We recently went to a large, well-known FEC in the Los Angeles area to celebrate my niece Lily’s 8th birthday. Lily didn’t want a princess party… she wanted go-karts. Love that kid.
The facility is huge and literally has something for everyone, and I mean EVERYONE. It’s got batting cages, mini-golf, bumper boats, two speeds of go-karts (for little and big kids) and a ginormous game room with all the latest and greatest. Exactly the kind of place my family likes to hang. It was first class all the way…until we got to the redemption counter.
First of all, it was a small, ordinary prize counter, not a “store” like some of the redemption experts in this magazine tout. (“Remember, you’re in the retail business” is a common mantra these days.) It had one employee on a busy Saturday afternoon and her attitude was definitely not, “I love my job!”
There was no definitive line to speak of so there was a bunch of confusion among the kids as to who was “next.” She would help a few customers at the same time which led to my little one worrying he wouldn’t get “all the stuff he deserved” because she would forget how much he already spent. Adults were cutting in front of kids and it was just generally the opposite of fun.
That was a shame, because the rest of the afternoon was fantastic. All the other employees were super helpful and kind. When a certain “big fish game” ate my son’s credits, someone was right there to reissue them, no questions asked. The wait staff at the party was courteous and responsive. So why did it all fall apart at the redemption counter?
Picking out the prizes is usually the highlight of any kid’s trip to an FEC and it comes at the very end of the experience. It’s what you remember when you leave. In this case, we weren’t left thinking about all the fun we had playing the games and collecting the tickets. Instead, our thoughts were focused on the disappointing experience we had picking out merchandise. LAST impressions are sometimes the MOST important. Not the rubber snake that comes with it.
– Ingrid Adlum Milkes