KIDS KNOW BEST!
Last week we spoke with Brian Radle, President of the Kannapolis Intimidators. In talking with Brian we learned how he took his son’s autism and created Cam’s Clubhouse, a sensory friendly space at the ballpark. His mission was not only to make it easier and more enjoyable for families with special needs to attend a game but Brian mentioned that throughout the years he saw how attending games helped make Cam more comfortable at other public places. The bigger picture for him is making that happen for more families.
It got me thinking about what I've learned from my kids...
For starters, Brain pointed out that it’s human nature that you don’t realize or understand things until they affect you. So true, right? Having children changed my perspective on what I do, where I go, and my perception of everything. As a mother of 3 boys, I love family bathrooms, I know where all of the clean bathrooms are and judge places accordingly. When I had a 3, 2 and a newborn baby, “Parents with Toddlers” parking was the greatest thing I had ever encountered.
Here are things I have learned and realized being a mom with some ideas to go along with them:
The Dum Dum lollypop is like gold. They have gotten me through grocery shopping and helped kids recover from shots. Consider supplying ushers with them. They can quietly offer them to parents who were perhaps scared to sneak them in but don’t want to leave the game yet.
Parking….for strollers. Valet park and label them. If you can’t guarantee that everyone with small kids can park close guarantee them a spot to safely abandon their strollers.
It takes my family 3 games to make it 9 innings. My kids can NOT sit that long. Adults stretch their legs in the 7th inning, kids need this earlier. Create a fun reason for kids to get out of their seats in the 3rd/4th inning. Let them do hula hoops, the limbo, duck duck goose with your mascot, actual stretching/ yoga, or an organized dance. I bet they’ll want a snack after. This buys the parents more time and just sold you a concession item.
Kids love to make art and want to display it. Have coloring pages and an art station at ballpark. Email coloring pages. Use your mascots, logos, even upcoming promotional images. Kids will color, craft and parents will display the art in their homes.
Kids love “Treasure” especially when it comes from a Treasure chest. Fill a neat looking box with stickers, pencils, bracelets…CHEAP STUFF. Kids can earn them by attending a kids club event, pick something out with a BandAid if they get a boo boo at the ballpark. Bad moments are fixed and good moments get better.
My kids love when they know something that I don’t. Create a secret handshake for your kids club.
REMEMBER: No child is the same. Some kids LOVE mascots, Some FEAR them more than going to the doctor. Some love music, some are fearful of the noise. Some love the actual baseball game. It’s simple, kids are just young people. When you think about adult fans you know they come for varying reasons- same with kids…remember to engage them in various ways. I have 3 kids and they love games for different reasons.
In an earlier interview, Tim Restall said he treats the ballpark like a restaurant. Pondering this, do you have a few high chairs on hand OR booster seats? Boosters would be great to eat but also in your main seating. Movie theatres have booster seats.
More about Bathrooms: I went to Legoland and each stall was wrapped with a different lego character. Suddenly the bathroom was as much “fun” as the rest of the place. Their sinks were lower. If you can’t do that, supply stools. The kid urinal/ small potty is great too. Kids like to do things themselves. Lastly, make sure you clean your changing tables!!!!
Create places and reasons for parents to take photos of / with their kids. My kids are vain. I think all kids are. They want to look at photos of themselves. I sometimes think they have amazing memories but really they are constantly looking back at pictures and then ask to repeat fun activities. This is great! Have a sign that they can stick their head through or pose next too, encourage mascot photos. Kids will look back and ask to return.
Every “Kid's Place” makes me exit through a store…and I’m often a sucker. Can you make your fans exit through your store if you have one? Perhaps create a reason by putting a mascot in there in the post game.
Kids love to celebrate and make a big deal about things. Be the coolest place to celebrate a birthday even if their party isn't there. Have a button or balloon or special opportunity to meet a mascot. Celebrate first games, lost teeth, A’s in school. Celebrate!!!! It’s fun!!
The most important thing to know about kids is they love being kids. The world hasn’t made them skeptical. Give them something to believe in. Create ballpark magic, traditions, deliver excitement, have fun. They are natural fans. When you do this you capture a new fan for life and the parent of that child too if you hadn’t captured them already.