The IAAO Blog has been quiet these last several weeks as I accompanied my 77-year-old mom through the aftermath of a heart attack and resulting open-heart surgery. She is doing very well now, but as we were going through that lengthy process of moving from illness to good health, living in a medical setting which we were essentially doing led to some realizations that could be applicable to your fun center business.
Any medical condition that brings you to a hospital’s emergency ward is scary. Once you’re there, your brain tells you you should feel reassured being in an environment surrounded by high-tech equipment and highly trained personnel all working towards analyzing, stabilizing and improving your loved one’s health. But not only are you emotionally vulnerable, you also feel overwhelmed by the immense machine that is a hospital and a health issue of which the average person doesn’t have a deep understanding.
Guests coming to your fun center are on the opposite side of this spectrum, but there are three things I learned from my hospital experience that will keep your guests returning, enjoying and telling others about their great experiences.
1. Give clear directions
Most people—whether they under emotional stress or not—get frustrated when they’re not sure where to go. Or where to park, or where to line up, or where to get tokens. Clear signage, explicit facility maps if needed, all go a long way to bringing business to your door and keeping them happy. If billboards are part of your marketing mix, make sure any visual map is simple and easy to read at a distance. Website navigation should be easy to understand and follow as well.
2. Speak, and repeat
It’s really important that everyone communicates slowly. Your fun center is a loud and bright environment, which means most people are already distracted from hearing you properly. Follow these steps to make sure any explanations you or your staff give to guests are heard and understood:
- Speak slowly—This doesn’t need to be an exaggerated slowness, just not the hyper speed most people speak today
- Speak clearly—Enunciate your words
- Make eye contact—Looking someone in the eye has the effect of “forcing” them to pay closer attention. It has the side benefit of showing them you care they understand, and everyone wants to be cared about in some way.
3. Get everyone on board with messaging
My experience talking to cardiologists and nurses taught me that many people have different ways of saying the same thing. This can be confusing and frustrating, especially when they may use lingo I don’t understand. For example, a few nurses talked about my mom’s “cabbage”. I found out later she was saying CABG, which is an acronym for coronary artery bypass graft. Use one description for food service, games, hours or other processes at your fun center, and make sure your staff do the same. You might call your food and beverages services F&B, but your guests will hear it as “effin’ Bea” and will wonder what Bea did wrong 😉
Part of the guest experience is efficient and clear communication—if you can succeed here, you’ll easily have guests returning and bringing others along to your entertainment center.