Signs of Improvement
Vaccine Roll-Out Seems to Be Making a Positive Difference
by Adam Pratt, Arcade Galactic & ArcadeHeroes.com
Normally we would be looking forward to seeing each other in Las Vegas about now, with this issue of RePlay discussing what to expect at the show. But we all know the reason that things have been pushed back. I’ll avoid using the dreaded “P” word, as I know we’re all beyond tired of hearing it. I imagine that if a show were held right now though, most distributors would be showing off refurbished games since used stock has been the hot item lately.
My last article was a little bit of a downer as the lull in business was really starting to wear on me. But as the vaccine rollout continues, it appears to finally be making a difference in my numbers. While we’re not back to “normal” yet, we’re only down about 10-15% instead of 60-75%. That is quite a relief, although it will take some time for the bank account to “catch up.” It does seem like people are more comfortable going out once again, and since we’re still here, we can take advantage of “cabin fever relief.” Granted, I don’t know if other areas are experiencing this, but as I see how busy it is, it tells me once again that we fill an entertainment need for people.
Once the earnings are back, the next thing that would be nice to have back to normal again is being maskless. Communicating with customers while it’s been busy and all of the games blaring has been a bit of a challenge, especially for people who are naturally quiet. My voice also becomes a little hoarse after a Saturday or Sunday, given that I have to almost shout what I’m saying for most of the day. (Yes, we have turned down volumes on many games, but it’s still noisy when it’s busy.)
One thing that helped with my original location is the Maximum Tune 5 Tournament that was held from January through the middle of February. Having a game apart from Golden Tee and Big Buck Hunter where the manufacturer can do such tournaments is very welcome. It may be that people are ready to come back to compete so we can hold tournaments again.
Things are still really tough for my second location, although the party room will be open by the time you read this. We hope that will translate into some better numbers. I’m glad I held on to my old RePlays so that I could read about parties and the best practices surrounding them. We’ll also see about adapting the room to other uses (a console gaming room and/or temporary escape room) to further milk what we can out of the space.
Apart from that, one thing that’s been giving us a boost is our website. Since I opened, I’ve always had a website for the company, along with social media, but I’ve never worked on keeping it super up-to-date until recently. It seems like social media should do a better job at keeping us in people’s minds, but I still end up having more followers from out-of-state than in. On the other hand, the website really does bring in the locals. Of course, it’s difficult to scientifically figure out how many web visits translate into in-person visits, but the site has kept the phone ringing every once in a while and gotten us compliments on how it looks. It also is a good way to drive people to the social channels, which also have seen some slow growth after a long period of next-to-nothing.
To that end, and rounding back to trade shows, I think that as long as this trend continues we’ll be ready for in-person events by this summer. While all of the virtual events out there have been a decent way to do some networking, ultimately we’re an equipment-driven industry, and it’s better to meet face-to-face. I’m certainly looking forward to Amusement Expo in June and I hope to see you there!
Adam Pratt is the owner and operator of the Game Grid arcade near Salt Lake City, Utah. He also publishes the Arcade Heroes blog site and serves as an advisor for the web-based game supplier BMI Worldwide. He can be reached at [email protected].