Party Professor – July 2016


Create Special Moments

And Increase Excitement and Sales at the Same Time


Beth Standlee

By Beth Standlee, CEO, TrainerTainment

I  personally celebrated a wonderful “Birthday Cruise” this year; and the service team at Norwegian Cruise Lines delivered an experience I’ll never forget! We had gone ashore at the first stop, which fell on my actual birthday. When we returned to the ship that day we found our cabin decorated with birthday streamers, a happy birthday banner, and a towel animal holding a balloon and a cupcake. Giddy, excited, appreciated, these are all words that come to mind when I think of it now. I’m 55 for crying out loud! Can you imagine how much a child loves a surprise?

I’ve been thinking a lot about what we could do at family entertainment centers to create that SPECIAL moment. It’s not really the “what” you do, but rather the surprise of doing it. I believe it should be extra, unadvertised and something that inspires your 16-year-old team member to do it again and again.

I know everyone likes to WIN something. What’s that song…“All I do is win win win!” You can take every birthday party and each group event to a whole new level if you develop a simple prize-winning strategy. I recommend that you don’t even advertise this “free prize” feature.

Here’s what I mean… With birthday parties, I have seen lots of excitement when the guest of honor gets to jump into a ticket blower for a set amount of time while all of his or her friends watch them win as many tickets as they can gather. It’s one of those happy squealing moments that inspires at least three other children in the group insist that they HAVE to have their party at your center so that they have a turn in this prize-filled machine!

A crazy wheel of fortune can have the same affect. The excitement is generated by gathering the party around the wheel as the birthday honoree takes a spin makes for great photos and creates an energy in the center that motivates others to book their party, too. Don’t be afraid to give something big. If you decide to have a birthday prize wheel, make every prize worth winning. You can easily bury the cost of the prize into the price of the party.

When it comes to group events, I’m a big proponent of giving the event planner a “thank you” gift. This concept stems from my 11-year history with Tupperware. We never held a Tupperware party without having someone who was willing to host the party. As a way of saying thank you, that host always received a gift.

I’m confident that you could get more referrals and more repeat group events if you would reward the person that puts the event together. I would give that person a “family four pack,” one free hour of bowling and shoes for up to four anytime lanes are available, four rounds of mini-golf, four go-kart rides, or anything that has a high-perceived value. I would stick to giving thank you gifts that bring this party planner back to your center rather than giving free massages or gift certificates they could use somewhere else. Put the details of this reward in a very nice envelope and make a fuss over presenting the thank you gift to the individual. As a matter of fact, I think it makes sense to do it in the middle of the event with others looking on. I believe that group event attendees can’t help but to think “WOW, that was nice…I think I’ll book my next ‘girls night out’ or end-of-season party here”!

Remember, don’t tell your guests that this is what you do. Make it a surprise. In Louisi­ana they call it “lagniappe” (something extra). To read more about the effect this kind of generosity can have on your business, download or grab Seth Godin’s book, Free Prize Inside.

In the meantime, party on!

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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