The Bowling Proprietors Association of America (BPAA) hosted Bowl Expo this year with a big focus on Disney education in Orlando. Former President George W. Bush entertained and inspired the crowd as he presented the key note presentation, and bowling center owners from around the world gathered together to enjoy old friends and to look for new ideas to build their business.
The hot spots for the industry played out as Tom Martino steps in for Cathy DeSocio as the new president of the BPAA volunteer board. The DeSocio family has a long history in the bowling industry and Cathy’s husband Frank takes the reigns as he fills the BPAA executive director spot which has been vacant since October. Finally, the governing body of bowling, the USBC, has named Chad Murphy as its executive director. Both organizations are focused on inspiring more people to play more often in the largest participatory sport in America.
From where I sit, as the motivator of all things “party” related, I’m excited with what I saw as I roamed the show floor. So many of my vendor friends are as passionate as we are at TrainerTainment to help people make more money. I thought the attendees of the show, for the most part, had good things to say about the growth of their businesses. There is a tremendous awareness that bowling is a good anchor for entertainment and that adding attractions to that anchor makes for a better business.
Our friends at Qubica are doing clever things with bowling suites by utilizing sexy new furniture and creating private party lounges with 10-pin lanes, repurposing smaller spaces or literally going on top of existing lanes and creating a lounge with the Highway 66 small-ball product.
Creativity seems to be the key. Adding attractions like a “real game room,” laser tag, outdoor volleyball, ropes courses or a profit platform stage, combined with a good food and drink option, creates new opportunity for an existing business that may not be experiencing the successes of the past. Everyone I bumped into was talking about the possibilities.
From a fun point of view (which is what I’m always obsessed with), we put on a GREAT party with four of our vendor partners at King’s Bowl located on I-Drive. The sales gal at that location reached out to the Bowl Expo vendors sometime in March. As someone who teaches sales teams how to do outbound marketing, I was pretty excited about her effort. I reached back and let her know we wanted to book an event for about 200 people.
This is where the “goodness” of the sales process broke down. It took her a long time to get back to me. Honestly, if the location had not been such a great choice, I would have made a different decision. Once they did get back to me, it was by email only. We had called and left phone messages, indicating that we would like to talk with a human. There was NO qualification about what our needs were and quite frankly if I wasn’t a party queen to begin with, I would have been totally lost in this process.
We finally got all the details put together, by email only (imagine me shaking my head here). The great news is that they rocked us with the delivery of the event. Although I had little faith in what might happen due to the rocky sales process, I was pleasantly surprised with the actual event –– enough so that we will do it again for IAAPA in November. I did communicate with the sales team about how unhappy I was with the sales process, so I’m expecting that to all be smoother next time.
When you are putting on events, EVERYTHING MATTERS. I was the customer this time around, and I understand that I might be more critical of the sales process than most. Nonetheless, we were won over this time with the operations. I always think that the sales team does most of the selling; the truth is every part of every party either sells your guests on the next event or not. Thank goodness operations bailed the sales team out this time.
They also did a great job of capturing pictures and then posting them to the Internet, handing us cards that told us know where to find the images on Facebook. So of course, we found their album and shared it on our own Facebook timeline. Our party partners from Creative Works, Party Center Software, Redemption Plus, and Bowling Music Network did the same. What great social exposure for everyone involved. I thought that was one of the best ideas I saw when I was in Orlando. Here’s the link if you would like to re-live the fun: https://www.facebook.com/KingsBowlOrlando?fref=photo
Bowl Expo is one of my favorite events of the year. I love catching up with old friends and making new ones, and this event affords us that opportunity every year. If you’ve never been, you might mark your calendar for next year. We’ll be back in Las Vegas and of course that’s one of my favorite party spots in the country.
Beth Standlee is the CSO and founder of Trainertainment, a sales training company dedicated to great guest service, party development, and ultimately bringing more money to your bottom line. Beth can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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