Business magazine «Invest-Foresight»
How to make an amusement park popular?
How did the business start?
The first project was the entertainment complex Maza Park near the metro station «Bucharest», then FUN24 was opened in Kazan (2014), and then — Galaxy Park in Smolensk (2015) and the second Maza Park in St. Petersburg (2015). At the beginning of our work, the management team faced many challenges, connected with attracting visitors. As a result of a work, we managed to overcome all the difficulties and develop a strategy that led us to success. The entertainment centers used the All Inclusive system, and introduced other innovations, allowing visitors to feel more comfortable in the park.
Who is our target audience?
The company is guided by the needs of modern young people, who want to express themselves and feel free, spending time with friends and family. It cannot be said that this is the only audience we have. We observe mixed audience in our parks — schoolchildren, students, young specialists, families. At the same time, we divide guest streams — each kind of audience comes in its due time. For example, schoolchildren come on weekdays, families — on weekends, students and young professionals — in the evening and at night.
Why do people choose us, but not other entertainment centers?
To attract Guests, we developed a pyramid of entertainment center product.
- The first level — attractions and the entertainment center itself. We have an amount of widely-presented entertainments: autodrome, bowling, billiards, laser tag, rollerdrome, shooting range, darts, etc.
- The second level — additional offers: restaurants, bars, karaoke, photobooks.
- The third level — the «all inclusive» concept: our unique trade offer. Having bought a ticket, the Guest gets access to all the attractions in our park without any time limits. This gives freedom to people.
- The fourth one is the atmosphere that forms the added value. We have lots of Guests, people relax, communicate, feel happy. Guests come for concept firstly, and come back for mood. Our task is to make it clear that we create pleasant emotions.
What difficulties awaited us at the beginning
Before opening the Maza Park Center, we launched the «Testing in People» campaign. We checked the readiness of the service provision and continued to conduct an active advertising campaign of the park. According to the terms, it was necessary to make a repost of advertising messages in order to get a ticket for our establishment during the days of testing.
The action got a viral coverage and attracted a lot of Guests: we were visited by more than 20 thousand people for 4 weekdays. Unfortunately, we were not ready for such an influx of visitors, not all of the equipment withstood the increased load. We made some conclusions and, while opening entertainment centers later on, changed the system of invitation and the number of colleagues, working with Guests.
Advertising life hacks for owners of entertainment business
It may be useful to cooperate with various coupon sites. It is an opportunity to purchase tickets with a tangible discount the Guest, and to increase attendance in low season — for us. Coupons are relevant for companies that are just entering the market. They usually do not have their own audience yet, and coupon sites help attract people and make pre-sales. For example, opening Maza Park, we began selling tickets using coupons a month before the opening. Thus we got hundreds of thousand rubles even before the center officially started its work.
How to retain staff and conduct non-boring instruction?
The main backbone of our EC’s line employees is young people and students, the category that perceives work as a temporary part-time job. A well-developed corporate culture that transmits values, close to young people — vivid impressions, original approach, friendship, team and freedom, helps us to retain such personnel. We are loyal to the ways of self-expression that are characteristic of young people. For example, you can meet employees with tattoos or piercings in our centers. Emotions cannot be hidden, and in case a person is forced to cover tattoos at work and feel suppressed, he will retransmit it to Guests in his turn. And any sincere service is out of the question then.
Some internal documents are published in the form of infographics and comics. A couple of years ago, we transferred some of the job descriptions that no one has ever read, into comics. And it worked out! When you give a person 2–3 sheets of boring text with instructions, very few people read them up to the end. And if you present the material as comics — information is perceived easily.
How did the idea to introduce the All-inclusive system in our entertainment centers come?
The system is not new, it is widely used in outdoor amusement parks and water parks. You pay once for the entrance and get a full range of services. We were inspired by the idea and decided to implement it in our entertainment centers. The system is based on elementary thing — greed. When the Guest realizes that he has to pay just once to get everything, he will definitely pay. And having occurred in the park, a person will try to justify the money spent as much as possible — try out all available attractions. As a result, he will spend more time in the center and order drinks and food, which may not be included into the ticket price. In addition, the Guest gets an opportunity to get acquainted with all kinds of entertainment, which means that the overall level of satisfaction grows, which affects the positive image of the park as a whole.
The way we introduced All Inclusive for the first time
We tried this principle of work in the summer of 2010 in the entertainment complex «Leader» for the first time. The summer time was obviously low season for us that time, and the price of the ticket was 200 rubles. We counted the number of people who visited us, and the income. We realized that people spent about 100 rubles for attractions on average. This was due to the fact that many visitors of the park did not buy anything at all, but just came to spend time.
At that time the billiard hour cost about 200 rubles, and the price of an hour of bowling reached 800 rubles. We wanted to make price available, so we started with the cost of entrance ticket of 200 rubles on weekdays. As a result, we got revenues of 80–150 thousand rubles in daytime, instead of 30–60 thousand per day at low season. A lot, but not enough for the scale of a large center, so we began to look for additional opportunities. We came to decision to adjust ticket price, depending on the time of day and the day of week. Within a few weeks, we reached an income of several hundred thousand rubles on weekdays, and our records reached as much as a million. This was a real breakthrough.
Ultra All Inclusive System
We introduced Ultra All Inclusive System over some time. These tickets are more expensive, but they include both drinks and food. This format became especially popular in Kazan. We managed to raise the attendance at the expense of such tickets for several times.
Now the Ultra All Inclusive menu in Kazan is very diverse and, perhaps, even better than many Swedish tables. It’s a fast, simple and delicious menu — including not only fast food, but the meals for every taste. At the same time, we left high serving for speed and quality of service. We have good cookers and bartenders — there are almost no queues even on the busiest day.
What kind of audience is especially interested in All-inclusive format?
The backbone of our audience is the youth and the factor of freedom is important for them. Just imagine a student who wants to invite a girlfriend to a date, but has only 1000 rubles in his pocket. He worries if he has enough money to spend time with his mate and doesn’t feel constrained at all. A young man invites a girl to an amusement park and buys tickets for a fixed price. So they can rest without any hassle — no one is asking for extra money. Thus, it’s another happy customer for us and freedom of action and self-confidence — for him.
Some words about the negative experience of All Inclusive canceling
We tried to cancel All Inclusive in Smolensk Galaxy Park. So, our incomes decreased and the guests became dissatisfied. Visitors of the parks, who had already taken advantage of the All-inclusive service, were not ready for another system and protested strongly.
Now I can confidently say that permissiveness, even controlled one, becomes a habit quickly. As a result, the management team decided not to hurt the Guests and returned the all-inclusive system, and received a deal of thanks due to this fact.
Budget for entertainment complex opening
The cost of building project and equipping of the entertainment center is 35–50 thousand rubles for one square meter on average. The territory of our centers is from 7.5 to 20 thousand square meters. Few people have their own funds in such a volume — one center costs 200–400 million rubles (depending on the area of the object). Some part of money is invested from personal savings, the rest — by attracting partners, groups of investors, banks and funds.
What is the payback of such projects?
During my work in the entertainment market (it’s over 15 years), the payback period varied from 3 to 10 years. The payback and profitability of our enterprises depends not only on the business model and operational management. It’s affected by such factors as the overall economic situation, the average income of the population, lending rates in banks, the region, the location of the object, the rental rate. The dynamics of the payback increase period is persisting during last three years.
Is it worth for young businessmen to take this industry into consideration?
Construction of amusement parks is not so attractive for financial institutions and investors
I suppose that newcomers will have to face some difficulties. On the one hand it’s because of the high entry threshold, and because of the cloudy prospects of payback, on the other hand. Nowadays young people are investing in crypto currency, which gives 100 or more percent return per month.
What difficulties are expected for the newcomers in the entertainment industry?
We have formed an extensive knowledge base in the entertainment industry for 15 years of our work, so we can confidently state — there are a lot of pitfalls in it. For example:
- Regional features. Friday is on the second place for attendance and incomes in St. Petersburg, but in Kazan — on the fourth. It is not customary to have fun on Fridays in public places in Tatarstan.
- Depreciation of equipment. We deal with the «all inclusive» system, i.e. the Guest gets access to all the attractions, when buying a ticket. The equipment wears out quickly in such a format, so we pay attention to the reliability of the equipment. We choose the tested brands with the maximum service life. Everything is directed at not scaring visitors away by non-working attractions.
- Dynamics of changes. The survivor is not the strongest, but that one who is sensitive to the transformation of the market. For example, 10 years ago billiards was almost the main kind of leisure in centers, but now it’s not even among the top three leaders. VR, console games and many other things are at the top.
- Consumption basket. Initially, we planned to become a substitute for «leisure from the frat house» so that young people could abandon unsightly places and come to us for entertainment and hot drinks. Previously, alcohol consumption was significantly higher than at the moment in our institutions.
Now the demand is completely different. Craft alcohol, cocktails, non-standard service are in fashion. According to our marketing research, people order alcohol not to get drunk, but to join the culture of alcohol consumption nowadays. So, we had to restructure a little bit.
Why is it more difficult for small businesses to solve some problems?
Small companies aren’t able to send an employee to a large city or abroad to let him notice and record some actual trends that soon will appear in the market.
For example, we borrowed the way the Chinese install basketball rings. Initially, this attraction captivated us for its vandal-resistance. It is iron and almost does not break, so it is durable. It’s just what you need under the «All inclusive» system.
We bought several of such attractions, put one or two of them in different places of our park. People did not play. We did not understand why, until we went to the entertainment center in China, where there were 20 basketball baskets, standing in a row, with crowds of the Chinese people around them. It was insight!
It turned out that it’s not because of the popularity of basketball, but if the attraction is represented wide-broad, the effect of attraction begins to works. When all the baskets are set in a row, you can arrange a competition in throwing the balls faster. In addition, it attracts people’s attention by its interactivity and noise. After we put these baskets in a row of 10–20 pieces, they became popular. The problem of small business is that it is necessary to get information from larger competitors. All these things are connected with time delays. In other words, a trend may lose its actuality, while a novelty is being run.
Barriers, occurring at the launching of new entertainment complexes
The main indicator of the development pace for our company is the opportunity to open new centers in other cities. We cannot realize the project in Moscow for a long time, so as we have not found a suitable place yet.
The lack of faith in success of the project and its operational realization is also a significant barrier. When we launched the center in Kazan, we faced people’s disbelief in us, as well as in fact that we could quickly run an amusement park.
We had to leave forcibly some of our contractors, because they did not want to keep within our deadline (we talked about six months, not a day later). The entertainment center FUN24 was the best proof of that there’s nothing impossible if one really wants. It was opened exactly on schedule, minute by minute.
The secret of success
The efficiency of any labor depends on personal motivation and interest. Having listened to yourself and realized the things you like to do, you will be more effective in your business. Personal interest is very helpful! A person with eyes, burning with interest, can be seen at once.
It was always important for me to spend time on the things I liked. At first, it was billiards, then in 2002–2003 — bowling. In the early 2000s, I visited «Neptune» club several times a week just to play. The culture of gaming was beginning to improve that time, bowling rooms were not enough and this pleasure wasn’t cheap. I was inspired by this direction, and a year later the bowling room was opened in our entertainment center «Leader».
As for the development of our entertainment centers, the secret of their popularity is simple. Any institution has its various options of working, but when you provide a service, your Client perceives as affordable and valuable, at the same time, he will chose it exactly.