Recurring Group Events
Follow Bowling’s Lead With Leagues and Tournaments of Your Own
By Beth Standlee, CEO, TrainerTainment
As we get ready to go to Bowl Expo this month, I’m reminded of some of the things the bowling world does so well. While traditional bowling has declined some over the last 20 years, their knowledge of how to get people to return to the center over and over again is an important bunch of information to know!
League and tournament play happen to be amazing products. As far as parties go, when you’re able to get a group or organization to commit to having their event several weeks in a row, once a month, or even four times a year, then you’ve created a tremendous stream of revenue. Bowling had it right when they created leagues. It’s a simple formula. A group of people come together and create teams of two, three, four or five, and promise to come bowling on the same night at the same time on the same lanes, AND they guarantee to pay even if they don’t show up! Now that’s a party or a GREAT recurring group event.
You don’t just have to have bowling in order to create league or tournament play. Any activity in your center that requires some type of skill can be turned into a tournament or recurring event. I would like you to think about creating leagues by answering the following questions:
1. How could I get people to come into my center and compete on a regular basis so they can get better at this attraction and be in position to WIN something?
2. What attractions do I have that people could be motivated to compete on with one another? It may be laser tag, mini golf, small ball bowling, a golf simulator, or weekly arcade game contests. Involve your staff, too. They can be very creative when it comes to making the most of the activities in your center.
3. How many weeks in a row can I keep people interested? Remember when it comes to leagues, you’re trying to get people to come in on a weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly basis. You’re already competing with their everyday life that moves at a pace of 100 miles per hour. Initially, shorter might be better. Leagues require commitment, attention and available time. Keep it simple and make it easy for the guest to say yes!
A good rule of thumb is if you have four teams, plan a four- to eight-week event. This gives everyone to opportunity to compete with each team at least one time (and two times is even better).
4. When a company comes to talk to me about an event, am I asking them if this is a one-time group party or if it’s something they’d like to do on a regular basis? Many times, I’ve seen a company go ahead and pay up front for an eight-week session of bowling for their staff or book their next quarterly outing. Always keep the possibility open that they’re going to LOVE your facility and will be motivated to bring their office personnel often!
Let’s move on to tournaments, which are a fantastic way to hold a live (and huge) public event. Coordinating with a charitable organization can really help spread the word and create participation. Turn this type of event into a fundraiser for your favorite local non-profit and watch your own profits soar as the community becomes more engaged, involved, and aware of all that you have to offer.
Here’s an example of what I’m talking about. Let’s say you have mini-golf (indoor or outdoor; nine holes or 36 or more). Join forces with Make a Wish, a wonderful organization that helps children who have terminal cancer. Contact the Make a Wish executive director and let him know that you would like to have a fundraiser with their organization. Your idea is to create a golf scramble and have companies, groups, and individuals enter teams for a two- to three-week period. During that time, those teams could come out and qualify between 5 and 9 p.m. It costs $XXX for the teams to participate. You decide how much of the entry fee you want to donate to Make a Wish. (I recommend 50%.)
Each team’s score should be posted on your Facebook page with a picture of the team (if they allow), and have a standings board that will be posted live in the center for the tournament period. Each week, you have teams that will qualify to participate in the grand finals event to be held at the end of the qualification period. An easy way to decide how teams qualify is to award the top score for every three teams that participate as winning a spot for the finals. This way, one in three teams qualify to participate in the BIG event. (Allow teams to re-enter as often as possible.)
After the qualification weeks, during which time you will continue to build upon the excitment, you’ll hold the Grand Finals, an amazing event that should create a lot of good PR and overall excitement for your facility.
This is a GREAT group event for your center, as well as for your “Make a Wish” partner. (Keep in mind that the charitable organization you partner with will have many connections, which will help you market to a group of people you probably didn’t know nor did they know you.)
In closing, creating recurring revenue with league play and holding great tournament-style group events are two fantastic ways to build revenue and increase your loyal customer base!
Beth is the CEO of TrainerTainment LLC, a training company devoted to the family entertainment and hospitality industries. Beth and her team are focused on helping the companies they serve make more money through sales, guest service, leadership and social media marketing training. Training products and services are delivered in person, through books and DVDs, and virtually with e-learning courses, webinar development and 24/7 online access. Visit her company’s website at www.trainertainment.com.