Category Archives: Birthday Parties and Kids

Best Birthday Parties in Town

Birthday parties are big business!  They’re probably the number one group event that the center hosts, year in and year out.  Does your center have the reputation for having the best birthday parties in town?  Are your birthday parties exceeding expectations?  Is the experience your center is offering making it to social media for all the right reasons?  If not, it’s time to make it happen!  

With BES X, you can create a unique and personalized experience that customers are willing to pay top dollar.  However, you need to make sure your staff is aware of expectations and are executing parties properly.  Make sure you deliver the true value of your parties by showcasing the features you have at your fingertips!

To deliver an exceptional experience for all your birthday guests consistently, you need to start by creating the right offerings.  Make sure party packages are inclusive, easy to understand and offered at the right price point.  Shop around.  What are other birthday party venues offering?  What are they charging?  What are their reviews?  Be mindful of how limitations and restrictions are positioned, as a list of negatives is an immediate turn off. Remember that small celebrations are popular as a result of Covid-19 restrictions so don’t forget to have options for everyone’s needs.  Many centers have started offering an option for parties to be shared and recorded on zoom to allow for restrictions or concerns of some guests.  Definitely something to consider for additional revenue.

Staff is another key element to delivering an exceptional birthday experience.  Hiring the right candidates to delight your guests is always important but birthday party host or hostess, or as we prefer to call them, an Ambassador of Fun, plays a key role in the party success.  Personality should definitely be considered.  The best candidates should be fun, spunky and have the patients to serve children, all while being attentive to parents or party organizers whose expectations are to have the perfect party for their child.  Candidates should fully understand their job responsibilities and commit to delivering exceptional experiences.  This is a critical role in the center.  Be clear with expectations and provide the Ambassadors of Fun with the tools they need to deliver an over the top experience.

A child’s birthday is a very special day for the parent/grandparent/party organizer and if the experience is what they expected or better yet…better than what they expected price is secondary.  It’s all about the experience from beginning to the end.  They want only the best for their child.  By having a dedicated host or hostess, or Ambassador of Fun as we prefer to call them, allows the party organize to relax and enjoy the party too, while every single detail is being handled by the Ambassador of Fun.

Encourage host or hostess to come up with a signature touch they can add to the parties they deliver.  For example, balloon animals, a special game or their own birthday song.  With social media being such a great way to get exposure, how about having each Ambassador of Fun make a photo frame (of course including the center name and website) and offer to take a group photo of the party guests or a special frame for the guest of honor?  Parents LOVE sharing pictures on social media and this is a fun way to remind them to share the party with their friends.  How about a fun game of Bingo?  Encourage Ambassadors of Fun to create their own cards using elements of the party or even ways to get to know party guests.  Need a little help with ideas?  See our “Get To Know You” bingo cards and instructions below.  Use these as a source of inspiration or add your logo and you’ve got an additional activity for party guests and an ongoing reminder for guests of the great party they attended.

As you can see, there are many things that go into delivering a great experience.  What elements can be added from the lanes?  BES X has many features to help you create WOW Birthdays.  These unique features will generate awesome word of mouth advertising AND ways to increase party revenue, get spin off parties and increase open play by getting guests and families back to the center.  Little things add up to make a BIG difference. 

Birthday Welcome Screens – Personalized welcome screens set the tone for a great event.  Welcome screens can be a photo of the guests of honor or customized with one of 12 birthday backgrounds available in the BES X Marketing Kits. This is one of the must-haves for a great party. 

LED Color Effects – Are you using this feature for your birthday parties?  Especially when you have multiple parties at once, you can easily differentiate between parties by giving each one a different color.  It is also a great way to direct guests to the correct party.   

Birthday Photo Capture – This feature is available with Oceano, Fairy Tales, Prehistorica, Birthday, and Bowlopolis environments.  Take a picture of the birthday child and insert them into the fun.  The kids love being part of the party!  This is a feature that adds value to birthday parties and should be showcased on the marketing material.  This personalized service creates a unique selling point for your center and great photo opportunity for the parent to share on social media with their friends.  In fact, the Ambassador of Fun should remind the parent to be on the lookout for their child’s picture and even suggest the tagline.  My child made it to the big screen at (name of center) or something clever they can post with the image.

Monster Factory – Incorporate this feature into the last 15 or 20 minutes of party time (time may vary depending on how quickly the guests are bowling.  Allow enough time for each guest to build a monster.  At the end of the party, present each child with their take-home creation!  Character Factory can be incorporated into parties in the same manner for older children or adults.  Be sure to print each and distribute at the end!

Birthday Wheel – Keep the party lively by adding a little fun with Birthday Wheel.  This visually captivating feature chooses a lucky person at random to be a winner.  Prizes can be provided by party organizer or provided by center.  A nice “congratulation” bounce back voucher is always well received.

People don’t outgrow the desire to feel celebrated or special on their birthday.  Don’t forget to offer party options for all ages.  Everyone likes to have fun on their special day and bowling is the perfect activity that can be enjoyed by all.  Actively market birthday parties and make the experience one that will earn your center the reputation of having the best parties in town.  Take a look at your birthday party program…do you have room for improvement? 

We’re here to help.  If you need assistance revamping your party program, our customized Virtual Marketing Manager Program might the answer you’ve been looking for.  For more information on the program, send an email to and let us get you on the road to securing your reputation of having the best parties in town!!

Get to Know You Bingo Cards and Instructions

This fun activity is executed by the AOF and is a great way for guests to learn a little more about each other and keep them entertained while waiting to bowl.  Selection of 4 cards and instructions are provided.

Ambassador of Fun Acknowledgement

Cool Things We’re Seeing and Hearing Regarding Reopening

There is one thing we can all agree upon and that is that the pandemic has had a huge impact on our lives and businesses. It has forced centers to evaluate every aspect of the business in order to be smarter, more efficient, take advantage of every opportunity and get revenue back on track. However, it has also sparked a lot of creativity and aggressive marketing.


Mid-week sweepers

  • Pick days that could use a boost and plan during normal league time slot to make it attractive for traditional league bowlers and get new bowlers attracted to that slot in hopes they will join a fall league.
  • Feature different formats- Baker doubles, Scotch doubles, Handicap doubles or trio with cap averages.
  • Mix it up! Use games to keep everyone engaged, from the most experienced to the least. From classic games like no tap or 3-6-9 to more creative ones offered in BES X. The possibilities are unlimited…be creative.
    • Head Hunter
    • Last Pin Standing
    • Low Game
    • Best Frame
    • Best Ball
    • Odds & Evens
    • Even Better
    • Odd Duck
  • Do not forget to approach vendors for prizes or contributing in some way. Often times, beer and liquor distributors are looking for venues to do promotions and this makes a nice addition to sweepers.
  • Myrtle Beach Bowl is having tremendous success with Sweepers and they are seeing new faces and more money in the register. What better results can one ask for?

Flex leagues

  • COVID-19 has turned schedules upside down. Many people are taking on new or additional jobs, working from home and juggling taking care of kids. Having a routine weekly schedule is often very rare.
  • Bowlers can come in any time Monday – Sunday to bowl their games. Restrictions can apply, if desired.
  • Points are earned for participation each week and for each person they beat each week or perhaps there is another way you think YOUR customer would like…don’t be afraid to put a new twist on an old idea. You might just be surprised at the response and results!
  • A flex league is a great format for merchandise. How about putting new equipment or branded merchandise in the bowler’s hands?


Fun Size Parties

  • Some customers are not quite ready to socialize with friends and family outside their household but are ready for a little fun.
  • Offer Fun Size parties for up to 6 and pull out all the stops, just like you do with traditional parties.
  • This offering will be attractive to bowlers that would otherwise choose to stay home.

Private time

  • Cater to the needs of the particular audience. Play oldies music or Disney favorites on the radio.
  • By reservation only time for Senior Citizens.
    • Play oldies music
    • If early morning, have donuts and pastries available in the in the restaurant or snack bar.
  • By reservation only time slot for families with small children.
    • Play mom approved music.
    • Offer kid friendly snack and meal options.
    • Make it fun. Utilize Lucky Train or Lane Lotto for fun prizes.
  • Some centers are offering these times outside of normal operating hours.


  • Masks are not people’s favorite accessory these days but they are necessary to flatten the COVID-19 curve so we might as well have a little fun with them.
  • Since masks cover up one of the most unique characteristics of people, their smile, have a contest with the employees to design their facemask to best reflect their personality.
  • How about a contest for the most original facemask?
  • Consider having a Facebook contest encouraging customers to post their coolest masks and the mask with the most votes, wins a pizza party at the center.
  • Many centers are purchasing branded masks as part of the employee uniforms. Consider using these custom masks as prizes at the sweepers.


  • An hour of free bowling for the class of 2020. Not only does this expose the center to potential new customers but can help to generate food and beverage revenue.
  • Free frontline workers event
  • Andrew, at Bowl-O-Rama in Portsmouth, hosted three evenings that included 2 hours of bowling, shoes, a slice of pizza and fountain drink. The center was featured on the local television news, radio and in the newspaper. This community goodwill was amazing and resulted in free advertising and spread the news by word of mouth that they are safe and open for business.
  • This was also done at Strikes and Spares in Mishawaka who had two, by reservation only events and they were both full. They had participation from many of their vendors. The event was planned prior to the first day of reopening their center. They too, enjoyed free media coverage and even received emails and letters from those attending, giving testimonials as to how much fun it was and how much it the event was appreciated. Home run!!!


  • Be clever and get free advertising. I recently observed a group of young adults standing outside a Bowl and Barrel location taking pictures of something on the window and either texting or posting it on social media. They were laughing and having a good time talking about whatever this was. As I got closer I understood what had captured their attention…a very clever marketing sign that read “We’re back with the Cleanest Balls in San Antonio. Okay, get your mind out of the gutter”. I’m quite sure that between the 5 young adults in this group, it would be easy to say this sign was seen by over 1000 people. Be creative with your marketing. You never know what might take off and go viral. Another shout out to Bowl and Barrel for their Very Merry Unbirthday program which offers 1 hour of bowling for missed birthdays during the COVID-19 shutdown. Clever!!
  • Approach reopening the center as if you were opening for the very first time. Be aggressive in getting new business. Don’t assume everyone knows the center is in town and what you offer. Create relationships with other business owners and help one another grow. Have a dedicated plan and do not deviate from it, no matter if business goes back to normal or not. There is always room in the cash register for more money.


  • Use QR Codes on stationary marketing material to introduce customers to specials/options/menu/features/guidelines to avoid customers having to touch promotional material. Most smartphones will scan the code automatically and take the customer directly to the message.
  • Offer center parking lot for local food distribution. Provide each food recipient with a voucher for an offer in the center.
  • Having trouble getting customers to abide by the social distancing floor stickers? Put numbers of the floor stickers and randomly call out numbers for prizes. This will bring attention to the stickers and encourage people to stay on the sticker.
  • John Mc Carthy, of Kingpin Lanes, who was recently a panelist on a webinar, shared that he took blue painters tape, and taped out a square box on the concourse and designated the area for personal equipment. This helped free up the obstacles that might otherwise jeopardize customers trying to abide with social distancing. This can also be an opportunity to sell sponsorships and have the dedicated area identified with floor stickers containing advertisement. They also removed all the house balls from the concourse to free up space, put them in a dedicated room when they are sanitized and made ready for the next customer.
  • Some centers that are doing reservations only are taking cell phone numbers and asking customers to text when they arrive and the center will let them know when their lane is cleaned and ready for the fun to begin. This can also be a good way to gather mobile numbers to start a text message program. Remember to have the customer opt in prior to sending text messages.

These are just a few of the things centers have done upon reopening that are unique. The emphasis on a clean experience is something that will help change the negative image that many still have of bowling alleys and should be continued long after the pandemic is over. Going forward, customers are going to be much more aware of cleanliness and have higher expectations as a result.

Let’s hope that the aggressiveness, creativeness and eagerness to think outside the box doesn’t end when the pandemic does. Let’s keep the momentum going and not only get back to Pre Covid-19 numbers, but exceed them.

Keep up the great work!

We’d love to hear some of the creative things your center is doing to get back on track! Leave your ideas and best practices below.

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