Whether you're eight or 38, certain activities will always be entertaining. And laser tag—the ultimate hall pass to dart around like a gleeful goofball while zapping your buddies—is definitely one of those experiences.
From its niche origins as a real-life action game for sci-fi enthusiasts in the '80s, to its status today as a $288 million dollar industry, proprietors of this blast-of-a-pastime should get acquainted with the new taggers in town: Generation Z, the conscientious, tech-savvy demographic born from 1996 to 2010.
With more than 74 million individuals falling into this bracket, Generation Z will comprise 40 percent of the U.S. population by 2020. This group hates talking on the phone. They're wary of disclosing personal information. They've never known life without a mobile device. They might even have to ask Siri, "Who is Billy Dee Williams?" after discovering that Donald Glover is not, in fact, the first actor to play Lando Calrissian in a "Star Wars" movie.
At some point, Gen Z kids who grew up playing and loving laser tag will start booking and paying for games on their own. As a laser tag business operator, preparing to engage with this new generation of customers is crucial to keeping your arena forever glowing with infrared-lit fun.
Here are five easy ways to engage Generation Z with your laser tag business:
1. Be Thoroughly Detailed On The Web
The first step is as easy as slipping into your vest. Make every detail about your business accessible anytime, anywhere—on your website, that is. Here’s why: Generation Z has never known a world without Internet access. If they're dying to know the nearest place to get a cheesesteak at 11 a.m., they'll Yelp it. If they need to know who sings that old “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun” song, they'll Shazam it. And when they want to find a place to play laser tag, Google is the first—and quite possibly the only—place they’ll look.
Take a cue from War Play Laser Tag: They do a great job of fully explaining the game, and even include a descriptions page for their weapons and phasers. Ultrazone Laser Tag features questions and answers on their homepage describing what types of games they offer, along with tips on how to improve the overall playing experience. Generation Z trusts and respects this level of detail.
2. Be Mobile-Friendly
On average, the kids of Generation Z use five screens a day: a smartphone, TV, laptop, desktop and iPad. They send and receive more than 67 texts a day according to a Pew Research Center study, and you can bet they'll be snapping photos while playing in your laser tag arena. If Generation Z is spending most of their time browsing from a mobile screen, a website that’s not mobile-friendly won’t cut it.
Make sure your website is responsive—a.k.a., it “responds to” or resizes itself depending on the type of device it is being viewed on—so customers can easily access all of your information on-the-go. Request this if someone is designing your website for you, or choose a responsive template such as Wordpress, Squarespace, Webflow or Weebly if you're building the website yourself. For a good example, check out Playland 707. Their responsive website makes the booking process easy and clear when checking out via smartphone.
3. Encourage Social Media Interaction
According to a Pew Research study in 2012, half of teens use social media for research purposes—not just sharing funny cat videos with friends, or applying 23 different SnapChat filters to their selfie before deciding on the flower crown. Again.
If your laser tag business isn't on social media, you're likely to miss out big time on Generation Z customers.
Start by creating a fun hashtag, then offer an incentive for customers who share your posts on their own accounts and tag you in it (either with your hashtag, or by tagging your company's social media handle). Encourage this by offering to take team photos before and after each laser tag game, and let your guests know the photo with the most "likes" wins a discount or complimentary game.
You can also choose a winner at random: For example, let customers know that anyone who posts and tags their photo is eligible to win, and that a winner will be chosen at random every week, month, etc. Generation Z likes to see real-life customers in action, and running a laser tag facility means there's no shortage of photo ops.
Don't limit your company's social presence to one network, though. Generation Z prefers more personal platforms like Instagram, Whisper, Secret and Snapchat, rather than widely broadcasting their information over Facebook or Twitter. Try making a Snapchat account and adding cool snippets of battle scenes to your Snapchat Story. Or post a photo or video from each of your games on Instagram. It could help you gain followers, and entice players to return when they're reminded of how much fun it is.
4. Have A Secure Payment Process
Having a safe, secure payment process is important to Generation Z. Growing up in the midst of the Great Recession and regular fraud scams, these customers don't trust much. Asking them to email credit card numbers or fill out online forms that aren't accredited processors won't fly. Find a safe, secure way to accept payments so your customers aren't discouraged from booking.
5. Use An Online Booking Software
Almost half of Generation Z spends more than three hours a day on the computer for non-school-related purposes. These individuals are true digital natives—and will go through great lengths to avoid talking to you on the phone. Don’t lose customers just because they don’t want to dial your number. Use an online booking system that lets customers book a laser tag game anytime, anywhere—whether during a midnight Taco Bell run in an Uber, or while standing in line at Philz Coffee during a break between classes. Online booking software shouldn't limit the way you can accept payments, either. Find one that works for both phone and mobile reservations.
Here are a few more ways laser tag businesses can benefit from an online booking system such as ZOZI Advance:
Manually accept bookings with large groups: Allow customers to request a large booking and approve it manually. Bookings can be automatically approved or approved manually by you.
Add-ons: Customize the checkout flow so customers can easily purchase add-ons when booking (party packages, a better gun, meals, etc.) with their reservation.
Automated emails: Improve customer expectations, satisfaction and retention with customized emails containing essential details.
Set prices: Easily set prices for various group sizes or individuals.
Make it easy for private parties to book: Save certain time slots on the calendar specifically for private parties.
Ask for a review: Customize automated emails sent to customers after the game. Make it easy for guests to provide feedback by embedding links to Yelp or Trip Advisor directly in the email.
Sell and manage gift cards: Increase revenue during the holidays and throughout the year.
Easily manage and redeem vouchers: Allow customers to redeem vouchers (like Groupon or Living Social) through the checkout flow. This saves staff’s time while providing an improved checkout process for first-time and returning customers.
While Generation Z might not have as many original "Star Wars" fans, vesting up and playing laser tag is something all demographics can enjoy. These five tips will help your business stay engaged with the biggest consumer base of the future.