The laser tag industry has enjoyed tremendous success in the past decade. Once primarily found in stand-alone locations or traditional family entertainment centers, laser tag attractions can now be found in a diverse range of facilities such as bowling centers, trampoline parks, movie theaters, and even cruise ships. With that expansion has come a new breed of operator and a new set of expectations. Today’s facility operator does not have the time to become a laser tag expert and today’s laser tag player is older and more casual. To be successful, laser tag must be attention-grabbing, simple to operate, and easy to understand. More importantly, it has to just work.
Laser tag is a remarkable revenue-generator, but it is easy to fall victim to common misconceptions and pitfalls.
"All laser tag systems nowadays are the same, so I should just choose the cheapest."
I hear this one a lot in my travels to trade shows and conferences. Ironically, it is often the low-end, generic laser tag manufacturers or consultants that will say that. Your laser tag system decision is going to stick with you — hopefully! — for 5-10 years or more, so take your time to do the research and make an informed decision.
A well-run laser tag attraction will generate a minimum of $200K in annual revenue, with some sites enjoying sales over $1M. With all the costs involved — buildout, arena theming, equipment, marketing — are you willing to risk that kind of revenue over a $5-10K upfront savings? It’s a horrible feeling being stuck with an inferior product and watching your competitors leech your sales because you tried to cut corners.
Laserforce’s new Gen8 Infinity system is an industry game-changer with its stunning new lighting effects, sleek new design, and multiple interactive screens. I believe that in a few years at most, many of its innovations will have become industry standards as the competition struggles to catch up.
Don’t get stuck with an outdated, retro laser tag system now, only to watch your competition upgrade to the new standard in a few years.
"Features don’t matter."
This is a common refrain from operators in high-volume markets or ones with a large number of attractions. But try telling this one to your guests. There is a reason those features exist. Sure, a laser tag membership program may not be a perfect fit for your facility operations, but the main appeal of laser tag is to bring players into another world, to let them experience a live action video game in a physical, social environment.
Ten years ago, the majority of your guests may not have played laser tag before, so anything you offer would have been a novelty. But in today’s market, chances are your guests already know what laser tag is; they have probably already played at your competitor’s facility. If you want to enjoy strong revenue and beat your competition, don’t offer your guests a stale, out-dated laser tag experience.
The best advice I can give you is to choose a laser tag system that you can grow into. When you first open, simplicity and reliability will be crucial to getting you off the ground, but if you’re not continuously striving to improve the guest experience, you are certainly going to fall behind.
Gone are the days when simply having laser tag could virtually guarantee $500K in annual revenue.
"I can just add laser tag to my facility and the revenue will start rolling in."
There is too much competition and the market is too mature. In my market of Northern Colorado, there are seven places to play laser tag within a 45 minute drive.
When an operator tells me their laser tag revenue is lower than they expected, the first thing I do is look at the attraction itself. Do they offer a world-class experience with high-end equipment and a well-themed arena? Or is it a paint-by-numbers experience where they simply checked a box with a generic laser tag system and a cut-and-paste arena theme? Is their laser tag attraction easy to find in their facility or is it tucked away in a corner?
Then I review their operations. A new laser tag attraction can cost $200-300K to open, more if you are adding a large system or two-level arena. With that kind of investment, you should back it up with strong marketing and promotions. Ten years ago, you could get away with putting a “what is laser tag” paragraph and stock photos on your website. Today, it is imperative you show your guests why they should choose your laser tag attraction. Here are just a few suggestions:
- Invest in a photo shoot to put your own laser tag pictures on your website and in social media.
- Make sure you are listed in Google Maps as a laser tag destination and optimize your website SEO for “laser tag”.
- Integrate laser tag with your combo packages, birthday parties, and group events. Don’t make it an after-thought.
Laser tag is an attraction, not a video game; don’t risk it losing out to your Ticket Time crane.
"I don’t need to reinvest in my laser tag attraction."
Per square foot, laser tag can consistently out-earn even your game room. You wouldn’t consider going a year or more without adding the hottest new game to your arcade, so don’t neglect your laser tag attraction. The easiest thing to do is take advantage of unused features already included in your system. But other easy options include adding interactive targets or DMX lighting.
Come see us in June at the next LaserTag 360 and meet our team. We’d love to get to know about your laser tag and FEC goals, and how Laserforce can help you reach those!
Laser Tag Site Operator & Laserforce COO
Jeff owns and operates with Laserforce equipment and is one of the top FEC operational leaders in the industry.