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Playful Prosperity: Nurturing Growth in Your Play Center Business

Playful Prosperity: Nurturing Growth in Your Play Center Business

Play centers aren’t just about fun (though there's loads of that) – they’re vital spaces that help kids grow, think creatively, and, importantly, escape screens for some old-fashioned playtime. When it comes time to take your play center business or enterprise to the next level, there is a load to consider, so we’ve compiled this guide to give you a solid strategy for sliding into success. 

The play center landscape: audiences and opportunities 

Growth begins with understanding your primary audience. Children's needs and interests evolve significantly from infancy to pre-teen years. Identifying and segmenting your audience by age allows for the creation of tailored play experiences. For infants and toddlers, sensory play areas that stimulate exploration and motor skill development are key. On the other hand, preschoolers benefit from play that fosters imagination and social skills, while school-aged children might seek more physically challenging and interactive play. Recognizing these nuances enables your play center to cater effectively to its diverse clientele, making it a favorite destination across age groups.

And, of course, the people purchasing admission to your venue shouldn’t be overlooked. A play center that champions the developmental benefits of play, emphasizing its role in nurturing creativity, problem-solving abilities, and social skills, aligns itself with the priorities of parents and caregivers looking for enriching experiences for their children.

Stats and high-performing areas 

IBIS World indicates that ​​consumers who earn between $50,000 and $150,000 are the primary audience for play center businesses. For us to understand how to tap into that market better, here’s a breakdown of revenue across business areas in the average play center: 

  • Food – 30%
  • Admission – 28%
  • Games – 23%
  • Parties – 13%
  • Other – 6% 

Given that we can see where the primary audience is spending their money, IBIS World suggests that the most significant opportunity for play center business growth is upsells and tech. Companies using tech to streamline their services will reap the benefits in an industry with high staff wage costs.

How tech can help play centers capitalize on these opportunities

  • Food – One way to leverage tech to grow the largest service area is through mobile food and beverage ordering. This technology allows guests to order via a QR, reducing labor requirements, increasing spend per head by as much as 33%, and creating easy-to-use modern experiences for visitors. 
  • Admissions – Entry can become an area for growth by improving the online ticket purchase experience. Ensuring guests can explore your play center options and check out online with minimal friction can profoundly impact your bottom line. Not only do smoother experiences result in higher conversion rates, but by selling admissions online, you can better plan ahead and optimize your workforce.  
  • Parties – Despite their smaller slice of the pie, parties remain an incredibly lucrative area that the right tech can propel to the top of your high-earning services. Intuitive party booking software that does all the hard work of organizing large groups can become a cash cow for play centers looking to increase revenue. Think of the difference that ten additional party bookings each weekend could make. 
When you’re running a huge business, you want something that is automated so you don’t have to worry about the small details. ROLLER reduces around 40% of the burden of managing party bookings.
Jospher Nadar
IT Operations Specialist, Chipmunks Playland and Café

Keeping your venue current: Interactive play concepts

A new slide might be cool, but it won’t cause explosive growth for your play center business. So, it’s important to look at innovation as a way to propel your play center business growth. 

Interactive play is a trend that you should look into and capitalize on. Interactive play merges physical activity with cognitive challenges. Think about incorporating these features into your venue: 

  • Augmented reality (AR) treasure hunts.
  • Digital art walls that respond to physical touch.
  • VR exploration of historical eras, space, or alien planets.
  • Interactive, educational play zones that teach science and math through play.

Offering cutting-edge play experiences like these will not only differentiate your center but also align with the expectations of today's youth, offering them a unique blend of learning and fun.

Increase online engagement

Once you’ve got your fancy new attractions, you need to let your audience know about them – which is the perfect opportunity to increase your online engagement. A robust online presence transcends mere marketing; it can create a community for your play center.

  • Utilize social media platforms to showcase daily activities, highlight special events, and share educational content that resonates with parents and educators.
  • Blogs and newsletters can offer deeper insights into child development and play, positioning your play center as a thought leader in the industry.
  • Interactive online platforms also provide a channel for feedback and engagement, allowing you to tailor your offerings to meet your audience's evolving needs and preferences.

Incorporating these elements can be a powerful tool for business growth and position your play center as a leader in the industry. 

Did you know? You can send automated feedback surveys to your guests after their visit. This helps you easily pulse-check how your venue is performing and shows you how to improve the guest experience.

Family-focused events

Events that cater to the entire family can transform your play center from a simple venue into a community cornerstone. These events—from holiday celebrations to themed family nights and educational workshops—foster a sense of belonging among your visitors. 

Throwing awesome events can encourage repeat visitation and word-of-mouth referrals as families share their positive experiences with friends and on social media. Collaborating with local businesses and educators to host these events can further enhance their appeal and reach.

Here are some thought starters for events at your play center:

  • Superhero Saturday: Kids and parents can dress up as their favorite superheroes for a day filled with themed activities and challenges.
  • Pirate day: Treasure hunts, pirate ship play structures, and themed crafts to make everyone feel like they're sailing the high seas.
  • Space exploration: Transform the play center into a galaxy far, far away with space-themed decorations, activities, and educational fun about planets and stars.
  • Dinosaur discovery: A day dedicated to prehistoric adventures, including fossil digs in the sandbox and dinosaur costume parades.
  • Winter wonderland: Even if it's not snowing outside, you can create a frosty fun day with fake snow play areas, snowman building contests, and hot cocoa stations.
  • Jungle safari: Turn the play center into a jungle with animal scavenger hunts, face painting, and jungle gym adventures.
  • Under the sea adventure: Decorate with ocean themes, offer mermaid and pirate dress-up, and have underwater treasure hunts.
  • Storybook land: Invite kids to dress as their favorite storybook characters for a day of storytelling, character meet-and-greets, and themed crafts.

Membership and loyalty programs

Creating value through membership and loyalty programs encourages families to deepen their relationship with your center. Membership options can offer benefits such as unlimited access, priority booking for events, or discounts on parties and merchandise. 

Loyalty programs, rewarding frequent visits or referrals with discounts or free passes, further incentivize engagement. These programs ensure a steady flow of visitors and build a loyal customer base that feels invested in your center.

Did you know?
You can use indoor play center software technology to make managing memberships easier and grow your recurring revenue. 

Since launching our membership program 12 months ago, we have 12,000 active members, generating $2 million in revenue.
Austin Barnes
Director of Marketing, Elevate Trampoline Parks

Staff training for child engagement

The quality of interaction between staff and children can significantly impact the overall experience. Staff trained in child development and engagement techniques are better equipped to create a welcoming, inclusive environment. They play a pivotal role in facilitating play, resolving conflicts, ensuring safety, and enhancing customer satisfaction. 

Ongoing training and professional development opportunities also increase staff satisfaction and retention, ensuring your team remains motivated and skilled.

Facility maintenance and safety

A clean, safe, and well-maintained facility is foundational to the success of a play center. Regular maintenance checks, adherence to safety standards, and clear communication of safety policies to parents are essential. Investing in high-quality, durable play equipment and ensuring that play areas are designed with safety in mind can prevent accidents and injuries. 

If your play center includes physical play areas, such as obstacle courses, climbing walls, or trampolines – you may want to consider collecting digital waivers, which are easy to manage and speed up check-in times. 

Success stories

Let’s learn from some of the best, with case studies from leading play centers. 


Chipmunks Playland and Café operates as a global indoor playground franchise, boasting over 45 locations and employing more than 250 individuals across New Zealand, Australia, and Indonesia. Designed specifically for children up to 11 years old, Chipmunks offers state-of-the-art multi-level play structures equipped with stimulating and interactive features. Additionally, the venues provide dedicated spaces for birthday celebrations and house cafés for guests' convenience.

To replicate their success, you should look at how they’ve turned birthday parties into a powerful money maker through ROLLER.

Read this next: Chipmunks Receives Over 90 Party Bookings in 48 Hours After Implementing ROLLER's Progressive Checkout 

In two days, we received around 90-100 party bookings after switching to progressive checkout. That’s a massive number!
Jospher Nadar
IT Operations Specialist, Chipmunks Playland and Café

Little World

Located in Garden Grove, CA, Little World offers over 18,000 square feet of fun with a variety of slides, play areas for different age groups, a ninja warrior course, and arcade games. It emphasizes safe fun following COVID protocols, ensuring a healthy environment for family bonding and play​​. 

Their mix of activities for different tastes and age groups is worth noting. Especially consider the mixed use of space by incorporating an arcade area for older children. 

Smiley Indoor Playground 

This play center, with two locations in Indianapolis, offers a wide range of activities for all ages, from playgrounds to virtual reality arcades, ensuring there's something for everyone. They also have a café serving treats like pizza, waffle fries, and Thai rolled ice cream, making it a full family experience​​. 

Their wide selection of exciting food for kids could be valuable to replicate. Fun items like Thai rolled ice cream create a sense of spectacle and can be prepared easily by staff – ensuring a powerful upsell stream. 

Let’s play 

Expanding your play center business is a multifaceted endeavor that requires a deep understanding of your audience, innovative play concepts, and strategic online engagement. Play centers can thrive by fostering a sense of community through family-focused events, offering value through membership and loyalty programs, and investing in staff training. 

As we embrace these strategies, let's keep sight of the essence of our mission: to provide spaces where children can explore, learn, and play in enriching and meaningful ways.

Get in touch if you'd like our help in taking your play center to the next level. We work with play centers like yours every single day and offer purpose-built solutions that will suit your needs.