When Pieter Martens – Director of R1 Indoor Karting in Lincoln, Rhode Island – first joined the leisure industry 15 years ago, the world was a different place. Today, with the spread of worldwide internet and cellphone use, a few crises, and a pandemic later, Pieter and his venue, R1 Indoor Karting, are innovators in the leisure industry in the United States.
What started as a single activity go-kart venue, is now a multi-activity FEC that’s fully bookable online.
of bookings are made online
Average order value
of customers added an upsell
Pieter's next challenge was to find a seamless online booking system. This is quite unique in the United States, where most venues still rely on walk-ins. “I'm not a pioneer. I'm not someone who wants to be on the moon first. But looking at other industries, looking how they were able to flip their store to an online store and to make a lot of money. That’s where I made it our goal to sell online in the first place.”
For Pieter, it was all about a flawless journey, and a clean look: “It's really about that flawless online booking experience, I wanted something that online looks so slick, so easy, that I knew if we have that in place there is nothing to blame. What I mean is, when you start doing marketing campaigns, and if people have the willingness to book, it should go very smoothly.”
One of the challenges Pieter had set for himself when he started at R1, was to grow the business and find new ways to innovate the venue. One of the ways to grow was to add new activities next to go-karting like axe throwing and arcade. “The thrill of racing will always be there. Because of things like limiters on cars and even self-driving cars becoming a thing, people are less likely to touch a steering wheel or throttle themselves. I think go-karting will never die. But, we surround that with other activities.” The latest added activity is called TimeZone and is a personal favorite of Pieter. It is an immersive gaming experience with 25 rooms, called Portals, for teams of 2-5 people. The goal is to score points by playing exhilarating, mind-bending games.
"We charge for 100% of the activities on the day they book it online [...] So by the time the day comes, they forgot about the money they spent two weeks ago. So their wallets are full to spend even more."
Before R1 Indoor Karting tried online scheduling and booking, only social parties and groups of eight or bigger were able to pre-book. Usually, on a Saturday, this was at max. 30-40%. The rest of the guests were walk-ins.
The current situation is a very different one. If you don't have your booking in for Saturday by Friday afternoon, you’re probably too late. By that time, R1 is completely booked out. Knowing when you can expect your customers is one of the key benefits for Pieter: “The biggest gain for me personally? Yeah, it’s predictability.”
The weather also doesn’t affect the venue the same as it used to. “When it's sunny, and people don't really want to go to an indoor activity. If you pre-booked two weeks before, and you have to have a very good reason in order to get a refund, you will go.”
Pieter’s staff still has to explain the pre-bookings sometimes, but in general, people react well, because there are no waiting times. When people do arrive without a booking while the venue is fully booked, they usually book for the week after on the spot.
This comes with a financial upside: “We charge for 100% of the activities on the day they book it online. So we already get the money in before they're here. So by the time the day comes, they forgot about the money they spent two weeks ago. So their wallets are full to spend even more.”
One of the reasons R1 Indoor Karting chose Briq to take care of their online bookings is that the product itself is customer-oriented. “I think in the first and foremost, what Briq has is a customer-oriented flow. It's all very easy, it's clean, there is no clutter. That's part I think, is the most important.” But according to Pieter, this is not where the focus on customers stops.
The Briq team and the company as a whole took a big part in his decision: “The second thing is, with Briq, I'm not buying a product, I see the people that are behind the product. And all the experience that they bring along, will eventually translate into the product. I don't have too many demands on the product side. I know because you have all these talents that are behind it that in the end, in a dialogue with us that the product will be fantastic.”