A Battlefield Operator's Point of View
Former bio-chemist from California, turned entertainer, Steven Bennett offers his insights on the most important parts of successful laser tag events.
"When I started this business, my background had nothing to do with entertainment. I was a biochemist. I worked in a laboratory. I started this business 4 years ago. [At time of recording the video.] There was nothing to do in Bakersfield.
I was looking at the website. It was a Sunday night, I saw Battlefield Sports. I called and Ken answered the phone.
Shortly after that, Shaun came up to my house and we talked about it. Before I knew it I'm in Australia to see Peter. And the [gaming] guns came 30 days later. And 30 days after that I hosted my first Church group. And then I had an entertainment business.
[I thought] where do I go from here with this? A lot of things have changed over the years, we started doing one or two parties a month. Now we are getting more and more different groups, getting involved with schools. Parks are a big thing with me. My first go-round with the parks was "Guns! No way! That's not going to happen". But now it's a big market. I just kept plugging at it.
I approached the local Chamber of Commerce. I did join that. I did join the business development committee in the Chamber. You want to get your name out. You want to start meeting people. Next thing you know you are sitting at a table with the Mayor. Sitting at the table with the head of ConocoPhillips or Occidental Petroleum, these big guys had representatives at these meetings. As far as events go, we've got our product known, we did do a very successful partner up with a local, popular radio station. Which actually did the leg work behind it, I was just supplying the [gaming] guns. We went to Bakersfield College and we set up on the football field. They actually did the organizing. They brought the US Army in as well. There was a US Army tent. We had this big promotional deal. Come play combat laser tag at Bakersfield College. People had to sign up online via the radio station website.
And what happened was there were the teams. There was one representative from the US Army and one representative from the radio station and kids in the community. So the kids were playing with their favorite DJ, or with a guy from the US Army on 50 yards of a football field. It was pretty cool. And kind of started us. We started to get parties and bookings from that. A couple of things about mobile.
I talked to Peter about it at dinner the other night. Very important that you are, obviously, punctual. We are always right on time. If your start time is at 1 o'clock, the most important part of that party is 1 to 1:15.
If it is a two-hour party [focus on] the first 15 minutes and the last 15 minutes, that's when the parents are dropping off their kids. I tell my guys "on your toes!" because of the first 15 minutes that when you are promoting your product. You are not just promoting it for that one birthday party. We treat it like, sure it is one kid's birthday party, but it is every kid's party. Obviously it is a little bit more special for that one individual, but I've still got 12 kids I'm doing a birthday party for.
And I want to get 11 more booked birthday parties from those other kids. So the first 15 minutes and the last 15 minutes, we not are doing games that are Team Elimination Games [without respawns]. Do not do Elimination Games [free-for-all i.e. no respawns] at the end of your party. No parent wants to pick up their kid at a birthday party when standing next to your table waiting because he got killed [tagged out]. So, that's just, you know, all the kids should be playing that last 15 minutes.
Especially when the parents come to pick up their kids. We have Battlefield LIVE inflatables, the large ones, we bring them out, typically for the larger events.
They are very heavy. We do a lot of the L's and the 55-gallon barrel, in camouflage. You can blow up a bit of yellow & black paintball inflatables in a park. That is, you know, paintball. And people were complaining about that. "There's paintball going on in the park".
We kind of keep-away from that type of thing and keep to the camouflage type of thing.
You are the showman.
You are the entertainer.
You are the product.
The first 15 minutes and the last 15 minutes are very important."