Industry sector: Leisure

Amusement arcade: Customer profile

Your market

Your typical customer will depend to a considerable extent on the type of arcade you propose to operate and where it will be located.

If you are planning to open a family entertainment centre, depending on its location many of your customers will be holidaymakers and a large proportion of these will be families with children, as well as coach parties of day visitors to the area. You may find that your business is so seasonal that it is not even worthwhile remaining open during the winter months, especially on week days. On the other hand you may have lots of regulars as well as holidaymakers so your business won't be as affected by seasonal factors. Family entertainment centres often provide a meeting place for young people and your arcade might prove popular with local teenagers, students and so on.

An adult gaming centre caters for adults only and offers a wide range of Category C and Category D machines as well as a limited number of Category B3/4 gaming machines and, generally, some video machines, although these have become much less popular because of the widespread availability of computer games.

Inland arcades may have different types of customers - for example, during the daytime many players are likely to be female while in the evenings players may consist mainly of young males. Many customers are regulars and demand is generally consistent all year round.

Give some thought to how you will keep your customers coming back, particularly in an adult gaming centre. Regular players soon become familiar with a machine and want something new so you may have to replace games frequently. You will probably find that machines will typically take most money in the first 8 to 12 weeks after they have been introduced. After that, takings start to dwindle. Some games never become very popular, while others remain popular for three or four years. Many arcades plan their machine buying around the government's review of stakes and prizes that takes place every three years. If the majority of your customers are tourists who will visit your arcade only once or twice during their holiday, you may need to replace your machines less frequently.

It is important that you identify what your customers like and then monitor individual machines closely so that you replace them with something new when interest begins to fall off. In many cases machines are replaced after three or six months. Coinslot journal features a machine chart which shows the top ten machines in order of popularity.

Be aware that very many machine players try to obtain free plays, or to gain access to the machine's cash box, by various illicit means. Think carefully about how you will supervise players - when the arcade is crowded it may be difficult for you or your staff to see what players are up to.