Jersey Jack – March 2024


Making Memorable Experiences

by Jack Guarnieri, Jersey Jack Pinball &

Have you heard the term “revenge travel”? This travel is to sort of “get even” with the restrictions imposed on us because of Covid. Most of us could not travel, whether that was to the other side of the world or just a short trip across town. During that time, the smallest freedom was something we did not have. It seems like that was such a long time ago.

I’m sure there must have been “revenge dining,” “revenge shopping” and so on, but it’s the travel part that intrigues me more. When it comes to traveling, it’s not just the effort to get from point A to B, but it’s the experience we’re chasing.

Everywhere I’ve traveled to in the past year has been packed with people. Airport lounges were always full and the TSA PreCheck and Clear lines had many more people in the queue. (Of course, the airlines have figured out how to have fewer seats and full planes with higher prices.) Hotels now book up months in advance when years ago, I could make a reservation only a week or two before arrival. Rental cars are scarce in some cities and the wait for an Uber driver in many places is longer than what it was a few years ago.

I’m really not complaining. It’s a lot better than seeing everything empty!

Years ago, my assumption was most of the passengers on cruise ships were retirees. Not so today. Now, cruise ships are floating amusement parks dedicated to young families and groups of every generation. You feel special when you’re on a ship like that. It makes the statement that you’re not on the usual vacation, but you are making memories – creating an experience rather than just buying stuff. (You may be happy to pay more for that as well.)

For me and perhaps many others, that feeling is akin to the wonder felt at the great theme parks. They’re not a destination selling bottled water for $10 (though that’s about what a bottle goes for today), but are places you go with friends and family to build memories and spend time together – to be “present” with each other. (Excluding, of course, the moments that are captured and posted on social media to show others how great a time you are having.)

And don’t forget the wonderful and hard-to-get-into expensive, themed restaurants. You can’t miss them. The food will be fine but you’re not really there for the food. You’re there for the experience, including the decor, theme and, perhaps, the characters posing in pictures with you. The smiles and look of wonder on the children’s faces are priceless…timeless moments captured to remember. So, at the end of the day, spending $10 for a bottle of water or $70 for a $14 bottle of wine – or whatever – doesn’t really matter. You’re not going to let money get in the way of creating an experience to remember. After all, you don’t do this every day.

Where does the industry come into this conversation? Simple: You can be the provider of a unique experience for your customers, too. Everything is what you make it. In today’s market, if you make it a fun experience for your customer, you may do better. The quote by Jacques Torres, “Life is short. Eat dessert first,” could be relatable to the “revenge” phenomenon. Older generations typically saved up before buying something and sometimes, they waited for a day that never came. Perhaps, in moderation, you can have your cake and eat it too.

The entire buying process should be a fun experience, an adventure of sorts. Take all the stress of the purchase out of the equation, something a visit to a typical car dealership lacks when you feel like you have to be ready to do battle. Think how Carvana made that experience fun by selling new cars from a giant vending machine! I’ve suggested it before but take a fresh look at every aspect of your business just as a prospective customer would. How can you make it a better, more memorable experience?

For over 20 years, I sold games to people for their homes, and it was never just about a thing – the game. It was always about creating an experience for them to remember. That’s why we almost never got anything traded back. The game was a present for a birthday or holiday, Grandma bought it as a gift, or it was long-gone Uncle Joe’s favorite game. Those games became part of the fabric of the family. It was not just “stuff” to sell.

There’s a big world out there with so much to see and do. Revenge or not, go out and see it, travel for the fun of it and have a great experience. Make some memories and maybe I’ll see you somewhere out there.


Jack Guarnieri started servicing electromechanical pinball machines in 1975 and has been involved in every phase of the amusement game business since then. He was an operator in NYC, then began a distributorship in 1999,, selling coin-op to the consumer market. In January of 2011, he founded Jersey Jack Pinball (named after his RePlay Magazine pen name), which builds award-winning, full-featured, coin-op pinball machines. Email Jack at [email protected].


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