Why am I writing these articles?
I’m going to do my best to answer the questions I mentioned at the end of Part 3.
Question Number One: Why am I writing these articles?
For a long time, I’ve used writing as a way to better clarify my thoughts. I also use it to identify and analyze our company’s most important opportunities, projects, as well as the challenges our team is working on. Our core focus over the last three plus years has been on creating 10x LASERTRON game experiences. It is through this focused and iterative process of writing down and refining exactly what we are trying to accomplish that has enabled us to dramatically improve our game experiences.
It’s important to understand that taking the game experience to a 10x level is about all aspects of the game. It’s not just about the game format, game and arena electronics, player equipment, arena playing field design and layout, special effect lighting, sound effects, voice audio, scoreboards/player info displays, player booking software, player info updates, membership, etc – it’s about seamlessly integrating all of these to achieve an amazingly ‘real’ player experience along with facilitating ongoing player engagement. Understanding, creating, and integrating all of these pieces and working everyday to create a truly immersive player experience is how 10x is achieved.
Posting these articles publically also forces me to think even more critically about what I am writing about. I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that I’m not going to be 100% right – so the struggle is about being more right than wrong. I’m also using these postings to sharpen our own internal convictions about what we need to focus on both as an attractions manufacturer and as an entertainment center operator. In fact, I don’t think it is even remotely possible to develop a 10x attraction without being both the attraction designer and an operator. The key is relentless focus on just one thing that actually has the capability of becoming 10x.
Moving forward, our entire industry has to improve at a much faster rate. The industry desperately needs more operators who have the courage to knowingly jump off the highest cliffs, but with a well thought-out plan to create some ‘THING’ that is truly amazing and unique. Those of us who want to be successful not only today, but also into the future must accelerate the process of creating dramatically better and unique attraction and guest experiences. Our one ‘Thing’ is our LASERTRON attraction experience and making it 10x for our existing and future clients as well as our own centers.
I really do believe it is within our power for each of us to become dramatically better and different and escape the sameness that has infected our industry.
By the way, I think most of you would agree that what I’ve written so far sounds a lot like plain old common sense. If it is, then why aren’t more of us jumping off a cliff and creating something dramatically better and different?
The main reason is fear. The fear of doing something dramatically different and unique and it not working. If we just copy what everyone else is doing and maybe improve it a little bit, then we won’t stand out from the crowd.
As Mark Twain once said, “Common sense is very uncommon.”
Here’s another common sense thought – if we continue to copy what everyone else is doing we are ALL walking backwards off a cliff.
The people who created Topgolf jumped off a pretty high cliff with their eyes wide open and it wasn’t an instant success like it appears to be today. They struggled in the beginning to figure it out.
By the way, the people who created Topgolf did not come from our industry and neither did the trampoline park concept. In fact, many waited and watched when laser tag first appeared, because they thought it was going to be a fad. If we want to control our own destiny, then we have to focus more of our resources on creating something that is dramatically better and unique.
Here’s a great example of how far behind the out-of-home entertainment industry is when compared to in-home entertainment.
Has an existing out-of-home entertainment model or even our entire industry come together to give away $3 million dollars in an out-of-home stadium in New York in a single weekend to a 16 year old kid?!? My guess is that many of you know what I’m talking about. If not, search ‘Fortnite World Cup Finals.’ The world is rapidly changing and we… are not!
Below is a slightly exaggerated, but probably close to the truth reality:
Billy do you want me to take you and your friends to XYZ entertainment center for a few hours of fun?
Mom are you insane!!! I’m in the middle of playing Fortnite with my Duo partner and so far we have only gotten in about 5 hours of practice and that’s mainly because you forced me to sign-up for that stupid soccer league because you were afraid I wasn’t getting enough exercise. Don’t you realize you are ruining my life and future earning potential as a professional video game player!?!
I don’t understand why you keep trying to distract me with these mediocre and non-career enhancing diversions!?!”
If you have kids and/or teens, you know the above is pretty damn accurate.
Question Number Two: What attractions might be capable of being raised to 10x and which ones probably aren’t capable of being raised to 10x?
Let’s start with the second part of that question and use Topgolf as the example.
Is there really any additional ways you can make Topgolf 10x better than what they have already accomplished? Is even 2x possible or is there only room for incremental improvement? Remember 2x is twice as good as what Topgolf is doing today. 2x is a massive improvement.
I think right now, incremental improvement is Topgolf’s only option, but lucky for them they are already at an extremely high level and literally own their niche.
Can someone make bowling 10x better than the best options that are available today? Or are only incremental improvements possible? What do you think? Can anyone OWN the bowling niche like Topgolf owns the driving range niche?
Can go-kart racing get 10x better than the best go-kart racing experiences available today? Or are only incremental improvements possible? What do you think?
Can restaurants and bars get 10x better today? Or are only incremental improvements possible?
Can the arcade get 10x better?
By the way, what is the one attraction many of us operate and we basically hid from our guests?
Answer = laser tag.
It’s really insane if you take a minute to analyze what we have done.
Laser tag is typically located in the far back corner of an entertainment center or behind the arcade and often with other attractions out in front obscuring its existence and yet it still somehow became one of the best attractions introduced in the last 30+ years.
Below is an unthinkable and yet accurate description of what we have done to laser tag.
Would anyone in our industry take a high earning redemption game like the six player Wizard of Oz and put it at the far back end of the arcade and enclose it in a windowless room with a windowless door that is sometimes locked??? In addition, would you also put a bunch of arcade games against the exterior wall of the windowless room and even place a few larger arcade games or small attractions out in front of the windowless room further obscuring the view of the windowless door used to access the six player Wizard of Oz?
Seriously, how good would the Wizard of Oz’s earnings be if that was the situation we put it in? And yet this is a fairly accurate description of one of the things we have done to limit laser tag’s true upside earning potential.
If there is one attraction in our industry that is capable of becoming 10x, it is definitely laser tag. Just eliminating the barriers described above would help laser tag to earn at least 50% to 100% more in revenue and significantly increase its profitability.
The unfortunate truth is that the typical laser tag being built today is about as impressive as a mediocre driving range compared to Topgolf. I know this sounds like a pretty big exaggeration, but laser tag has changed very little over the last 15 to 20 years.
Why hasn’t laser tag improved much at all in 15 to 20 years? It’s a pretty simple answer – nothing makes an attraction or business improve at a slower rate than being a success.
I’m not going to reveal all the details here on how to make laser tag a 10x attraction, but I will share some ideas. If you want to learn more about creating a 10x laser tag experience, send me an email or give me a call (this invitation does not include our competition).
Here are some thoughts on improving laser tag…
What would happen if we simply started to eliminate all those barriers described above – especially for new centers being built or existing centers adding or wanting to improve their laser tag experience? More importantly, what if we decided to build a dramatically bigger and better laser tag experience? Dare I say – a 10x experience!!!
What would happen if we made the laser tag attraction a focal point within our center like we do the arcade, bowling, ropes course, or VR?
Why don’t we fully glass the side of the laser tag arena and face the side towards the main area where the most people congregate within the building (LED illuminated arenas are bright enough to do this, black light arenas are not). What would happen if we actually let our guests watch the action in real-time with giant scoreboards to show all the players’ real-time scores?
It is totally crazy that we take such a great attraction and put it in the worst possible area within our entertainment centers. Even more insane, the vast majority of laser tag arenas are designed for kids, which means adults don’t want to play with their kids and they certainly aren’t going to plan a laser tag outing to play with their adult friends. WHY? Because the vast majority of laser tag arenas are cartoony looking, too small, and are routinely operated with the same game formats played 30+ years ago.
And it’s not that adults don’t want to play games like laser tag – after all, the average video game player is now hovering around 34 years old.
ESA said the following about the in-home and mobile video game industry in the United States, “2018 was a record-breaking year for our industry, with total video game sales exceeding $43.4 billion. Over 164 million adults in the United States play video games, and three-quarters of all Americans have at least one gamer in their household.”
It is insane, insane, unbelievably insane that entertainment center operators aren’t Topgolfing the crap out of laser tag!!!
Who’s going to stop following the herd?
Next post…I’m going to take a little side step and talk about why customer service can’t be a 10x or even 2x advantage.
Thanks for reading,
Links to past articles below,