There are already plenty of amusement outlets competing for the entertainment dollar, but for many indoor family entertainment centers, the summer presents even more challenges to keeping your guests loyal.

Before you decide to change your hours or do a rain dance in the parking lot, consider this sage advice from marketing expert, Jill Konrath: “Know your competition, but don’t obsess over them.”

Read on to learn about five sources of competition that might be stealing your guests’ attention this summer, and how to overcome – not obsess over – them:

1. The weather and summer vacations

The summer is well under way: School’s out, the smell of barbecue is in the air and many families are packing their suitcases and headed out of town.

But that doesn’t mean that you should accept a reality of a slow season for your FEC. Consider how to make the weather work for you instead of against you.

As we turn the corner into the heat of the summer, a lot of people are over basking in the sunshine and starting to wonder how they can beat the heat. The key to effective summer FEC marketing is in connecting the right message to the right audience at the right time, so if you haven’t begun to entice your audience with free air conditioning, cold drinks, safe and comfortable family play and the like, now is your chance.

Summer passes and monthly memberships are also a great way to capture more of your market share this time of year. Consider building unique membership and benefits programs that offer guests an opportunity to enjoy your facility more often for the remainder of the season (and beyond). Not only does this offer you revenue in advance and a chance at more repeat business but also enables you to build a recurring revenue stream long past Labor Day.

Also, now is a good time to reach out to local hotels, restaurants and other entertainment venues to try to build partnerships and referral programs that attract their guests, or host team building events with their staff – or yours! Getting together with like-minded businesses can often help raise the tide for the entire community.

2. The same old FEC

Don’t let your FEC become “the same old, been there, done that FEC” in town.

While your existing guests might be looking for the next new and exciting attraction, it’s unlikely that they’ve tried every attraction, game or menu item in your facility.  Help them see your facility in a new light.

Inventive packages, new games or attractions, specials and menu items can give your offerings the boost they need to wow guests once again. In fact, something as simple as moving games around in your game room can give guests a whole new perspective and reason to stay and play, without costing any extra money.

Help your guests maximize their stay by suggesting different offerings to give them a unique experience. They’ll be happier, and you’ll reap some of the benefits of being “new” again.

I once worked with an indoor FEC that built a scavenger hunt through the game room and offered bonus arcade points to guests who completed the hunt. Guests received a map and wove around the game room trying some hidden games that previously received less traffic. It was a creative way to boost traffic, engage guests more and increase interest in redemption items – all which resulted in more play.

You could be even more effective by crafting some strategic social posts to go along with your “new” offerings, upselling conversations and in-center marketing efforts to accompany them. Bottom line, a little creativity can make a big impact.

3. Painful customer friction

Are you your facility’s own worst enemy? Your guests might decide it’s too much of a hassle to visit your FEC due to the presence of guest service friction points.

Now is a great time to take a good hard look at your processes, training needs and major cleaning checklists that you haven’t been able to get to in a while. Use any downtime you may have to connect with your audience and discover where you may need to invest a little time and energy improving your business.

When things are busy, it can be so difficult just keeping everything running that we don’t take these important steps. But since the time will pass anyway, why not use it more wisely? Use guest and team member feedback, comment cards, surveys and the sales reports at your disposal to learn where your attention is needed the most.

4. The local competition

It’s a good idea to know what your competition is up to, even if you’re not obsessing about them.

Knowing what they offer, what they excel at and what your competitive advantages are can help equip you for sales conversations and contract reviews down the line.

Remember: Just because your competition is offering a money-losing special offer, doesn’t mean you should. Competing only on price is a race to the bottom, but being aware of special offers, group packages and your competitors’ voices in the market is useful in helping your business be the best version of itself.

Consider a competitor’s social media presence. How do your business social accounts compare, and what you would you like to keep, kill or change about your current approach? What social media platforms are they using? How often are they posting? Are they engaging the audience or only pushing out offers? What do you offer or believe that is unique and authentic that you wish for your guests to know?

It’s not at all about copying your competition – but rather knowing firmly who you are, and how and why your guests should care about your business.

5. The pull of the couch

The other week, I saw an image that compared and contrasted week one of summer vacation to the rest of the summer. Trips to the zoo, the ice cream shop and the community pool on one side … little more than the internet at home on the other.

The truth is, we’re competing every day with our audience’s own home entertainment options.

In addition to memberships and passes, try enticing guests with things like free Wi-Fi, coffee for parents and unique programming like mascot and character visits, planned activities and other specials. No matter what efforts you choose, be sure to measure program success, so you’ll be able to improve those efforts in the future.

Enjoy peace of mind the rest of this summer knowing you’re doing all you can to maximize potential. (By the way, yes, it’s still too early for pumpkin spice.)

Have other ideas that you plan to use to finish the summer strong? Share them with us in the comments or on Twitter.

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