There is an important part of a VR arcade’s success and well-being that I hope no good arcade owner looks over:
I speak from firsthand experience when I say that your employees will have a much larger influence on your arcade than you probably realize, and I’m not only talking about proper employee conduct. Let’s talk about the influential roles they play, specifically in virtual reality arcades.
In addition to benefiting arcade owners, this is actually a big point for game developers that hope to have their content used in arcades.
I have content developers ask me almost daily how their games can be more efficiently marketed. While they are more than justified in asking questions like that, I often have to respond that from a high-level standpoint, our resources are somewhat limited - we have over 250 games, after all. Sure, you can send out posters and employ other means of marketing (and these work great). But above all else, people need to recognize that for 99% of new customers, the first employee a customer greets will have the largest impact on what they play, or if they play at all. I know this because I’ve done it and seen it, countless times.
The truth is, many first-time customers are not just going to walk in and say “I want to play The Lab.” Most will walk in and ask the same question: “What games do you have?” Or other times, they’ll ask if you have a AAA title like Call of Duty, or something similar. Thankfully, we can confidently respond that we have something for anyone and everyone. But customers need some choices, because if you’re featuring hundreds, or even just dozens of games, they will be overwhelmed quickly. We will be talking about that more in-depth shortly.
The point is, what games people play will be overwhelmingly determined by what your employees recommend. So if you are personally trying to push specific games for whatever reasons (promotions, discounted licensing fees, whatever it may be), make sure you go out of your way to inform the employees of this.
If you don’t take the time to do so, do not be surprised when your plans and promotions are failing drastically. An employee isn’t going to recommend a game that they don’t believe will perform well or is not suitable for that specific customer.
Employee “Wisdom” and Suggestions - The Effect on Revenue
Remember what I said about customers feeling overwhelmed? This is important, and is probably affecting your potential revenue more than you realize, if your employees aren’t making adequate and quick recommendations.
Actually, this is one of the more vital selling-points for new VR customers. If your employees are not quick to make recommendations, every second wasted exponentially increases the odds that the customer will give up and leave.
This is a basic psychological concept that most people will be exposed to numerous times throughout their lives - If you’re reading this, I’d bet good money that you have too. Gamers, perhaps you have looked at your extensive library of games and thought, “I have nothing to play.” Parents, perhaps your children have walked into your fully-stocked kitchen after school and said, “There is nothing to eat.” When we are overwhelmed with options (no matter their quality), our brain will automatically analyze them and “group” them all together, altering our perception into believing that there is nothing worth our time. This has been referred to as a part of the “Paradox of Choice” and can be a rather crippling cognitive bias.
Neuropsychology lesson aside, you need to be aware that customers at your arcade do this ALL the time. Almost every time, in fact. So, make sure your employees are prepared to provide quick and effective game recommendations. Because people aren’t leaving due to “not being interested.” It’s VR! They’re leaving because they are being subjected to the phenomenon above. And if you’re aware of that, then you know exactly how to solve it.
Having this knowledge now, I kick myself for how many customers I let go back when I worked in an arcade.
Concurrently with this topic, there is massive value to be added to your arcade in terms of its reputation and the overall experience people have.
For arcade owners, what is the priority for customers? I would say that it is getting as many people through the system as possible, while still allowing the customer to have a great, memorable time.
We’ve talked about the first part and will continue to do so. But how is this second part done? Simple - Ensure that the customer does not play a game that is inappropriate or irrelevant to their interests
What I’m saying is that if a 5-year-old comes in with his family and asks to play a horror experience, it may be a good idea to respectfully suggest something else. And don’t be afraid of offending people! I guarantee that 99% of the time, people will be much more upset having played a game they hated but chose themselves, instead of a game that the employee personally recommended. They’re much more likely to leave a negative review of your facility as well. I’ve found that what matters is not how they feel going into the game, but how they feel coming out. That is what will determine if they come back.
Why is this? Because people trust the opinions of VR arcade employees. It all goes back to how overwhelmed people get with many options. These customers often rely heavily on the insight, experience, and “wisdom” of the arcade employees. Even if I pick a certain game that looks cool to me - if the employee steps in, briefly tells me why that game may not be the best choice for me, then immediately shifts focus to another cool game I should play, I will most likely trust that employee’s recommendation.
Keep in mind, however, that the point is not to dissuade someone from a specific game, rather to persuade them to play a different game. In other words, don’t put so much attention on why they shouldn’t play the game they initially chose. Try and place the emphasis on how amazing this other game will be instead. Especially with children, this is very important.
Above all else, be polite and respectful to the customer - obviously. If they insist on a specific game, don’t argue - that will just land you a negative review. They need to perceive you as confident and intelligent in this space, but also kind and respectful to their interests. The customer is always right!
Okay, so what’s the bottom line? Here it is -
Know the games, know what type of games different customers and demographics enjoy, and make sure your employees understand that even better. Tailor your library content and number of choices to your demographics, and make sure employees are really, really good at making quick and effective recommendations. That’s all there is to it.
Employees are the front line. In almost every arcade, customers will have to interact with them, and it matters a lot more than you may think. As you can learn to identify the small things that attract or detract customers, you’ll find that those small things aren’t really small at all when they apply to the vast majority of people. Learn to fine-tune your arcade’s tactics and techniques towards these things, and I promise it will make a difference.