Category Archives: Family Fun

Don’t Let Covid-19 Scare Off Fun

The pandemic has been a trying time for everyone but it has deprived kids of so many things that are part of being a kid.  Even though restrictions are starting to ease in some areas, the lost memories will not be retrieved and new memories will take on a different look.

Kids are no longer begging to be able to be on the computer or iPad but rather begging to play with their friends and go to school.  

Kids have a long list of 2020 disappointments that include:

  • Not getting to play with their friends
  • Not attending school in person
  • Limited or no hugs and kisses from Grandma and Grandpa
  • Interrupted sports
  • Interrupted bowling fun
  • No celebration
  • Not attending friends’ birthday parties
  • Attending the movies in person
  • Halloween

Don’t let Halloween be added to this list of disappointments for children for 2020.  If the pandemic has taught us one thing, it has taught us to think differently and try things we have never tried before.  Review your current state and local guidelines to make sure your planning is compliant and every effort is being made to provide a safe alternative to traditional Halloween festivities.  Above all, make sure your marketing is clear about what measures are being taken to host a safe, yet fun event. 

So how can you spread a little fun to kids, in spite of the pandemic?  At BES Xtras we like to think BIG and shoot for the moon so here are some suggestions:

Plan a Halloween Bash and get the entire community to join the fun.  Reach out to other businesses in the community to participate and help sponsor the event. 

Start by turning your parking lot into a fun contest and the starting point for a safe trick or treat environment for the community.  Invite other businesses to participate.  Sponsors can be required to pay a fee to participate and will be required to provide “loot” for “trunk or treaters” that should include both candy or other tokens and a coupon of some sort, along with a decorated vehicle or booth.  In return, businesses that participate can be offered digital advertising at the center in the form of MMS, monitor and/or touchscreen advertising, depending on center capabilities.  In center digital advertising offers great exposure for sponsors and is a win/win solution for both parties.

Families are encouraged to decorate their vehicles and provide treats to the “trunk or treaters”.   Prizes will be awarded for most original/creative vehicle.  Per child admission can be charged.  A “trunk or treat” can be planned using every other parking space and directional stickers that serve as a reminder of the flow of traffic and to remain 6 feet apart.

Start the event in the parking lot and then set up trick or treat stations throughout the facility.  Providing a safe, fun alternative to door-to-door trick or treating is a great way to expose the community to all that your center has to offer.  Use floor stickers to direct the flow of traffic to adhere to physical distancing. 

Other fun can include:

  • Contests such as most creative facemask and/or costume.   
  • Interactive Games such as pin the horns on the monster or tail on the black cat.  Consider blindfolds with center logo and 2020 Halloween Bash that can be kept by the participants as a souvenir.  Another fun game is throw the rubber rats into the cauldron.  Have various lines for different ages.  Remember to sanitize the rats after each attempt. 
  • Offers to encourage food and beverage sales.  This can include food specials, unique adult drinks or consider including a kiddie size drink and snack with admission.

The center should not only provide candy and small tokens but would also give out specially designed Halloween Passes to drive participants back to the center.  Deliver the goodies and vouchers in a safe, unique and fun way by packaging them in a clear plastic bag and hanging them with clothespins from a clothesline hung at  “kid level”.  Kids can simply walk by and pick their treat.  Or, how about creating decorated PVC “candy chutes”.  This is a quick, easy and fun way to distribute goodies and adhere to physical distancing rules.  Create a PVC chute with PVC large enough to hold the clear plastic bags of goodies. Yep…a little like a ball return for goodies.  Mark the magic spot the kids need to stand on the parking lot to receive their treats with a fun sticker.  Of course, you can also require gloves to be worn by those distributing the goodies.

Additional ideas for the month of October:

  • Provide each league bowler with a book of Halloween vouchers (padded in books of 50) that they can give out to their trick or treaters instead of candy. 
    • These will be provided as a way of saying “thanks for being a league bowler”. 
    • Additional books can be sold. 
    • These vouchers are a great way to bring in new kids. 
    • Vouchers can be customized to include age restrictions, expiration date or other desired disclaimers.  Remember, don’t let the negatives overshadow the positives with too many disclaimers and restrictions.
    • Vouchers can be time based or game based.
    • Be sure to set the vouchers up in your POS system so you can track how many are redeemed, as well as how many shoes are rented and additional bowling is purchased. 
    • A customizable voucher can be downloaded below.
  • Set HalloPin as the default environment to get customers in the Halloween spirit.
  • Set up the Virtual Red Pin (we like to call it the “bloody red pin” or the “Crimson Creeper”) and if customer strikes they get a visit to the cauldron filled with goodies.
  • Have a Match The Monster Night or plan a contest for the entire month.  We have even included some collateral to get you started below as well as a Program Overview to help be successful.
  • Provide young guests with Monster Factory coloring sheets and crayons (crayons can even be branded with center logo by simply adding a clear sticker to the boxes). This can be part of a contest or simply recognition for younger guests when their “masterpiece” is publically displayed.  (Dedicate a wall or partial wall inside the center or go digital and create a page on the center website to scan and give recognition.)  Download the monster coloring pages below.
  • How about Monster Madness Bingo?  The more parts you match, the more you WIN!

Just because the pandemic has made havoc the new norm in our lives doesn’t mean the fun has to stop.  Be creative and continue providing magical memories to your customers.  Nothing seems too far-fetched these days.  Have a brainstorming session with the staff and see what fun ideas they can come up with.  Having a Halloween Bash can be just as fun for the employees as the community so why not give it a try?  Don’t let Halloween be added to the list of disappointments for 2020 but instead be added to the list of memorable moments that sets your center apart (he one that brought in the most new customers).

Complimentary material provided by QubicaAMF Virtual Marketing Manager Program.  Additional material available to registered clients.

Customizable Halloween Vouchers with option Birthday Party back

Match the Monster Contest Overview and marketing collateral

Monster Factory coloring sheets and pin decorating contest

Monster Madness Bingo

Halloween Animated Ads

Need a little help getting back to business? 

QubicaAMF Virtual Marketing Manager Program

We would love to hear how we are doing? Please leave your comments below.

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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