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What are the biggest challenges our industry is facing

Gamer Centered Entertainment

What Are The Biggest Challenges Our Industry Is Facing Right Now?

Introduction

Often it is the challenges we face that define us. Over the last 18 months, the laser tag industry has faced its biggest challenges in a century.

(Ok, so the Laser Tag industry hasn't actually been around for 100 years. But I reckon this is our biggest challenge since we got started!)

Recently, I asked my peers in the industry, “What are the biggest challenges our industry is facing right now?

Operators from Australia, the USA, France, the UK, Greece offered their feedback.

Two challenges trended.

The two biggest challenges, right now, are:

  • personnel shortages and
  • pandemic hesitancy.

what are the biggest challenges?

COVID CONSEQUENCES


When Coronavirus hit the attractions and experience economy faced its biggest challenge in a century. Overnight borders were closed; the country went into lockdown and our industry had massive falls in revenue.

The pandemic has also left a lingering fear in many people's minds.

Indeed, some players may feel nervous or reluctant to return to the live-action gaming battlefield.
We now, as an industry, face a crisis of consumer confidence.

Armando DiRienzo is the owner of Tac Ops, a tactical laser tag, indoor Battle Arena in Fairfield NJ, USA. "Right now the biggest problem is the lingering COVID fears. While the regular public play games are generally older people and individuals who don’t typically care, birthday parties, which account for a huge portion of the business, are put together by parents who are still very much concerned about COVID and the kids being in close proximity," he said.

Dusten Gann, an Arena Installation Manager at Laser Blast concurs, "The biggest challenge is the same one we've always faced, getting the people in the door."


Inciting gamers back onto the playing field is crucial.

Getting customers booking again is key to our industry's recovery.

Laser Tag business needs to lure gamers back.

The good news is that there is plenty of anecdotal evidence that once people are on the other side of lockdowns, they are keen to get back to out-of-home entertainment. And our industry bounce-back could be quicker than anticipated.

RECRUITMENT & RETENTION

But the fast turnaround and boost in demand bring its own challenges.

Laser Tag / Live-Action Gaming faces massive recruitment and retention problems post-lockdown.

Laser Tag as a business was already seasonal before the pandemic. "At Laser Skirmish we can sell three times as many tickets in spring compared to high summer," said Nicole Lander.

"September, traditionally, is our busiest month for birthday bookings, being 9 months after Christmas/New Year's season," she said. And during Spring Break the weather is perfect.

So, one of the biggest challenges for our industry is the staffing and the ability to recruit and retain the crew through the peaks and troughs of demand.

"One of single biggest challenges for our industry is staffing. It always was a challenge. But now it is even more so. It's the uncertainty. Uncertainty of when you’re going to be open. Are you going to get another lockdown? Are you going to be operating at only 25%, or 50%?” said Nicole.

Robert Peppard is the President and Founder of Fireball Mountain, an outdoor laser tag venue in Wrightstown, New Jersey. "I would add that a major shortage of workers is causing operational issues and long-term will drive labor costs up," said Robert.

Steve Dimitrakoulas runs Battlefield LIVE Hellas, a mobile laser tag business in Athens, Greece. "Yes, the biggest challenge is hired to help," said Steve.

Jim Mainardi, runs Laser One, an indoor laser tag arena in Wantage, NJ USA. "I had a staffing shortage so I mass-emailed my entire customer base and immediately got more applicants than I needed. I hired 5 kids just 3 weeks ago," said Jim.

"Business is bouncing back, thank goodness. Still trying to hire more people - but it's better than 2 months ago, so we have progress!" said Jim.

"We're doing better than I thought we would this summer," said Jim.

That's good news.

Many operators are also bouncing back once Government lock-downs are eased.

In fact, people are keen to get out and rediscover out-of-home entertainment.

As business owners, we need to somehow find a way to deliver quality events, consistently.

Laser Tag, both indoors and outdoors, fixed and mobile, attractions are all facing the same challenge.   

Summing Up


Turbulent times require live-action gaming businesses to adapt and innovate.

Coping to the current market conditions is not just an option, it is a necessity.

While the laser tag industry faces challenges it is resilient and I believe it will bounce back.