All of these factors impact your guests’ perceptions of quality and value, which ultimately determines how much they’re willing to spend in your facility.

Consider a cashless system that offers up-to-date hardware with the future in mind. Many water parks and other entertainment facilities are moving towards using contactless technology to manage payments and access control, and this is trend is likely to continue. Some questions to ask include:

  • Is there a variety in the type of payment technology the provider offers?
  • How important is innovation to the potential system provider?
  • What is their plan for future updates, and does it match your plans for your park’s future?

No. 3: Assess ease of operation, training and trouble-shooting

Consider who will be responsible for technology in your facility and the team that will be operating it daily. Will the system be easy to manage and operate from a facility perspective? Are parts easily interchangeable for self-trouble shooting and repairs?  How quickly and easily are replacement parts available?

Also, evaluate the training plan and find out about any resources. Will there be a single point of contact available to answer any questions that arise? Find out in advance how training and troubleshooting will be handled.

No. 4: Make sure they provide adequate tech support

Ease of access to quality technical support is an important part of your cashless system investment. Be sure that you understand how the provider offers support. Consider things like hours available on call, emergency service, the terms of ongoing service agreements and, of course, warranties.

Get references from others in the industry about their experience with tech support within the cashless provider’s organization. If possible, ask about real-world challenges that another client has experienced so you can see how an issue was resolved. Hiccups are bound to happen, but how a provider handles those challenges makes all the difference.

No. 5: Confirm that they can keep up with your growing business

You likely have an idea of where you want your business to be in three or five years’ time. Consider your future needs at a high level. Are there integrations available to meet your future accounting needs, food and beverage, capacity ticketing, additional attractions, etc.?

This point cannot be stressed enough. You don’t want to find yourself looking back and saying, “If I knew then what I know now, I would have made a different decision.” Consider a cashless provider that has strong relationships and integrations with other partners that will help you operate seamlessly as you grow.

No. 6: Understand both up front and long-term costs

There are many fee structure options in place for both the upfront deployment and on-going operation of your cashless system. That’s why it’s important to understand the options available to you, and the differences between the programs so that you can make the most informed decision.

There are many overlooked yet essential costs that can impact your budget if you’re not careful. Here are a few questions to ask:

  • Does the provider offer a one-time license fee, or is it subscription based?
  • Are there other required recurring fees?
  • How do you get cards and other media, and what are the costs for acquiring them or adding your facility artwork?
  • If supplying your own media, is there a fee for encoding or numbering your file?
  • What is the estimated cost for any additional networking equipment or other components that you must supply on your own?

No. 7: Find a partner you’ll be happy doing business with long term

Every provider offers a host of features and benefits, with more being added all the time. But beyond just checking off a list of offerings, it’s important that you like and have a good feeling about the entire organization. One industry friend likes to say, “Partnerships in this industry are a lot like a marriage. So who do you want to sit across the dinner table from for the next 10 years?”

How did you decide on a cashless system? Let us know below in the comments or on Twitter.

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