The World's Only Online Magazine Devoted Exclusively to the Business of Bowling
Its not too late to capture last minute Holiday Party business
We’re into December and your Holiday Party business is in
full-swing. How is it going?
Despite the economic Grinch threatening to steal corporate party
business as it has over the past two holiday seasons, a number of
operators say early marketing and incentive efforts have been helping
them boost sales over last year. However, even for those centers
managing to book parties during this holiday season, things could be
One survey released in November predicted 2010 would see the worst
holiday party slump in 22 years. The poll, conducted by Amrop
Battalia Winston, a global executive search firm based in New York,
found only 79 percent of businesses were planning a holiday
celebration, down from 81 percent in both recessionary 2009 and 2008
— the previous lows in the survey, which started in 1989.
Costs remain top of mind for companies thinking about holiday parties
for employees. What was once an accepted cost-of-doing business, has
now become a luxury.
This season, forward-thinking operators started offering incentives
early to inoculate against the party-blues flu. In our centers, we
sent out email offers, direct mail and did telemarketing (in October
and November) to EVERY group that had booked a party with us in the
previous three years. We offered discounts for booking early. It
A corporate bowling party is an extremely affordable and remarkably
popular party option that many party planners simply overlook until
YOU remind them.
So, even if you didn’t get a jump on corporate party marketing this
season, it’s still not too late to capture some last-minute party
business from companies that may have been putting off making a
decision about what to do this year. Here’s what you can do right
Use your own database – Send out an email to everyone (not just
businesses) in your database to remind them that it’s not too late
to book their HOLIDAY PARTY with you. Most people work somewhere.
They don’t have to be the company’s party planner to suggest a
bowling party to their boss.
Chamber email blast – Make a special offer exclusively to your
Chamber of Commerce members. The Chamber will include your offer in
their next weekly email newsletter.
Promote to your own customers (especially league bowlers) – Promote
company parties in-house, especially to your league bowlers. Put
flyers on the bowler’s area tables, use monitor graphics, make P.A.
Getting parties to come back next year
For bowling centers, when it comes to hosting and conducting group
parties, one of the most important (but most overlooked)
considerations is getting the group to come back next year.
Too often, bowling center and FEC operators take a short-sighted
approach to their party business, looking at it as a quick source of
immediate revenue. Consequently, they fail to capture repeat and
referral business because they skimp on the quality of the event in
order to squeeze a few more bucks to the bottom line. Penny-wise,
Long-term visionaries recognize that all “party business” is a
gateway to substantial future business, not only in the form of
repeat business but in significant referral business that comes from
the attendees at any given party event.
Think of every party guest as an unpaid salesperson who, if impressed
enough with the event they are attending, will go out into their
world-of-influence and recommend your center for everything from
their kid’s birthday party, to a spouses company party to a
fund-raising event, to a church outing, to a youth sports banquet.
On the other hand, if the party experience lacks that “wow
factor,” if it is not positively memorable, or worse yet, if it
stinks, those guests will make it their mission in life to be sure
you never see them (or any of their friends, family and co-workers)
If you’re doing things right, your party business will grow
exponentially from year to year. You will be able to do less party
“marketing” and more party “management.”
But, you will NOT grow your party business if your parties aren’t
exceptional. Companies, parents and event planners are being more
selective than ever about where they will spend their money. If the
party experience you deliver is not EXTRAORDINARY and MEMORABLE down
to the smallest detail, you will simply not grow your business.
I always looked at our party business as a future source of passive
income. We would kill them with our party execution, with the party
experience, then sit back and simply “take the order” in future
years. We NEVER lost a potential repeat party because of poor party
execution or a lack of perceived value. Unfortunately, I can’t say
the same about many centers I’ve observed.
15 THINGS YOU CAN DO THIS YEAR
TO GET PARTIES TO RETURN NEXT YEAR
In an upcoming BowlingMarketing VIP monthly package subscribers will
receive, “COMPANY AND GROUP PARTIES – The definitive guide to
marketing, booking and hosting group parties.” In the meantime,
here is a taste of some of the things you should be doing to make
sure the parties you host THIS year will be back NEXT year?
SET YOURSELF APART – the party experience must be extraordinary.
You must not only be different, you must be better.
IT’S ALL ABOUT THE “EXPERIENCE” – You are not selling
anything tangible. When people leave your bowling center, they leave
only with a “feeling” about the experience they just had with
you. That feeling is either great, bad or indifferent. If it isn’t
great, you will never see them again.
IT MUST BE “PERFECT” – You will be measured against the best
service providers in the world (Marriott, Nordstrom’s, Disney,
Southwest Airlines). Set your standards by those companies, not by
the other bowling centers in your marketplace.
“PERFECT” IS IN THE DETAILS – Anything the customer sees or
touches must be perfect. No exceptions.
THE IMPORTANCE OF THE PARTY HOST – The host will make or break your
party. Hire personalities, train skills.
THE GUIDING PRINCIPLES OF A PARTY EVENT – For company parties, the
owner/manager/event planner wants their guests to be happy and to be
talking about the party the next day at work. Your job is to make
them look good in the eyes of their employees. For birthday parties,
keep mom happy and make the guest of honor feel like this was the
BEST birthday party they EVER had.
THE PARTY HOST CHECKLIST – Leave nothing to chance. No matter how
experienced the host is, always work from a detailed party checklist.
THE “WELCOME” – First impressions are everything. Use a giant
“Welcome Pin” in the lobby and other “Welcome” signage to
personalize the event.
THE PRESENTATION – Colorful tablecloths, plates, napkins, plastic
ware, balloons, attractive serving utensils, chafing pans and food
presentation is a MUST.
THE ATMOSPHERE AND THE MUSIC – It’s a party, make it feel like
one. Subscribe to BowlingMusic.com (The Bowling Music Network).
THE “SHOUT-OUT” – Get on the P.A. Welcome the guests, do a
birthday shout out. Play the birthday song.
GROUP INTERACTION – Your host should be actively interacting with
COLORED PINS AND FREE GAMES – Put colored pins in the racks. Give
out free games for strikes and spares. These create excitement and
serve as “bounce-back” coupons.
GOOFY “SKILL SHOTS” – Do a couple "goofy “group skill shots
and award prizes.
THE GROUP PHOTO – Take a group photograph. If you can’t give hard
copies before the party ends, at least email the photo to the party
BOOK A PARTY TODAY INCENTIVE – Offer an incentive (10% discount) to
anyone who books a future party before leaving.
REFERRALS – Offer an incentive for any future referrals.
FOLLOW-UP – Send a thank you note/email and a copy of the photo.
For more details on any of these ideas, give me a call or drop me a
note. - Paulkreins@bowlingMarketing.com
Paulkreins@bowlingMarketing.com or 801-259-8983.