Martina Bottini has owned Krazy Playdays – Soft Play and Party Centre for nearly ten years. The business is in the heart of Reading, about 60 km from London, and boasts a 200 seat restaurant as well as laser tag, football court, climbing walls, bouncy castles, ball pools, soft play blocks, and much more. A wonderland for toddlers and older kids.
But all that stopped with the government order to close until further notice due to COVID-19. No longer able to offer parties, no lines of kids outside on a rainy day, and no Special Needs night for many children who need a safe place to play. Staff were furloughed, and the door shut.
Martina shares that when they started the business ten years ago, they decided not to do any advertising but rely on community outreach, some flyers inside the play area, and word of mouth. As she explains, they usually get 1-2 birthday party bookings out of every party they host, so what is essential is the face-to-face interaction with their guests – old and young alike. The reliance on word of mouth and reputation explains her philosophy of focusing on the utmost importance of face-to-face interactions with their customers.
Of course, Martina has taken care of her Google My Business listing, and she does have a full website and posts on Facebook, but the goal is communication rather than “selling.” Her staff of 30 are also local and active on social media, but I would suggest that the effort is “relaxed” rather than aggressively pushing for new customers.
While her business will not be eligible to open until July 1st, that hasn’t stopped her thinking about what she can do to reassure customers that the play centre is safe and, perhaps more importantly, to ensure that her employees are safe. It is admirable to hear that she is taking her employee’s health and safety as her priority.
Watch the interview to hear Martina’s own words.
Some ideas that Martina is evaluating include:
- A booking system to stagger the arrival of guests, so there are no long queues to get in as there often was on rainy days
- Full communication on cleanliness across social media, GMB and her website
- App for ordering food in the restaurant
Interestingly, when we discussed using the App for more than ordering food, such as messaging of specials or other services, she was hesitant. She is a person who does not want “intrusive” communication but focuses more on face-to-face. However, in the new “coronavirus normal,” these communication lines will be explored.