World's top FECs and the Guest Experience

4 Guest Experience Tips from the World's Top FECs

Yosuke Carter
Apr 23, 2019 9:06 AM

Hey there, sports fans! 

If you enjoy watching world-class athletes perform at the top of their game, this is an exciting time for you. Fresh off a historic NCAA men's college basketball championship game and Tiger Woods winning his 5th Masters, we are just getting started with the playoffs at the professional level in basketball—and hockey.

I'm a fan of sports because it not only entertains and brings people together, it teaches us valuable lessons in leadership, teamwork, and culture.

For those who love the game, watching the competition and performance helps us to see what's possible and what every athlete should aspire to become.


The same holds true for any business owner. The most successful ones appreciate and emulate what the best-in-class companies are doing.

In the amusement industry, the gold standard is IAAPA's coveted Brass Ring Award for Top FEC of the World. 

The winning facilities are judged based on information submitted, Cause Related Marketing, as well as an evaluation from a professional mystery shopper based on the following criteria:

  • Pre-visit phone call
  • Website review
  • General appearance
  • Staff hospitality
  • Cleanliness
  • Landscaping
  • Attractions
  • Food quality
  • State of repair
  • Safety
  • Service received

Since the finalists and winners are judged heavily based on a guest's point of view, it's safe to say that these FECs are at the top of their game with the guest experience.

Here are the winners from North America from the past three years:

2016 - Scene 75

2017 - Big Thrill Factory

2018 - Jake's Unlimited

Here are 4 lessons the top FECs can teach us about the guest experience:

1. They make a great first impression on their website.

Studies show that it takes 50 milliseconds (0.05 seconds) for website visitors to form an opinion about whether they're going to stay or leave.

The top FECs use great design in their logo, main image or video on the home page, and headline to shape a positive initial experience. As many of you know, it's the attention to detail that separates a good experience from a great one.

Scene 75's main video on home page

2. They guide guests through the sales process.

Your website is your best sales rep. However, there is a huge difference between a used car salesman who pushes products and an inbound sales professional who is helpful and builds lasting relationships.

While traditional marketing and sales is transactional where the goal is to get new customers, inbound marketing sales is relational and the goal is to create evangelists.

Turning visitors into evangelists

The world-class FECs offer helpful resources in the form of blog posts that speaks to a specific buyer persona. They also demonstrate the use of customer journey mapping in recognizing the fact that some people aren't ready to buy.

Some solid content marketing from Big Thrill


 3. They empathize with guests and help them get the job done.

According to the jobs-to-be-done theory, your guests make purchasing decisions to get a "job" done. Booking parties for their kids is a perfect example. 

Let your guests book parties online

While many owners of FECs don't allow their guests to book online due to changes in their internal processes, the top FECs show they have a deep understanding of the guest's job and offer them to book parties online.

4. They use data and analytics to continuously improve the guest experience.

It's easy to rest on your laurels when you're on top. Just because you won a Stanley Cup one year doesn't mean you stop working out and spend the rest of the year celebrating.

Caps players celebrating

There's always going to be new competition who is hungrier and more determined than you. That's why the high performing organizations keep getting better.

In my conversations with customers who work at the world's top FECs, they are very data-driven and make informed decisions to optimize the guest experience. As a result, they're always learning and improving like teams who consistently win championships.

It's your turn.

Now that you have IAAPA's criteria for selecting finalists and winners of the World's Top FEC, you can step up your game to improve your guest experience.

Keep in mind that the recognition, the increase in brand awareness, and revenue growth comes as a result of your commitment to consistently delivering a winning guest experience.

Click here to download your copy of the 2019 Online Party Booking Study now!

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