Guest Column - September 2011
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Foodservice & Concessions

Make Dollars and Sense Out of Concessions

By Bethe Ferguson


In the News

A positive story or customer testimonial is one of the best, free ways to get in front of customers. Local newspapers are often hungry for topics, but be sure to stay on the side of news and not just a blatant advertisement for your company. Examples of "press worthy" stories are:

  • Promotions and awards
  • Story with fun facts or interesting historical points
  • Anniversaries or milestones
  • New programs
  • Anything that is free
  • New-to-your-community events

Your next step is to ensure there is a catchy headline and your first few sentences entice the reporter. Also, try to have a contact rather than a general e-mail to ensure it is read and gets to the right person. Lastly, many reporters now prefer press releases through e-mail, so be sure the subject line piques interest and doesn't wind up in a spam filter.

Create a Photo Sharing Page

Your current customers are your best, free advertisements. Ask families to upload photographs on your Web site or Facebook page. Create categories like "Your Favorite Snack Time Treat" that feature guests enjoying your concession products. Everyone loves to share their fun, family experiences, and it will introduce their friends to your facility.

Then, you can take a page from other big-name companies and hold a competition for a new poster child/family to display at your snack bar and in promotions. Just look at Gerber's recent Facebook campaign: The ongoing competition has more than 156,000 entries. Now, think about all the countless impressions Gerber will get on top of that as families post it to their friends, and family/friends are encouraged to vote once a day.

Bring Customers to the Stands

Once your guests are at the facility, marketing becomes more about encouraging them to buy more through attractive advertisements and offers. Try sampling during peak hours. It's a small investment, thanks to the low food costs of most fun foods, yet it has a big payoff.

Create flashy advertisements that also appeal to children and teens. Mascots, bright colors and guest photos ease people into the sale and emphasize the fun in fun foods. And remember, people often spend with their eyes, so be sure to include yummy photos of your food.

You can also add fresh twists on concession classics. For example, top ice cream sundaes with caramel corn, try new chocolate caramel apple dip that has zero trans fats, add ice cream to create slush floats, or kick up the heat by adding a hot flavor additive to popcorn or frosted nuts.

Lastly, encourage repeat business by giving away coupons for the next purchase. This can be a discount or a buy-one-get-one-free deal.