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CenterEdge Software Blog

Online Birthday Reservations vs. the Human Touch

Posted by Rick Smith on Mar 9, 2012 11:04:00 AM

Often we hear the argument – “I don’t want to book my parties online because I will lose that personal touch”.  It’s not a new argument – in fact it comes along every time technology changes, radio would never replace newspapers, TV would never replace radio, and the Internet could never compete with TV news…   

It’s a classic argument – and it’s an unnecessary one.

The truth of the matter is it does not, and should not, need to be an either/or proposition.  The smart businesses use both, and when properly organized into an integrated group management system, your website, birthday party booking software, and staff will become a Kids with Party Hornswarm and personal sales team that is open 24/7, never needs a coffee break, and can party and can schedule an event even when there are 250 kids screaming and laughing and blowing horns in the background.

So here are a couple of ideas to help you get the most out of your website, and your staff, and provide a first rate experience to your customers at the same time.

1) K.I.S.+S – Keeping It Simple Adds Sales!  McDonalds has dozens of different food choices, with endless possibilities of combinations – but when you go in order lunch, you usually say “Give me a #7”.  We don’t want to have to think that hard, and so we are happy to let the “experts” make all the choices and put together a simple package for us to choose.  Use the same concept in your online party and group sales and watch the difference!  One of our most successful customers books 50+ parties on any given Saturday – they have 2 party packages to choose from.  Keep your packages simple and limited in number, and let your hosts do the upselling while they are ensuring your guests have a wonderful time.

2) The 5 touch rule – This is where you create the personal experience that turn a one-time visitor into a life customer.  Develop a system where you reach out and interact with every client at least 5 times – for example: Client goes to your website and likes what they see and books a birthday party (touch).  They immediately receive an email confirming their event (touch), and giving them links to a page on your site where they can invite all of their friends to the party, and where their friends can RSVP (also providing you with a database of email addresses for local families with the same aged children).  2 days before the event the customer receives a reminder about the party, including a special offer for an additional $10 in bonus points on their Arcade Player Cards for only $5/child (touch).  On the day of the event, friendly staff work to ensure a successful party experience (touch).  The day after the event, the parents receive a follow-up thanks-you email with a satisfaction survey and a coupon their next web purchase and a request to suggest your facility to their friends for their parties (touch). 

3) Choose the Right Software Package – not all online group scheduling programs are equal.  Sure, anyone can build something that throws up a web page, but will it integrate with your Point of Sale to account for additional sales during the party and allow you to change prices and packages one time for both the web and your internal system?  Will it display your capacity and prevent you from double-booking the same room or over-booking your play areas?  Will it allow you to complete online waivers and synchronize new customers with your internal systems for reporting?   If not – maybe it is time to consider a more robust system for managing your party and group reservations.

Hopefully this will give you some ideas as to how you can take your website beyond being an advertising tool and turn it into a 24/7 revenue stream.

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Topics: FEC, Customer Loyalty, Birthday Party & Groups, Online Sales & Ticketing