In the past several years, entertainment businesses having been popping up all over the United States. To keep up with this increased competition, existing operators have reinvested in order to stay relevant in their marketplace.
Jake’s Unlimited, formerly Amazing Jake’s, was in this exact situation. The business had been a staple in the Phoenix area for years, but newer entertainment competitors opened nearby. Jeremy Hoyum, one of the owners, saw the need for change and began an entire rebrand and remodel of the facility in 2017. This eventually led to the facility winning an IAAPA Brass Ring Award, but let’s first look at Hoyum’s journey and how he got to that point.
Company Goals and Vision
In the beginning of the process, his team doubled down on the goals and vision for Jake’s Unlimited.
“We’re not just button pushers for rides. We provide a needed service to the community and we create a place where people can come and have an experience,” said Hoyum.
During the multi-million dollar renovation process, Hoyum added some brand new attractions. He also had existing attractions, such as laser tag, that needed reinvestment and a facelift.
“Our laser tag arena that we had before was a smaller, older version of laser tag.”
At the time, his laser tag capacity was ten people. With a facility that saw 300,000 guests each year, the small attraction didn’t allow for the throughput Hoyum wanted. More importantly, it didn’t create the memories he wanted for his guests.
With a new laser tag attraction, he wanted, “to create an experience that people talked about, remembered, and wanted to do over again.”
Laser Tag Vendor
When it was time to select a laser tag arena vendor, core values and relationships were important to Hoyum. Not only did he want to work with companies whose core values resembled his own, he wanted people he could depend on. During his career in the entertainment industry, Hoyum had built a relationship with Russ Van Natta, the VP of Sales at Creative Works.
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“Working with Jeremy was extremely enjoyable,” said Van Natta. “We not only were in line on what the guest experience should be, but personally we shared a lot in common. We spent a lot of time talking about how to optimize and maximize the arena. Then we’d digress and find ourselves sharing tidbits from the latest leadership books and industry trends we came across.”
Relationships aside, money is an important part of the equation and Hoyum completed his due diligence in the market.
“I still had to create bids to make sure that everybody was being honest,” added Hoyum. “But at the end of the day, the pricing made sense…I felt like [Creative Works] was our best road for success.”
The team at Creative Works focused on Hoyum’s goals and brought his vision to life. He wanted to incorporate bright and vibrant colors to make the attraction more inviting for female customers. And most importantly, regardless of who played, he wanted them to come back again and again.
“I would say that we for sure accomplished the goal,” commented Hoyum. “Our repeat plays in a day are crazy. It’s our number one attraction now.”
“Everything about the arena was intentional to create a sense of escape and wonder, from the special effects to the larger-than-life robots,” added Van Natta. “We looked at which interactive elements would enhance game play during slow times, and which targets would create the biggest impact. We ultimately decided on blended theme with sci-fi and jungle to provide the kid-friendly natural elements, as well as high tech aspects for adults.”
Hoyum’s facility has an unlimited model where guests pay a single fee and get access to every attraction. Because of this, he can’t necessarily assign revenue values to any particular attraction. Instead he looks at total plays for all attractions and then assigns a percentage of overall revenue based on those numbers.
Before the renovation, the facility was at a $15 per-cap (revenue per capita). Afterwards, with everything they added and enhanced (growing to 95,000 square feet), they increased to a $25 per-cap. There were a lot of variables that impacted this growth, and laser tag was certainly a big factor, especially considering it became his number one attraction.
Hoyum’s Advice to You
If you’re looking to renovate or add attractions to your mix, Hoyum thinks you should focus on the details and high end finishes.
“Those higher end finishes deliver a higher per cap and higher spend for events,” said Hoyum.
Hoyum is happy he didn’t skimp on the finishes for his own facility because they have made a huge impact on the guest experience.
Jake’s Unlimited is getting a lot of industry attention for the success of the renovation. When the facility won the IAAPA Brass Ring Award for Top Family Entertainment Center of the World in 2018, it was validation that Hoyum was doing something right.
“It’s a win-win to where we’re able to create more jobs and influence the young lives of the people that work with us. And at the same time we’re creating experiences that people aren’t going to forget.”
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