COVID-19 reopening strategy: reward your top spenders to bring them back says Intercard’s Jerry Heinz

By | May 27, 2020

ST. LOUIS — As international amusement operators prepare to reopen their facilities after the COVID-19 shutdown, Intercard’s Jerry Heinz has some valuable tips on how to bring back their best customers.

Heinz has been in the hospitality and amusement industry for over 20 years, having spent the last 7 years as Asia-Pacific sales manager for cashless system provider Intercard. His work in these industries has allowed him to visit over 30 different countries, hundreds of FEC’s, theme parks and arcades. He’s met some of the most talented industry professionals in Asia, India, the Middle East, and North America. His advice to operators around the world is:

Each country is unique but the current COVID-19 crisis has hit every country hard and everyone has shared the incredible burden. Until now a country or region would have their own specific challenges that had to be overcome be it weather related, economics or political but COVID-19 created a true global event that everyone is experiencing together.

One of the most important questions FEC operators should be asking themselves right now is how are you rewarding your top spenders?  

Having travelled 150 hotel nights a year with hundreds of thousands of air miles accumulated, I have become truly knowledgeable on frequent flyer programs, elite status, or memberships and their many benefits.  I am sure many of you are, like me, receiving promotional emails with offers from all the companies that you usually work with. These programs are making sure I am not forgetting about them and it’s working.

While hotels, airlines, theme parks and FECs will take a little longer to get back to normal than other industries, those that are staying in touch with their customers will reap the benefits once the crisis lifts. This is a proven tactic used by the biggest brands. The amusement industry is all about “guest experience” and by rewarding your customers you are adding to that positive experience and ensuring their return.

Now is the time to reach out to your guests, keep them engaged and keep your business part of your customers’ top-of-mind awareness. If you are successful in doing so you will be one of the first activities they do when they can leave the house.

With so many options for people to spend their entertainment dollars, it is important to add value and reward your most loyal customers.  This has worked extremely well for the travel industry.  Here are some tested and true ideas to consider:

·   Offer an invitation-only re-opening night for your top 100 or 1000 customers (based on spend in the last year.)

·   Set up memberships to reward top spenders, i.e. spend $200 in a year and become Silver Member and receive a free game ever day, spend $500 and become a Gold member and receive 2 free games a day, spend $1000 and become a Diamond Member and received 3 free games a day.  

·   Promote sales now with added bonus cash.  Offer customers who purchase game cards now a bonus to use when your location opens. The cruise lines are pushing this type of offer right now (e.g., book a cruise now for 2021 and it is a huge discount and extremely flexible). Try to get the money now for future play.

One of my customers is Tony Argery, owner of FunHouse FECs in Brisbane, Australia. He tentatively plans on opening up in mid or late June with the following membership program for his customers that has gotten him great results before. For customers who spend over $1,000 at FunHouse they will automatically receive a Gold Tap Card which gives them 1 free game a day and 5% off all games. His Platinum Tap Card gives away 2 free games a day and 10% off a game which keeps his customers coming back for more.

He also does 2 main deals which include tickets, a $35 deal, and a $55 deal. These are the most asked-for deals in all of his locations. The tickets that come with it are a great incentive and all locations will do about 80% of their total revenue in those 2 deals alone. Tony says his $35 spend is the best and he has found that if you get $35 off 80% of your customers, you’re on a winner.

I truly believe that the industry will thrive again in the future and remembering your top spenders will help guarantee that.