Whether you’re just starting in the Location-Based Entertainment Industry or you’ve been part of it for a while, there are always a lot of questions that require your attention.

Although there are many resources on the market, only a few can connect the information chronologically and work as a guide for each operator. Below you’ll find the most frequently asked questions if you’re at the beginning and you plan on entering the Family Entertainment Center business!

1. Planning & Designing your FEC

Opening, designing, and operating a Family Entertainment Center is a long way run, and planning ahead is an essential skill in this journey. 

Consider these questions when deciding whether or not to start it:

What are some things I need to think about when opening a family entertainment center? 

Make sure your target audience is willing to spend money.

Consider their earnings, but also run customer interviews and surveys to estimate their average dollar spend per visit.

■ Foresee how long you plan to run your business.

This business of fun can take a while until you open your center and have guests roaming around your facility and hearing the first positive feedback. It can take years only to plan and design your venue, so you have to be fully committed to this idea.

Determine if you have enough space for your attraction mix.

Start by thinking about what attraction mix you’re looking for by figuring out what your demographic would want to spend their money on. Then, it’s only a matter of adapting it to your space. For instance, do some mix and matching, discuss with a facility designer and see how can you add value to every single square foot you have.

Find out what permits and licenses you need for operating a Family Entertainment Center.

You will need different business licenses and permits to operate any type of business, depending on your state and the type of family entertainment center business you are starting.

You can find out what types of licenses you need by visiting the Department of Consumer Affairs website.

Make sure your financial planning is realistic, and you won’t run out of money.

There are several different types of loans available for starting a family entertainment center. Another option is to get funding from venture capital investors.

Check local laws regarding zoning requirements.

What factors should I consider when locating an FEC in my area?

There are many factors to consider before opening a Family Entertainment Center, but the location is one of the most important. The better located your entertainment center is, the more profitable it is. 

First, look at the demographics of your area. If your primary demographic are kids, keep in mind that they will always be together with their parents, especially moms. Paring your attractions with a café or dining area for the family could be a viable solution. If your primarily demographic are adults, your attraction mix should be new, high-quality, and interesting-looking. Adults are willing to spend more for high quality experiences. Also, food and beverage is important for them. 

Secondly, take a look at the competitors nearby. Do you have similar centers around your desired location? If yes, how are you going to differentiate? Your venue should offer something distinctive that convinces people to choose it over another facility. Obtain that uniqueness through your attraction mix, experiences, and the general mood you create.

Take into consideration the local drive-times. Your main demographics should be able to arrive easily at your location, in 15-20 minutes. Parking lots and area safety are also essential factors.

Tip: Work with a commercial real estate agent to find the perfect spot.

Furthermore, keep in mind to think big! Search for a place that allows you to expand when the time comes.

How do I choose my attraction mix?

For a successful attraction mix, understand your demographics. 

What are those attractions that can draw customers to your facility?

Kyle Allison, owner of Andy’s Altitude 1291 in Oklahoma says in our Wize Talks:

“But what can you do that’s unique? What do you have that someone says: Okay. I’m going to come to that facility because they have Item A, Attraction A, but I can’t do it anywhere else.

Tip: Choose attractions that complement each other and make great package deals. For example, if you have a bowling center, you can add VR and arcades so guests can play something quick and thrilling while waiting in lines for bowling.

2. Networking in the Entertainment Industry

If you decided to take the long run of managing an FEC, remember: “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.”

Your network is your net worth, especially in the entertainment industry. 

How do I choose my suppliers?

Most of your suppliers and long-term partners. You will need maintenance and maybe other products from them, so a good relationship is crucial.

Consider those factors when you’re looking after suppliers that fit your needs:

1. Their products are qualitative, and you won’t have unpredictable future costs for maintenance.

2. They have good references.

3. They innovate and are up to date with trends.

How can I connect with other FEC owners?

Just like suppliers, other FEC owners are present at entertainment industry trade shows (for example IAAPA – the premier trade show in North America). 

Furthermore, there are events specially made for beginners (Trainertainment, Birthday University) and many conferences you should attend to gain information and connect with people from the entertainment industry.

Moreover, you can connect with them through social media. Here you have some groups where you can start:

1. FEC Operators

2. FEC Products for Owners and Operators

3. FEC- Family Entertainment Center/Location Based Entertainment

And last, but not least, visit as many venues as you can! 

Who else should be part of my network?

You made that entertainment location for people, to bring them memorable moments of fun and enjoyment. Therefore, be present at community events with booths, sponsor causes you believe in, and stay in touch with your guests. 

3. Successfully Operating an Family Entertainment Center

Go the extra mile and make your venue stand out!

Managing your Entertainment Center comes with lots of challenges, but equally fulfillment. 

Check this articles below to gain a better overview about what you should know about how to operate an FEC:

Create Amazing Moments in Your FEC | Guest Experience

The Right Attraction Mix with The Right Marketing Mix: A Success

VR Attraction That Runs at 100% Capacity! Multiple Game Sessions

How can I ensure safety for employees and customers?

Strong safety culture is essential for operating a Family Entertainment Center, and it’s not only about insurance:

– Conduct in-depth safety training for your staff and customers

– Show complete pre-inspection checklists and logs for attractions

– Respect the maintenance records

Get certifications like AIMS, NAARSO, etc.

Continually share and promote your safety vision

Where should I look for trends and news?

Here you have some must-follow publications:

IAAPA Fun World & IAAPA Daily Newsletter

Vending Times

Blooloop

Replay Magazine

Intergame

Even so, remember: your demographics make the most relevant trends for you! 

Choose suppliers that offer you analytics tools for your customers and keep an eye on reports.

This article is a brief summary. Additionally, you can access a 30-page guide covering all the key elements of a successful FEC as a free download!