IAAPA: How to Book More Birthday Parties at your FEC

IAAPA: How to Book More Birthday Parties at your FEC

We were at IAAPA Attractions Expo last week – were you?  

Of course, we really had fun on the floor exploring new VR rides, eating Beaver Tails and taking way too many photobooth selfies.

But we also learned a lot in the marketing sessions.

perfect game marketing team smiling at iaapa 2017

Most notably: how to sell more birthday parties.  It was a common thread throughout every marketing session, and for good reason.

Marketing for family entertainment centers revolves around birthday parties, right? Even if they’re a small percentage of revenue (we learned that birthdays should account for between 15-20% of total revenue for FECs), they drive repeat business and build awareness for casual and walk-up business too. They’re vital.  

Here are some of my favorite takeaways that will help you book more birthday parties.

  1. Make the booking process fast and easy.  Only offer 3 or 4 party packages (make sure one includes a “choice” item that gives some flexibility in customization).  Show “all parties include” as one item, then list only the differences for each package on your website. Always use photos to sell your activities and fun.  Offer Spanish or alternative languages as dictated by your market.  Consider removing a minimum if you’re pricing per child — it confuses and turns away parents who don’t meet the minimum.
  2. Consider dynamic pricing. Give party parents an incentive to book farther in advance by offering upsells or “Pay for 9, bring 10” if they book 8 weeks or more in advance.  Slowly lessen the offer as the date nears.
  3. Add an exit coupon to your birthday party pages on your website.   If someone is browsing for party package and pricing information, they’re probably pretty close to booking.  A simple pop-up before they leave your site just might push them over the edge.
  4. Empower your party hosts to upsell, and incentivize them to do so. Ask them to reach out 24 hours in advance and offer adult party platters. Create a sell sheet of party platters or party up-sells that they can give to the party mom before the party begins, “just in case she forgot.”  Try contests that reward them with Starbucks gift cards or other fun prizes for selling the most party platters or upsells.
  5. Treat the birthday child like a prince or princess. Do as Disney does and give the birthday child a sticker announcing “It’s my birthday!” then ask all of your floor employees to wish them an effusive happy birthday when they pass. Surprise and delight them throughout their entire party and you’re guaranteed a happy mom who tells her friends.  Always list your best value package first (your most profitable) and your cheapest package last.

It all comes down to creating an enjoyable and memorable experience for your guests, and selling as much before they walk in the door as possible.  Deliver value and fun, and they’ll deliver referrals, reviews and return visits.