Indoor Playgrounds

Indoor playgroundsEspecially in the Anglo-Saxon countries the idea of indoor playgrounds is well known. However all across over Europe and especially in Germany an intensive expansion took place in order to close the gap between offer and demand. In Germany, starting from the Rhine and the „Ruhr District“, which is reflected by the present number of indoor playgrounds in this region, almost 200 playgrounds developed within five years. Looking over the borders to our European neighbors one can only come to the conclusion that every market has found it`s typical solutions, but still has established some typical attractions. Still an absolute definition of an indoor-playground is becoming more and more realizable, so that a clear direction in this market is more likely to be found. The final customers of an indoor playground – children and their companions – will decide on the fact whether the offered play attractions are variously enough, the established atmosphere pleasant enough and whether safety-relevant aspects were settled sufficiently.
First challenges
Apart from the secured financing and the selected location, central obstacles are to be seen in connection with the building and official permissions as well as in a conclusive total concept. Since these subjects interlink strongly, a simultaneous proceeding is advisable. No financing without conclusive total concept, without financing no building and play equipment and without a suitable building no clear conception of the location as well as of the business concept, that has to be adapted to the characteristics of the chosen region. Clearly this circle can present itself differently, depending upon the background of the investor. When for example an existing building is to be restructured, further steps can be derived from this point.
Location and real estate
The choice of the location (regional settlement) for your indoor playground is often set, so that a suitable building must be found there. Commonly restructured and suitable buildings are storage halls, former indoor tennis courts, in addition to exotic buildings like former communal swimming halls. Each of the specified buildings or facilities brings certain pro and cons with it. A former indoor tennis center usually is fully equipped when it comes to catering, kitchen equipment and generous heights within the building and can save costs by using the implemented flooring or surface. In opposite one can find frequently high costs, which result from restrictions of the authorities and/or appropriate regulations. To that extent criteria as kitchen equipment, flooring, wall decorations, room heights, number of parking lots, existing restrooms, etc. should come into the viewpoint for the conversion into a playground. In behalf of the German market it is common not to spend more than ? 5,-/m? for a building almost ready to move in with all the equipment needed; this surely depends on the total conception, the location and as well on the size of your indoor playground. The evaluation of fixed costs and their critical analysis is the first steps tone for a competitive and lastingly successful business model.
Total conception
The total conception is derived from your central desires and criteria that should be embodied by your indoor playground. Within this conception elementary decisions and considerations you have taken during the development process are reflected. During your observations at some existing playgrounds you surely were in favor of some ideas and solutions and rejected others. This own note should be visible in the context of your chosen budget of your investment, so that you can identify yourself with the results. Another goal is to work out appropriate personnel-, flow chart-, floor planning-, and business conceptions, on which you and your guests can agree. Our team would like to recognize these desires and defaults during a common process with you, in order to participate successfully with you in this sympathetic business model.
As the third important component during the conversion process is the procurement of capital, necessary for your concept. Depending on your premises and the location referred criteria, the requirements to an indoor playground and other important parameters for our planning can vary strongly. It proved successful in many cases to distribute the total budget on three parts. Beside own private capital necessary for each investment, construction works as well as other matters of expense can be financed by your accompanying bank and/or loans. Within the European Community our cooperation with different companies offering leasing for indoor structures, has proved to be very successful. This is as much of an advantage as private banks and/or traditional credit institutes hesitate to offer higher investments for start-up’s as well as they try to avoid relatively large liabilities within the leisure range. Economic success is the goal within the framework set by yourself.
As soon as an appropriate building is located and your decision for a conversion has fallen, a rough outlining of your requirements can start. Conformal to your budget a first floor-planning is projected, in order to provide an overview of play value and atmosphere of the premises. Central elements for a lasting success of your enterprise, apart from security aspects and the supply of a interesting mix of attractions, is the customer orientated work of your employees, efficient flow charts as well as the constant planning and control of the enterprise processes. During the detailed planning of the mix of attractions the focus lays on distributing the budget effectively. The selection of the elements should vary in order to offer different challenges for playing children at a different stage of their development. Apart from the question of the expected number of visitors that result from the chosen location and the competitive situation the centre of attention should lay on a suitable attraction-mix. Even in “rush hours” of an indoor playground with a high amount of visitors, children must be given the possibility to have fun and play stress free using different play possibilities. Waiting periods and a lack in playing capacities within an indoor playground should be avoided. The conception of an indoor structure solves this problem with its capacity to let a huge number of children play on a relatively small space. Inside the play-structure, several levels with different activities, interesting paths to run and crawl on, as well as roaring slides, enable a high number of children to play in a safe environment. The advantage of a play structure with it’s efficient way of using space can be conserved by the used materials and in the way of how the structure was built.  Since the play structure is mainly conceived for the 4 to 10 year-old, likewise a suitable toddler must be integrated into a complete playground. This mostly consists of a defined area and various play possibilities for the smallest ones. Here they are able to use small chutes connected to small play structures as well as to play on a soft floor mat with various Lego elements and other soft components High-quality trampolines with generous jump fields invite children and adults to explore their motoric abilities. A substantial fun factor under calculable risk is obtained by the quality of the used materials and the usage of soft foam mats. Beyond that children become acquainted with their coordination, and must get to know their ability to estimate risks in a sportive action. The attraction an indoor playground has to offer is rounded off by using a cart track. By paying a relatively small fee for the use, noticeable auxiliary incomes are generated. Due to the first possibility for children of steering a vehicle without using own muscle power these vehicles come with a high acceptance Because of their relatively small investment and the formative variety through individual adjustments, big bouncy castles supplement the indoor playground offering another high capacity attraction. One must point out that although quality standards are improving and durable materials are being used, excessive play is responsible for accruing damages so that repair costs and/or subsequent investments should be included into the calculation when buying inflatables. Beyond that it is useful to let employees look after the inflatables in order to secure the playing children and to restrict the number of children playing on it. A multi-functional space, which is mostly used as a indoor soccer court and therefore adapted on child needs, enables the operator to organize special events. In particular boys and their fathers use this possibility very gladly, so that with sufficient available space this attraction should find introduction within the total arrangement of a indoor playground. Accompanying games like table soccer and air hockey invite children and adults to common play. Due to their small place requirements and the possibility of generating further revenues these attractions should not be missing in a complete arrangement. Low maintenance costs and low investments are other advantages of these games. Due to their construction, well built vehicles, known from play school, enhance the children’s motoric capabilities. Accordingly to a certain amount of space within the indoor playground they offer a relatively high value. These vehicles used in indoor playgrounds distinguish themselves in design and functionality strongly from those in use at home and add in connection with the available space in an indoor-playground a variety of play possibilities.

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