Choosing a Children’s Indoor Role & Soft Play Booking system – cheap, quick, easy, effective

Need a beautiful, quick and easy booking system and website for indoor play venues, soft play / role play or sensory room? Need to increase sales or reduce costs? Read our booking system blog below to learn about generating brilliant customer experiences and how that leads to more profit.

Purchased an item on Amazon via a mobile device recently? You can simply click ‘Buy Now’ and then after a quick swipe to confirm, it will automatically be paid for and on its way. By contrast, one of our team recently tried to book a family leisure activity. Twice in the booking process they clicked the prominent ‘reset’ button instead of the smaller ‘continue’ button. Each time it was another 6 clicks to simply choose the play session. Then like a small sledge hammer to enthusiasm, you were forced to create an account and make up a complex banking level password. Once that was complete you had to choose another option and then click again to get to the payment window. Then, before they finally paid they wanted to check the time they were booking, but it didn’t show it on screen and wouldn’t let you go back. So they gave up and had a cup of tea instead. No-one likes fussiness. We have seen a lot of indoor play website booking systems in our time; disjointed badly designed and bossy websites put off customers. If you have an indoor play website with more than a few clicks to purchase, then you probably regularly have people giving up on booking. You may want to ask us, or your own developer, to give it a makeover (we have software on our sites that let us see where customers stop their booking so we can adjust things and turn website visits into website sales).

Here’s our top tips and insider knowledge:

1. Customer Experience matters: The booking system needs to be intuitive, flexible and easy to use. But, it also needs to be worthwhile. If the first thing a customer experiences of your business is a clunky slow confusing booking system, it just leads to grumpy customers before they even walk in the door. Make their first experience a good one and they will arrive on site happy.

2. Good Customer Experience Generates More Sales. A professional ecommerce provider will make you more money that it costs to run. A cheap booking system will cost you in lost sales, it really is as simple as that. A good booking system is like a good efficient polite salesperson who sells your product well, turns inquiries in to sales, targets the right product to people at the right time and takes money effortlessly. It makes people come to play during the quiet times, upsells extras and makes their customer experience so much better. The salesperson needs to be dressed appropriately, talk appropriately and know when to convert an inquiry to a sale. A good booking system does this and uses payment providers that charge only small fees (around 0.5%). Basic generic booking systems can have the basic functionality but not work in the way that gets the extra sales or are limited to using expensive card payment providers (1.5%). Often you have to spend more money to earn more money. I’ve seen so many people use generic 3rd party booking systems, like them at first and then realise that it just isn’t working for them, either it keeps failing, they can’t adjust the things they want to and they can’t change it. Why would a generic booking system used by a hairdresser also be perfect for an indoor play venue… it won’t be.

3. A good booking system is great for you and your staff. It’s not just about selling tickets; it’s helping customers arrive on-time ready to play, happy, and aware of the rules you want them to follow. If your customers often phone to say they are lost, or don’t bring socks or think paying £5 to enter means they can bring a cake and candles or a Happy Meal in with them, then you are definitely experiencing the rich tapestry of life that we call ‘customers’. They take up your time to manage, and can leave bad reviews online, all of which costs you money. But a well thought out website and booking system experience stops these things happening by making people aware of what is expected from them before they arrive. We used to talk about a ‘Rule of 3’ , which is now a little awkward with the PMs new Rule of 6…..but the rule of 3 was to tell people important information 3 times during the booking process. After the 3rd time, the information sticks.

4. It should make you more money. A good booking system will take customers money 24 hrs a day, 7 days a week, sell gift vouchers (which may or may not be used), answer questions so customers don’t have to call, but…..most importantly, it turns ‘I might visit’ customers into ‘I will visit’ customers. Do you have a peak of visitors at 11am?….. a good booking system absolutely will make some of these arrive earlier and later, helping make best use of the capacity throughout the whole day. Finally, we have mentioned ‘booking experience’. We absolutely believe a booking system is not just the software; it is the right words, the colours, the pictures, the flow of pages, the pricing, the add-ons….it’s the complete experience that makes people choose whether to spend or not. Why do Disney play music in their theme parks? Because it adds to the experience and makes you feel happy to spend more money and want to visit again.

Looking for a indoor play e-commerce site and want to know how much it costs? We make great booking systems for indoor play venues, and because we run a play venue ourselves and work with other venue owners, and because one of our Directors is a board member of the Association of Indoor Play, we know really well what owners need and want, rather than what an e-commerce provider thinks you need/want. Remember, you get what you pay for…… If you buy cheap, you get generic, you get minimum time or effort and you get a solution that is designed to be rolled out en-masse and your business has to be made to fit their system. If you lose just one £25 order every day due to a poor system, that’s over £9,000 a year in lost sales. We suggest you budget £3-5k for a quality e-commerce site. What do you get for that….. well with us you get someone who has walked your journey, who knows your customers and how they think and how to make more of them give you money, who spends time with you learning everything about your business, who makes sure your website has good security to protect you from prosecution and your customer from harm, who develops a solution that is right for you, who makes it feel like an integral part of your business dream, who spends as long as you need training on the system, who tracks how every single customer uses the site in order to increase sales and works hand in hand with you for as long as it takes. Get in contact and find out more. As AIP members we really do love to hear from other owners, current or new to the indoor play community.

Don’t want a quote but want to use all our experience to help in other areas…. have a look here…/open-a-role-play-centre…/

You can read more of our blogs at   and discover more about how we work with brilliant people to open and grow their own role play venues here.