Party Professor – August 2016


Party Cards!

That’s What We Called Them in the Early Days of Debit Card Systems


Beth Standlee

By Beth Standlee, CEO, TrainerTainment

I  don’t know if people remember or even know that my entry into the family entertainment world has deep roots in debit card systems. I worked onsite with an early adaptor location in the mid to late ’90s. It was a time where you had to explain why you needed to use a card to play games rather than a token. Children were easy. They got it instantly and it was great fun to have your own “card”!

I remember thinking what a wonderful marketing tool this card was. It was as if our guest had a “walking billboard” that tucked nicely into their pocket or purse! Today as we move closer to 2020 than to the turn of the century, it makes sense to take a good look at how owners are benefiting with technology.

1. Card systems stock an operational  tool box with great proactive sales aids such as the ability for a locations’ sales team to target church youth groups, large businesses, schools and more, and for group sales by designing promotional packages using the card to specifically target a client.
One of the best campaigns I experienced was “senior” day. The FEC donated a $5.00 card to every senior at the high school closest to the center. The card was only good during “senior week.” High school seniors came to the center all week during daytime hours, and didn’t just spend the $5.00 promotional money that was on the card. Those “seed dollars” were doubled and tripled in the game room, and the location earned thousands of dollars during the week on other attractions, as well as food and beverage. When you look at marketing costs, it is difficult to understand ROI on a particular campaign. When you utilize a card system that provides trackable data, you can prove whether or not the dollars and efforts of a campaign have paid off. There is no marketer in the world who would turn away a $5.00 investment in customer acquisition!

2. Physical cards can be exchanged with neighboring businesses for use in cross promotions, such as restaurants, hotels, theaters, etc. I’ve worked with locations to develop a promotional campaign where we meet with all of the business owners within a one mile radius of the FEC. We found out how many employees they had and provided them with a card that gave them benefits as a VIP member. Depending on the card system you use, those benefits can show up as daily “entitlements” to attractions, discounts on food or attractions, free games or games at a discount during the week. The systems are sophisticated, and as an owner, you can get very creative at inspiring guests to get in the door during the week during the day!

3. Game specific reports native to cards systems assist ownership in seeing what equipment needs to be rotated to optimize square footage/ real estate. Daily –– and even hourly –– reports reveal a great deal about how the guest is utilizing your facility. A friend of mine says, “Guests vote with their dollars.” That statement is a brilliant insight into what’s working –– or not working –– in your facility. With a click of a button you can understand that data instantly and move quickly.

4. Game-specific reports help ownership determine optimum redemption pay out percentages. There are only two real ways to create profitability and they are cutting costs and increasing revenue. The ability to do both of those profit-building activities are supported in a high-level, data-driven way when you use a card system. It’s incumbent on the business owner to take a serious look at both costs and revenue in order to make timely decisions for the business in order to protect and grow the bottom line.

In closing, I thought it was fun to have card systems before they were cool. I loved selling this product in the old days. I knew that it made mucho sense to exchange tickets and tokens for technology, and I loved having the promotional power to create instant events.


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


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