Having been in the family entertainment business for over thirty years and operating a Family Entertainment Center (FEC) for the past fifteen, I can tell you that keeping the mix of attractions your facility offers fresh and exciting is paramount. The public demands and expects new and challenging experiences when they visit their local entertainment venues. Keeping the balance between those activities that appeal primarily to teens and those that are attractive to a larger demographic is also vital. You must also consider whether the activity will be supported largely by your male customers or will it draw a larger female audience. All the while, the primary objective of adding any new attraction, game or venue has to be kept in mind…HOW MUCH MONEY WILL IT MAKE ME?
Several years ago, while contemplating what more we could offer our customers, I began looking around our facility for space that wasn’t providing much of a return on its investment in terms of space it was occupying. I quickly identified an extra birthday party room that was rarely used. It occupied approximately 180 square feet and was located immediately adjacent to our arcade.
After attending trade shows and searching for just the right “thing” to put in this underutilized space, I finally decided a laser maze would be a good fit. I consider that decision to be one of the best I’ve made. After nearly three years of operating “The Vault Assualt” laser maze by Lazer Mazers I am continuously amazed at how well it fills voids in our attraction mix that I didn’t even know we had. Here are just some of the benefits and observations I’ve made:
- A Lazer Mazers’ laser maze is surprisingly inexpensive to purchase. In our case, since we already had the room and only had to add one wall and a door, the remodel expense was practically nil. Our total investment was well under $30,000.
- The laser maze footprint is very small. Occupying an area not much bigger than a large storage closet (our is 9’ x 20’) the Lazer Mazers’ system doesn’t require a large commitment in terms of real estate. Taking up about the same space that three or four video games would have occupied we, instead, have a major attraction.
- The ROI is incredible. Instead of taking years to pay off, even a small entertainment center with relatively low attendance can expect to earn back their investment in a matter of months. Because Lazer Mazers’ pricing strategy is extremely competitive and due to the highly addictive nature of laser mazes in general, we had our entire investment back in less than one season.
- Laser mazes appeal to a broad demographic. Unlike our go carts, rock wall and laser tag which target primarily teenage males, our laser maze venue is popular with both sexes and customers from the ages 4 to 40 line up to participate.
- Girls and women dominate the game. At the risk of coming across as sexist, females are just better “built” to navigate the intricate web of lasers. Girls are generally smaller, more flexible, and seem to be able to think better “three dimensionally” than their male counterparts. After being run off the road on our go carts, “out gunned” in our laser tag arena and out climbed on our rock wall the ladies finally get even by humiliating their brothers, dates, dads and husbands at the laser maze. As you know, guy’s egos can’t take defeat well so they frequently buy two or three more tickets just to try and outscore the girls!
- The ticket price and throughput makes a laser maze a huge hit. At our park where mini golf runs seven bucks, a five minute go cart ride is six dollars and a four minute flight simulator costs $5, the four dollar laser maze ticket seems like a bargain. Again, the psychology of entertainment value amazes me. Occasionally I’ll have a parent complain about paying $6 for a five minute go cart ride. That same parent will lay down $4, watch their child blitz through our Lazer Mazers’ laser maze in under a minute and a half, come right back and buy another laser maze ticket and then encourage their son or daughter to go even faster! Although the laser maze ticket is the least expensive ticket we offer, when considering the amount of time it takes to play, the laser maze is our highest earner.
I would encourage anyone thinking about adding a new attraction to their FEC, bowling alley, skating rink, bar, waterpark or whatever to seriously consider a laser maze. The “Cool Factor” is off the charts…lasers intrigue and attracts everyone’s attention. The initial and ongoing capital outlay is minimal. The appeal is broad and the earning capacity is phenomenal! For the dollar amount invested and the space required I can’t think of a better way to entertain your guests.