More and more laser tag facilities are moving into malls across America and finding an entirely new customer base.
There has been a resurgence of indoor laser tag establishments popping up in malls across America, as owners are finding that operating a venue makes much better sense when there are thousands of potential customers passing by each day.
David Barski, owner of Barskis Xtreme Lazer Tag inside The Shops at Ithaca Mall in New York has only been in a mall location since October, but has seen a far better turnout than his previous year in operation in a stand-alone locale.
“This opportunity opened up and I’m so glad it did. The foot traffic you get is so much better than what we had,” he says. “At our old venue, we had to be the destination, but here people can walk by and decide to play. They don’t need to plan in advance.”
Barski says laser tag is great for any age, and it’s one of the rare things you can do as a family. The arena is 4,000 square feet and each game is seven-and-a-half minutes long, with a price tag of $7 per game, $12 for two or $15 for three. Group rates are also available.
The one downside to being inside a mall is that an operator needs to have standard times for opening and closing, as opposed to setting your own time, but Barski says that’s a small price to pay for the increased business he has seen at this location.
“Sometimes in the morning, it’s not very busy, but even then, people come by—parents and grandparents—and check out what we have to offer and those people become customers later on because they come back with their kids and grandkids,” he says.
Si Flores, owner of Laser Tactics in the Crystal River Mall in Florida says nothing beats the weekend foot traffic at a mall for driving new business. “Sometimes people are hanging out and they don’t have anything to do, and they happen upon us and come in for a while, have some fun and it keeps them active,” he says.
Laser Tactics opened for business in April of 2014, it offers a 3,000-square-foot arena, and features a live feed so people walking by can check out the gaming action. Games cost $7 for a 15-minute session, and group rates are available.
Flores says that hosting private parties is a big part of the business, and not just for the little ones. Plenty of adults rent out the space for private events with co-workers, and even church groups plan events there.
Keeping the guns and arena clean and working requires a bit of maintenance, but Flores says that simply checking the batteries and doing a good cleaning at the end of the day is usually all that’s required for upkeep.
Jamie Anderson, owner of Battlezone Laser Tag, which operates at the Flagstaff Mall in Arizona notes that since coming to the mall last year, his attraction has even helped other stores in the mall get business.
“We are in a small town of about 60,000 people and this is a great location for us because parents will drop their kids off and go shop while [the kids] play laser tag,” he says. “We are filling a void in one area of the mall.”
Currently, the facility is only open Fridays through Sundays, and features a 2,500-square-foot arena, but plans are in the works to expand its hours over the summer.
When it comes to marketing his laser tag venue, Barski utilizes radio ads that cater to the college crowd, as the mall is located within 20 miles of four major colleges. “A large part of our business is college kids, the fraternities and students just looking to blow off some steam,” he says. “We also do a lot of parties for the younger generation and have adults for corporate events, so you need to make sure you reach everyone with your marketing message. Being in a mall helps, because so many more people pass by and it stays top of mind.”
Barskis Xtreme Lazer Tag also has a strong Facebook following—a must for success Barski says—and each week offers coupons to its followers for discounted games.
At Laser Tactics, Flores tries to get the word out however he can. “Whenever there is a local gun show or car show, we’ll distribute coupons and let people know we are here,” Flores says. “We’ll do the coupon books at the schools and word of mouth is a great advertisement for us.”