When you think of memberships, what types of venues come to mind? Museums, zoos, aquariums, and even amusement parks (at least more recently). However, memberships have not historically been common in smaller attractions such as family entertainment centers, trampoline parks, or similarly sized venues. In recent years, though, offering memberships has provided operators in the family entertainment space with the realization that not only can they work, but that they can simultaneously provide an excellent revenue stream while creating superior value for the guest.
This intersection between revenue growth and consumer value should not be ignored. When implemented correctly, memberships can create consistency in income where there previously was none, foster guest loyalty that increases attendance, and extends the lifetime value of your most satisfied guests.
When implementing a recurring membership offering, here are several factors and KPIs to conider that will ensure a successful launch.
Type of program
Some memberships are a fixed cost - meaning they are a one-time, upfront payment. Recently, attractions have implemented a recurring membership model that charges on a consistent basis, such as monthly. A recurring membership removes a substantial amount of friction from the purchase experience, especially for a large family, as the annual cost for the membership is processed in much smaller bites, which will ultimately introduce new guests to your membership program who otherwise would not see it as a viable option for their budget.
Path to purchase
The cost of membership should look attractive when juxtaposed with the cost of a standard admission. For instance, a trampoline park that charges $20 for admission might charge $25/month for a monthly membership, which makes it easy to sell an additional $5 per person once they’re already in the door. By offering for your guests to upgrade their ticket to membership as a simple function in your point of sale makes it easy for both your guests and your staff to facilitate the transaction. Depending on your preference, you may even extend the offer for guests to upgrade within a certain timeframe after they’ve visited so that they don’t need to make the commitment while they’re still onsite.
Commitments and limitations
One of the challenges of offering membership is due to the attractive cost, it can be easy to be taken advantage of. Using the example above, if a daily admission is $20 and a monthly membership is $25, is there something in place that is stopping the guest from purchasing a membership, visiting 30 days in a row, and then canceling? Without a minimum commitment, your membership could be easily abused.
There are a few things that operators can do to lower the risk of their membership program from being taken advantage of. One of them includes offering multiple tiers of membership, with lower tiers containing blackout dates on the busiest days, where capacity is more restricted. The higher tiers would be free of blackout dates, giving the guest the entitlement to visit when they please, but at a higher cost.
Another protective layer requires the guest to commit to a minimum timeframe before canceling their membership. Three-month, six-month, and twelve-month commitments are commonly seen across various membership programs that want to serve their guests the best, while also protecting their revenue.
Cost of each additional guest
On average and based on industry, memberships tend to see one visit per three months for people who become members. If you can convert guests who are paying admission once every three months into a membership, it’s a significant revenue driver but does not overwhelm your operational capacity.
Naturally, there are bound to be guests who purchase a membership and then immediately visit 5-10 times per month, but they are the significant minority of members.
What is the cost of someone visiting more regularly? If you operate with a high staff to guest ratio, there likely is not a notable increase in labor or other costs if attendance gets a little boost due to members. In smaller capacity operations, however, such as a rock climbing gym that require more personal attention, a member might be cutting into the revenue that another paying guest would generate. A guest visiting 5-10 times per month will make the membership program less viable because of the lower tipping point.
In addition to the revenue you’re collecting from membership, you now have an opportunity to grow their spending once inside. In industries like trampoline parks, members tend to spend on average an additional $2-$5 per visit, and in industries with a longer length of stay, this number can be substantially higher. The more guests visit, the more opportunities to recommend food & beverage, retail, or other spending options to them once inside. If they visit frequently, they may not spend money on every visit, but they might enjoy a meal, play games, or buy merchandise every so often. This spending can be further influenced by offering discounts for members on all ancillary products.
Keep in mind, all of these components of membership can be significantly beneficial for your business, but only if guests are properly engaged prior to their first visit and the delivery of the experience is successfully executed. If the ticket purchase process is unclear or clunky, you won’t have as many first-time visitors to be able to serve, and if there are friction points in the experience itself, they are less likely to become members.