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FECs, cashless technology, and the ‘new normal’

As the attraction industry recovers, integrated business solutions help operators bounce back

The summer holidays are here and, following a challenging 18 months, families are keen to enjoy indoor entertainment once more. After weathering lockdowns and extra restrictions, there is much pent-up demand for entertainment. People want to spend quality time together again and make new memories.

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However, it is not back to business-as-usual for operators. Those who take the time to invest in new technology and rebuild trust with guests will find that they can thrive. Meanwhile, others who stick to old models and manual processes may struggle in the ‘new normal.’

Blooloop takes a look at three of Embed’s successful customers to find out how they have integrated new cashless business solutions, and how they are now looking forward to a bright future.

Laser Bounce, New York

Laser Bounce is an FEC that began in Long Island, New York in 2010. In 2018, the business expanded to a second location in Queens, New York. Both locations offer a wide range of fun activities to cater for the whole family. This includes arcade games, laser tag, bowling, a Bounce Arena, Hologate VR, a Ballocity arena, Mission: Impossible, and lots more.

Laser Bounce cashless business solutions

It is a family-owned and operated business that aims to bring together “mom-and-pop” hospitality with corporate amenities for a quality guest experience. However, it soon faced the challenge of keeping this traditional approach while simultaneously modernising it for a more streamlined experience and a more efficient operation.

In particular, it needed a cashless business solution. This is something that guests increasingly expect when visiting attractions – even more so in the wake of COVID-19. Going cashless means contactless transactions, keeping visitors safe and reducing friction from the experience.  

Reducing costs and increasing satisfaction

From an operator point of view, cashless business solutions also save money, as Ryan D’Amico, Co-Owner and General Manager, explains:

“Implementing the Embed system brought several benefits. Cost-savings from not purchasing tickets and tokens, labour-savings from not counting them (no paper dust and coin jams requiring service and repair), the ease of use, and increase in guest satisfaction – it’s a crucial part of our business.”

Laser Bounce chose to work with Embed to implement new hardware and software solutions. This includes self-service kiosks, arcade debit game card readers, game cards and RFID wearables, and point of sale (POS) machines. D’Amico also opted for the prize redemption system and central games management software, which connects games across multiple FECs. The hardware is integrated with the company’s business software.

Self-service solutions

Through the self-service kiosk, guests can easily and quickly register, purchase new cards, and reload existing cards. Or, with the award-winning Mobile Wallet, guests don’t even have to leave the game.

This unique virtual game card sits in their Apple Wallet and/or Google Pay wallets on their mobile devices, allowing them fast access to their balance information, ticket counts, and more. So, they can simply top up game cards directly from their phone, anytime, anywhere.

Mobile Wallet Embed eGame Card benefits of cashless technology cashless business solution

“We like to be the leader in introducing innovations and, especially with COVID, getting the Mobile Wallet was a no-brainer,” says D’Amico. “Having the Mobile Wallet was not only great for our reopening, but it’s nice for customers to see we’re at the top of our game with arcade technology.”

Meanwhile, employees don’t have to spend time emptying machines and counting coins. Bringing in this contactless business solution meant that the business could leave behind time-consuming and costly manual processes. As a result, staff can spend more time on the floor interacting with customers for the traditional welcoming feel that Laser Bounce strives for, instead of being tied up with cumbersome operations.

The feedback from guests has been positive too, as they can simply tap and play without scrabbling for cash.

A streamlined experience that drives revenue

“Our kiosks are great revenue earners. And they’re definitely a lot less of a headache than a staff member,” says D’Amico. “Our kiosks are set up to sell attractions, like laser tag, and for card value sales – which is what 99% of our guests use the kiosk to purchase.”

Contactless-Transactions-embed cashless business solution

In addition, the solution helps the operator to offer promotions and incentives, such as its All-Access Game Play and Unlimited Game Play, which also come with bonus credits and a bonus structure. Again, these help drive revenue, says D’Amico:

“We’ve seen an increase in value that the customer is purchasing. Because they’re less reluctant to spend a little more to get the bonus.”

Langer’s Entertainment

Langer’s Entertainment is an FEC in Sherwood, Oregon with a family connection to the city that dates back to 1879. Today, it provides many fun activities such as a range of arcade games, alongside laser tag, a bowling alley, and a rock wall. Langer’s is also home to a restaurant and bar, and hosts parties and corporate events.

When the family decided to open an entertainment centre more than ten years ago, it created a building that celebrates Oregon’s history and culture. While the building celebrates traditional Oregon roots, it was also important for the venue to modernise its operations for today’s guests.

Langers Entertainment

Previously, Langer’s Entertainment was using manual processes and was not operating efficiently. It was also juggling different vendors. In short, it needed a complete, integrated system.

“When we first opened our location, we had two POS providers, and we had some issues with consistent reporting across both systems,” says Ryan Barajas, Marketing Manager. “We knew we could streamline our system and put our entire facility under Embed, and it’s been great.”

After partnering with Embed, the FEC now uses the company’s kiosks, arcade debit game card readers, game cards and point of sale (POS) machines, as well as its prize (PRIZES) redemption system. In addition, Langer’s Entertainment now benefits from an integrated, cashless business software solution, for easy business visibility, tracking, and reporting.

Cashless business solutions for real-time visibility

Thanks to this platform, the FEC has a sole solutions provider connecting all of its business touchpoints. This includes games management, real-time prize inventory, guest party planning, POS, and bookings.

“Embed’s TOOLKIT software is our best asset for customer service,” says Barajas. “Being able to look up someone’s card history to see what games they’ve played and resolve any issues is super important. Everything is laid out right there.”

Mobile Wallet Toolkit Embed benefits of cashless technology cashless business solution

The venue is able to use real, actionable data to determine the right promotions and when to run them for the best result. For instance, with its Happy Hour promotion, it leverages Embed’s time-variable pricing functionality. This allows an increase in traffic during slow periods. It then offsets the discount during busier times, in order to maximise revenue. 

Making bookings easy

Change your Game with the Mobile Wallet cashless business solution

Langer’s Entertainment can also sell game bundles and upsell packages, leading to increased revenues. Plus, with Embed’s BOOKINGS software, guests can even buy packages, reserve bowling lanes, and book birthday parties online, from the comfort of home.

BOOKINGS is a modern online reservation system, ideal for the post-COVID era. It allows visitors to browse and book events on their own devices anytime, anywhere. The cloud-based system can access bookings and pre-payments 24/7. It also speeds up check-in on the day with a simple barcode scan. It can handle small and large groups and integrates seamlessly with Embed’s sales and reports solutions.

Within the venue, the self-service kiosks make the experience stress-free for guests. All the venue’s attractions now use Embed’s kiosk and smartTOUCH readers, so visitors can tap and go.

Like Laser Bounce, Langer’s Entertainment also opted to offer the Mobile Wallet, making the experience even easier for visitors. The operator can also use the Mobile Wallet to encourage repeat visits and improve customer loyalty with special offers to enhance the guest experience.

“Whenever you’re running a business, you want to make it easier for your guests to spend money,” says Barajas. “Embed’s kiosks are key to helping sell our entire building – game cards and attractions – while lowering labour costs and providing a better guest experience.”

FunZone, Pizza Ranch

Pizza Ranch first began in Hull, Iowa in 1981, serving an all-day pizza buffet as well as a salad bar, crispy chicken, and desserts. In 2010, a franchise owner based in Sioux Falls decided to offer some extra entertainment for customers, as well as an extra revenue stream and added an arcade to their location.

This first venue, FunZone, proved successful, leading to more franchisees opting to add a FunZone arcade in 2016.

Pizza Ranch

Following this move, the company faced a new challenge. Having entered the competitive world of FECs, how could it stay ahead of the curve? To bring in additional revenue and distinguish itself from other businesses, Pizza Ranch opted to provide opportunities to play the most up-to-date games, as well as offering quality prizes through its redemption centre.

However, as Mark Souba, Chief Development Officer, explains, it was key to choose a sole integrated business solutions provider while creating the FunZone brand’s infrastructure. This is why it partnered with Embed for all of the franchises, for a universal experience across all locations.

“We now have a complete structure around the FunZone business. So we’re poised for growth and supportability for our franchisees,” says Souba.

A consistent experience

While this solution means that, at a franchise level, guests can enjoy the same high level of service at each venue, Pizza Ranch also benefits at a corporate level. Here, it can utilise Embed’s API to create a data warehouse and design custom reports for each location.

Being able to demonstrate the success of the FunZone business has helped encourage more franchisees to branch out, offering more new experiences to customers and bringing more people through the doors.

“Pizza Ranch is poised to add 10-15 new FunZone locations this year, and 20-25 over the next 24 months,” says Souba. “We’re always looking at trends to find the right new games and prize products to include. Like virtual reality and golf simulators.”

Upselling made simple with cashless business solutions

Pizza Ranch uses Embed’s integrated business solution of cashless arcade debit card readers, self-service kiosks, and prize redemption systems for its 35 FunZone locations. This means there is a standard operating procedure across every venue.

A key part of this solution is the Power Charge option on Embed’s kiosk, says Souba:

“The kiosk is, by far, the most valuable tool in the FunZone arcade,” said Souba. “It’s very durable and has a good guest interface.”

SmartTOUCH reader by Embed cashless business solution

Since bringing it in, around 80-90% of all transactions now go through the kiosk instead of the POS. “We offer five core products, with three Power Charge options on the $10, $20, and $50 option. The Power Charge drives the average check by 82 cents per transaction. And 44% of the time, we see guests take the Power Charge option.”

The company found that 42% of these guests will Power Charge the $10 amount, while 56% will Power Charge $50. Hence why offering the Power Charge option on the kiosk is a vital part of increasing the bottom line.

Staying ahead of the curve

FECs are always striving to beat the competition by offering the latest games and all-new experiences. However, it’s not enough to just update the entertainment – the guest experience also needs to move with the times.

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As these three FEC operators have found, moving to an integrated cashless solution does not just benefit the business. It also keeps guests happy, safe, and coming back for more. The pandemic has accelerated many emerging trends. Now, cashless, contactless solutions have transitioned from a ‘nice-to-have’ to a ‘must-have’ in adapting to the new normal.

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charlotte coates

Charlotte Coates

Charlotte Coates is blooloop's editor. She is from Brighton, UK and previously worked as a librarian. She has a strong interest in arts, culture and information and graduated from the University of Sussex with a degree in English Literature. Charlotte can usually be found either with her head in a book or planning her next travel adventure.

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