9 Steps To Your Grand Opening For Your Laser Tag Business
Here are 9 steps to take to count-down towards the “ignition” and blast off of your new business. The Grand Opening is an important part of the launch of your new laser tag business so here are some hints and tips for Battlefield Operators.
1. GUINEA-PIGS - T-minus 60 days
Get used to running laser tag games by using your friends and family as guinea-pigs. Run some test games for at least a week after you receive your laser tag equipment.
This gives you enough time to condition your batteries and get a good feel for how to use the laser tag guns. For some more info on how to condition your batteries, refer to the Fact Sheet.
Give yourself some time. No big hoop-la here. This is simply a series of dry runs. These free-of-charge events are much for your benefit as they will be fun for your friends and family.
2. TICKET PRICES - T-minus - 46 days
Work out how much you are going to charge for tickets. A good place to start is to investigate what other similar attractions charge in your local market.
Key things to consider when pricing your tickets are:
• Price on value, but cover your costs - remember you are creating one of their best memories so that's priceless!
• Price in your market - what are other similar entertainments charging?
We recommend including this expenditure in your business plan under your first year's marketing spend.
Of course, there are lots of things to do to set up a new business – legal stuff, accounting items, etc. But if you are adding laser tag to an existing attraction then you’ll probably have all this sort of admin bits and pieces already handled.
Check out the blog that covers how much to charge for a laser tag ticket.
3. MARKETING KICK-OFF - T-minus 45 days
You may not have the same budget that Ikea or Wal-Mart has for one of their store launches, but it is important to decide on, what you want to do and how much it will cost. Consider your launch budget - have you budgeted TV and radio and social media?
The more time you have a whet the appetite of your audience the better. I've seen some operators have a 12-month count-down before they run their first event. While this might be over-kill a good marketing campaign for 4 to 6 weeks prior to opening your doors can be very effective.
To save on costs, for example, your cousin might own a local restaurant, ask him or her if you can negotiate discounted or donated food for the event in exchange for free team-building or employee of the month prizes. Use all of your 'grassroots' marketing you can to promote the event.
When you tell the public about your business in an advertisement, you are essentially saying how good you are. But when a newspaper writes about you or radio host tells the public about your business they are the judges of your service.
Drop into the local newspaper, newsrooms, introduce yourself, and chat about your new business.
Send media releases about the opening, observing carefully the deadlines of your local media. You’ll need a series of press releases six weeks, four weeks, 10 days and a few days after the event.
4. SOFT-OPENING - T-minus 40 days
Once you are confident in the use of the laser tag equipment and the workflow from booking to entertainment then you can open your doors to paying customers. Many battlefield operators offer a reduced ticket price for the first month of operations. These opening specials can take the pressure off you and your staff as customers realize you are a new business.
Ensuring your soft opening is at least 1 month before your official Grand Opening allows for the unexpected such as delays. Plus it gives you a chance to work out any kinks in your operations. More it gives you and your staff time to get comfortable in the operations.
You might want to even role play through your planned order of events so everything goes to plan on Grand Opening Day.
If your new laser tag attraction is an expansion to your current business, then you will likely already have a database of customers. Email or post them a notification that you have just added laser tag!
5. INVITATIONS - T-minutes 35 days
Just your customers send out invites to their kid's birthday party you need to invite key stakeholders to your Grand Opening. Consider who you're trying to reach. Ideally, you want to target your future customers. But you also need to consider your:
• The media, and
• Community stakeholders.
The first thing to do is invite people from within your sphere of influence, i.e. past business contacts, friends, and family. You need your core support group there as well as influential business people that you have a rapport with.
See if you can get the local mayor or state Governor there to support your new enterprise. Look who’s to say if they will come. But if you don’t ask, you’ll never know! I’d start from the top, and work down. :-)
You need to get this invitation out early so if your "Plan A" doesn't work you can move to "Plan B"!
Mail your invitations two or three weeks ahead of opening day. Politicians have busy schedules so invite them four to six weeks prior to the event. Two or three days before the opening, follow up on your invitations with phone calls. If you know a big name football or baseball star invite them along too.
6. PRESS DAY - T-minute 8 Days
As part of your grand opening, you are running a press day then, of course, you don't charge anything. Rather the journalists and bloggers expect to be looked after.
This is often a week before your actual grand opening day. While your official grand opening day will likely be a Saturday many media do not work on the weekends so your Media Day should a mid-week occasion.
7. GRAND OPENING EVE - T-minus 1 Day
You are almost there!
Prepare your venue and make sure it is shipshape! For example, you might like to drape your battlefield's entrance with camo bunting.
You’d be astonished how many people find your battlefield for the first time just from driving by and seeing your sign.
8. THE BIG DAY - YOUR GRAND OPENING - Blast Off!
Plan your grand opening ceremony for high traffic time. Since you are launching an entertainment facility, an optimum time is during the weekend, late Saturday morning or early Saturday afternoon, say between 11:00 am to 3:00 pm is the often best time to increase guest attendance.
Create a timetable for the day, and decide on who is responsible for what. For example:
- Ribbon cutting ceremony (where and when)
- Your company official or spokesperson (work out who is doing the talking, the event needs a master of ceremonies)
- Refreshments - if you don't have a cafe incorporated into your venue, then cater for the day. Serve coffee, cook a sausage sizzle, offer drinks such as punch and cookies
- Include door prizes and/or draws
- Have hands-on demonstrations of the gear.
- Offer Free Games!
On the day, run promotional attention getters. This is to keep the excitement and energy going throughout the day.
But keep the activities in theme, and make sure the activities you choose are in keeping with what you plan to do an on-going basis. This way, you are more likely to attract to your event the people who want to patronize your business in the future.
For instance, you might have a balloon release (check with your local authorities to see if a permit is required) but all the balloons are camo - or at least tan, green, and black.
9. WRAP UP - T plus 7 days
Keep good records. Have a grand prize that can be entered using business cards at the event. Have back up registration forms - not everyone has business cards - keep this with the rest of the theme.
For example, you might like to have a duffel bag or ammo box as the entry box. Use the entry forms/business cards to build a mailing list.
Finally, don't worry if you had less than expected people at your grand opening.
Often people can't make it on one particular date.
We recommend also having a grand opening month, with special discounts and offers for the first several weeks of your operations.