I recently attended a birthday party for a friend’s child at a new indoor climbing center. The facility had recently opened and there was a lot of hype surrounding its unique climbing structures and offerings.
When you’re the new entertainment venue in town, your facility will naturally get a lot of attention and new bookings of people who are eager to try out your offerings. But all the best attractions won’t bring guests back if you don’t live up to the hype with the right guest experience. Read on for five tips I developed from my recent visit so that you can deliver a better birthday party experience every time.
1. Consider who’s the star of the moment.
The first thing I did when I arrived at the facility was looked for a greeter to inquire where to go for Maggie’s party. The greeter directed me to Maggie’s party host standing behind the admissions desk. I was surprised that the party host was still at the counter considering I was arriving 15 minutes into the party start time.
A greeter or line buster can be a great addition to your admissions staff at busy times to manage first-time visits, direct traffic and to help late party guests check in and get connected to the right party. Your birthday child (and by extension his or her parents) should be the center of your party host’s attention – ensuring they receive the star treatment and that you’re managing the right flow of the party. Greeters, party hosts for the next wave of parties, or runners can manage late comers and help them know where to join their party. This can easily be managed away from Admissions using mobile POS stations. Team members can quickly check in party guests and validate liability waivers, ensuring accurate headcounts and necessary add-on invoicing.
2. Minimize party flow pain points.
After talking with the party host, I learned that I needed a liability waiver to enter the facility and get my (non-participating) wristband. I was directed back to the kiosk to complete my waiver and then received my wristband so I could join the party. From there we waited another 25 minutes in the party room while staff were putting on harnesses and parents were chatting. The birthday child was off in the corner talking with friends. Eventually, my friend had to ask what the delay in getting started was. She learned that the party would start after the lead host finished checking attendees in and ensuring liability waivers were completed.
How guests interact with your business in the first five minutes can decide whether they return so consider how to quickly get them in, process-compliant and playing. If every guest entering your facility must complete a liability waiver, make sure they know that before a greeter directs them to Admissions. Minimize check-in friction points and confusion about liability waivers with the steps in our recent blog Liability Waiver Housekeeping 101.
3. Ensure that everyone knows their role.
At the party I attended, there were four party hosts. The lead I already mentioned checked in attendees while in the party room another staff member helped children with harnesses and the last two were either chatting with each other or occasionally with an attendee. No one was in charge. No one was making the birthday child feel like the star of the day. No one was managing the flow of the party so that mom felt like she was getting her money’s worth.
Birthday parties can be a very lucrative part of your business, but parents are going to expect you to manage every detail. Staff who don’t take charge of the stages of the birthday party put your business at risk. Parents may take control of the party, feeling like they must to do everything themselves, and complain and/or ask for discounts afterwards. Not to mention that a party without a flow is destined to finish late which could have a domino effect on the rest of your schedule for the day.
If you offer parties that are large enough to warrant multiple hosts, ensure that every member of the team has a well-trained role – whether it’s doting on the birthday child, facilitating games, giving safety briefings, managing the party schedule or some combination of these roles, organization is a must if you want repeat visits and future party bookings.
4. Remember that it’s supposed to be fun.
Once the lead party host arrived, she immediately began barking orders to get everyone listening to the safety briefing which explained what not to do while climbing.
The safety briefing is a serious component of any attraction experience, but what it’s not is a moment where guest service should suffer. Remember that it’s a party and should be a fun, exciting time for a birthday child and their guests. When transitioning to a safety briefing, for example, take the time to gain everyone’s attention, center it back on the birthday child and how exciting it is to be celebrating with him/her. Be sure to use positive language wherever possible to explain the right way to use attractions. Check for understanding by asking attendees what they will do at the attractions, such as:
- Will we run during laser tag? (No)
- What does it mean to jump safe on the trampolines? (no double bouncing, no bouncing in someone else’s square, etc.)
- Who can help you clip your harness on? (hosts or parents, etc.)
5. Keep fine-tuning your experience.
In the end, the attendees had a fine time climbing and the party ended without incident. But it also ended without excitement.
Maintain a strict focus on the guest experience that you want to create and use every tool at your disposal to continuously improve and fine-tune your party execution. There will probably be times when staff hit it out of the park – and times when they don’t. Use regular party host meetings to share best practices and share guest and host feedback to celebrate strengths and discuss learning opportunities. The first step to delivering a better birthday is knowing that you can.
Feeling like you could use some help with your birthday party experience? Join the fun with industry expert, Frank Price’s, upcoming Birthday University event and learn everything you need to take your birthday party experience to the next level – and increase revenue. Request a scholarship today.
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