I was talking with a friend recently and she started asking me questions about the video gaming industry. More specifically, she asked, “what are all of those gaming places about?” I found it strange that she was so curious, but had never thought to stop by and find out for herself. Of course, I immediately thought – I NEED TO BLOG ABOUT THIS! Attracting first time players could be a huge opportunity for gaming establishments.
While any type of establishment should consider the benefits of marketing to first time players, this may be best suited for gaming cafes or parlors, in order to bring in customers that wouldn’t normally venture into their establishment. Gaming parlors are a really unique concept in the video gaming industry. They are businesses that cater entirely to video gaming but must also have a liquor pouring license (a requirement for a video gaming license). There are over 900 gaming parlors in Illinois (about 25% of those are Accel locations). That’s a lot of video gaming businesses!
The ambiance of these parlors tends to be aimed at providing a relaxing yet entertaining spot to play slots. Décor ranges from minimalist to rustic to traditional. They cater to a wide variety of customers but have focused their marketing towards gamers, potentially intimidating first-time players. This could prevent these people from even walking in the door!
Here are a few ideas to try to bring in different kinds of customers, veteran and first-time players alike:
Invest in some good coffee and grab and go breakfast options. It’s pretty much a given that people are always rushing to get to work in the morning (and if you’re not one of those people, please teach me your ways). Maybe there isn’t a convenient coffee place on their way to work, and your gaming parlor happens to be open. Why not try to attract them to your location and make them feel welcome? Yes they’ll just be stopping in to grab coffee, but this increases the chances that they’ll consider spending more time in your establishment on other occasions. You might find yourself a regular customer, who eventually turns in to a regular player.
To promote your coffee and breakfast options, consider altering your Google business, Facebook or Yelp listing. .
Show off your establishment and cut down on new customer intimidation. You’ve probably put a lot of time and thought into the look and feel of your gaming parlor, so show it off! I’ve been in some really cool parlors, and I wouldn’t have had any clue until I needed to step foot inside for work purposes. Take pictures of the space and post on social media and your website. Advertise on these platforms to a wide variety of demographics to grab the attention of potential customers who haven’t played VGTs yet. This will also have the benefit of cutting down on new customer or first time player intimidation, as they may be more comfortable visiting for a first time if they know there is a bar or lounge area in addition to slot machine seats. That way, they can ease into trying out the slots.
Host fun events, unrelated to gaming. There are a multitude of ideas to drive foot traffic to your gaming location. Here are a few ideas to get you started (thanks to suggestions by Accel Customer, Aunt D’s in Hickory Hills):Host a paint or plant night.
Host a weekly or monthly book club.
Consider doing a special tapping of local brews.
Bring in someone to do bingo or trivia weekly.
For more unique ideas on how to drive traffic, check out this blog.
Working to attract first time players shouldn’t shift your focus entirely away from your regulars. After all, first time players may never become as valuable as those who visit you to play multiple times per week. However, it’s entirely possible to turn a first time player into your next regular, so it’s worth putting in the effort to attract this audience! Next time you assess your marketing strategy for your gaming café, consider using some of these ideas to welcome first time players in – they might just become some of your most loyal customers!