One of the challenges of running a Battlefield Business is customers not showing up to events.
From wasted preparation time, to opportunity cost, to lost income, a no-show can impact on your business growth.
No shows cannot just impact on your business but other stakeholders as well.
For example, if you have booked say, three groups of 10 gamers and then a fourth group of 15 people call you and want to book in at the same time, then you might have to turn them away. In this case not only you but the group who missed out are disappointed if one of the original groups don’t make it.
It is a sad state of affairs all round.
While it may be impossible to eliminate completely, here are 7 tips to reduce no shows in your battlefield business. These 7 tips come from 10 different battlefield operations; from an outdoor maze, and a transportable ride company, from outdoor tactical laser tag operations, to a laser tag rental business and businesses that run both laser tag and paintball, to an indoor laser tag arena, and finally to a sports center and multi-activity adventure park.
These business insights come from operators in Australia, Belgium, Denmark, USA and the Netherlands.
Ask for an event deposit. That way the customer has some skin in the game.
In fact, the practice of taking a deposit is common among battlefield operators.
Lea Bowen who runs Hedgend Maze in Healesville, Australia says “We always take a 50% deposit here.”
Tim Breugelmans from Springbeest in Belgium agrees: “We do more or less the same; we invoice 50% [of the booking] up-front.”
“What is my best tip to prevent no shows? 1. Deposit. 2. See Number 1,” said Jonathon Simonetis from Tas Laser Skirmish, in Tasmania Australia.
Many laser tag businesses send a confirmation email out the day a customer makes a booking.
The Battlefield HQ software system enables operators to send out a batch of confirmation emails that takes exactly what is recorded in our database and sent to them to double check that all their bookings details are correct.
“With our local rental business. Laser Tag in a Box, we send an email confirmation to the organize so they can double check we have all their details correct. You'd be surprised how many 'Boundary Streets' or 'High Streets' or 'Second Avenues' or for that matter 'Springfield' suburbs there are! So, by asking the customer to check the booking details we can avoid mix ups,” said Nicole Lander from Laser Tag in a Box, in Australia.
Arlo Moon who operates Mockingjay Skirmish in Toowoomba, Australia also takes a deposit. “As well as taking a deposit, I text to confirm the deposit is in, and then I will text them the day before or just before the session,” he said.
Have you noticed that there is a particular type of customer who often does not show up?
Ask yourself “Who’s not showing up? Is there a pattern?”
Many of our bookings come from Moms of 10-year-old boys, this type of customer almost always attends the event they have organized. (Apart from the rare occasion that little Jonny has broken his leg the day before his birthday party!)
But teenager who are organizing their own party or someone who is organizing a Buck’s Party or Stag Do can be more unreliable.
Knowing which customer groups are likely to offer the best return on investment will impact on your marketing plans.
“At our local battlefield operations, in Laser Skirmish, we off a discount for pre-paid tickets,” said Nicole Lander.
A walk-in ticket is $43pp for a 2-hour session. Whereas if a customer pre-pays (at least 2 business days in advance) for the same public session ticket the price drops to only $34pp. Incentives are also given to customers with large groups. Pre-pay for 10 to 19 gamers the ticket is $30pp. Pre-pay for 20 to 29 gamers the ticket price drops to $27pp.
Likewise if an organizer books in a group of 30 or more players then ticket price drops to a low of only $24pp.
Dennis Bidlake from Mango Hill Skirmish in Brisbane, Australia says “We ask our customers to pay in advance. Either credit card on phone, eft or cash here. This covers everyone's bases.”
Steve Calabro from Laser Ops Entertainment in Oregon, USA goes one step further. Laser Ops Entertainment asks for pre-payment of the booking. “We collect credit card details. No shows are charged for their event,” he said.
Online booking systems and shopping carts are not only convenient for customers, they can help reduce the number of no shows.
“I use bookeo. It sets rules and guidelines for cancellations and no shows that customers agree to when they book,” said Steve Calabro.
Bookeo is a cloud-based app that offers a reservation system. Popular with Escape Room operators, the booking system enables customers to book group (public session) games, private games as well as corporate team building activities.
The Battlefield HQ software also enables you to record a “stand-by” list.
If, for example, you need a minimum of 6 gamers to open a public session and someone has enquirer about booking in only 2 players then you can record their contact details and put them on stand-by. That way if the event does open up you can call them back and book them in.
As social media has become ubiquitous its power as a marketing channel has exploded.
Many people check their Facebook account or Instagram account every day.
Research form GWI shows how much time people are spending on social media. The report showed that on average it is more than 2 hours and 20 minutes a day!
At our local battlefields in South East Queensland we have four Facebook profiles for our four venues. This makes that gamers can check-in when they are on site. But it also means we can publish a Facebook event for our weekly sessions.
"This is particularly useful if we are running a special event like our FORTNITE-live Battle Royale games or our events for Veteran Gamers," said Nicole Lander from Laser Skirmish in Australia.
While implementing administrative systems for deposits, confirmations and follow-ups are all helpful the fundamental way to ensure no shows is to offer your games a fabulous gaming experience.
Hans Louwerse from Sport & Survival Team in Ede, the Netherlands says: “No shows.... not happening... make sure that your play area is that good... that they want to play on it. And also play games with good instructions and ensure good guidance... that’s important.”
Whatever other ways you employ to help avoid no shows the ultimate safe guard is to offer a thrilling and memorable experience for your games. That way, they will want to keep coming back.
Non-attendance of customers can be a colossal pain-in-the-butt. Not to mention it can be a pain in your hip-pocket.
Unfortuantely, sometimes they are unavoidable.
But knowing how to reduce their impact on your business is a priority.
The issue of no shows is not a simple one.
There is a myriad of reasons why someone does not turn up, especially if they have already paid for their ticket!
But by putting these 7 tips into action can certainly be a good start to reducing the number of no shows at your Battlefield Business.