Let’s talk about the play structures mix and play ability
What is it? It’s the selection of indoor play structures and attractions that is going to be included in your project and how fun it makes the final result. Once again here, you have to ask yourself and your supplier the right questions – Here are some advices to avoid pitfalls:
• Don ‘t let yourself be fooled by numbers :
Some manufacturers in their offer detailed so much their design that they will make even an empty floor pad or a platform to access another level appear as “an activity”. Therefore the design looks full of numbers but in reality lots of them are no real play events.
Besides, “More” doesn’t always mean “Better & More fun”. Indeed, lining up too many hump decks in a corridor makes it not so exciting to children – kids love to run, jump, crawl – they enjoy the variety and need the space to do so. Keep that in mind while checking the fluidity of the design.
• Is the size of the play structures a good ratio for your overall space?
This is so important that I can’t stress it enough. You made a market study and prepared a business plan – make sure that the structures proposed are supporting that plan properly to ensure profitability. Check that the play attractions proposed are not just some standard design not adapted to your needs and building but that it matches the requirements in term of ratio between your space and the play structures.
Especially if your building is in an area with high rent cost, the indoor play structures included need to have the capacity to handle an optimized visitor flow to match the calculation made in your business plan. Otherwise, you run the risk of saturation which will deliver a very poor experience for the kids playing not encouraging recurrent visits.
If you can’t afford the play structures that will allow the right amount of visitors to cancel the effect of an high rent, you have 2 options :
– Find a new location cheaper where the space matches better the budget you have for play structures.A smaller playground with the right ratio can be more profitable (depending on competition of course)
– Go for a 2-steps concept that plan an extension of the play structures when you can afford it over 1 or 2 years. The benefits are that the space needed can be calculated,you can use it for some other activities until you have the budget for the extension and you can create the buzz with new activities after having been open for a while.
• Check each offer with a fresh eye and assess real value in playability :
“But check the kart track is 2m longer” – yes but is it necessary? Does it bring more play value?
Future play owners often take an offer and try to compare it point per point with the competition one. However, if you selected indoor playground creative manufacturers, the chances that the designs match are more than slim. Most likely, you will have 2 or 3 different concepts of FEC to compare but as well, often in the brainstorming process leading to that quote, you would have been asked which main play events you want to have.
How do You chose?
The Golden rule is to put yourself in a kid shoes so if you have children in the right age range, bring them to visit indoor playgrounds and get feed-back on what they liked the most as activity. Remember as adults, we are often impressed by appearances so if it looks good, it’s good. Not that esthetic isn’t important but it needs to be fun first!
Look at the overall value of the concept – don’t get too stuck on details points such as an activity being a bit smaller or shorter.
You’ve checked about safety, you analyzed the indoor play structures mix, now it’s time to consider Part 3 – the type of partnership proposed in each offer.
Olivier LECA is marketing manager for the group European Leisure Industries (leading European indoor playground manufacturer), with a background of project manager in the Sales team of VCS Play France, member of the ELI group. Olivier infuses the expertise of the group (more than 130 projects sold in 2011 and about 50 years of combined experience in the industry) within his articles series to help and support entrepreneurs with an FEC (Family Entertainment Center) creation project to make sure that they will optimize their chances of success. Consult us at website TO Compare Indoor Playground Manufacturers Offers Part2 About Play Structures