How a Soft Opening Sets You Up For Success

The grand opening of a family entertainment center (FEC) is an exciting time for everyone involved. Construction is finished, the attractions are installed and you are ready to open your doors and start providing memorable experiences for your customers.

However, jumping right into a grand opening may not always be the best plan. It’s usually a good idea to test out your operations and attractions prior to a huge grand opening. This way, you can help avoid malfunctioning attractions, frustrated guests and bad customer experiences. A soft opening is a terrific way to give your facility a practice run before your grand opening.

What Is a Soft Opening?

A soft opening is an opportunity to train your staff, test your attractions and get feedback from real customers prior to the grand opening. A soft opening isn’t promoted or advertised and it usually acts as a “test run” for a few days before a planned grand opening. Essentially, you are allowing certain people a sneak peak at what you have to offer.

A week or so before your grand opening, you can open your doors and allow friends, family and local press to explore your facility. The goal is to make sure your attractions are functional and that your employees know how to properly staff all facility operations, including attractions, food and beverage and point-of-sale software.

Benefits of a Soft Opening

  • Ensure attractions are running properly – After your attractions are installed, you can allow real customers to try out the attractions to make sure they run smoothly. An attraction breakdown or malfunction during a grand opening is one of the easiest ways to frustrate customers and prevent them from coming back.
  • Make sure staff are prepared and comfortable – It’s crucial to make sure every member of your staff is comfortable and knowledgeable about their role. A soft opening is an early “stress test” to ensure that employees know how to correctly operate all facets of your facility.
  • Get direct feedback from customers – Comments and feedback from customers is perhaps your greatest asset. Maybe your dining area doesn’t have enough seating or maybe you need brighter lights in your bathrooms. Small comments from attendees can allow you to make quick changes and immediately provide a better customer experience from day one.
  • Build excitement for grand opening – Make sure that all soft open attendees know about your grand opening date. Encourage them to bring friends and family. Establishing your reputation as a receptive and hospitable facility goes a long way in increasing turnout for your grand opening.
  • Free press from media – Inviting local press to your soft opening allows them to experience your facility and start to generate buzz. A key component in early success of your FEC is establishing a strong relationship with local media so that they can get the word out about your facility.

Once you complete a soft opening and take a couple of days to make minor tweaks, your facility will be ready for the grand opening event. You can rest assured that everything is set up for success.