Today there are dozens and dozens of supplier companies now acting as consultants to start-ups as well as individuals and companies offering seminars to the family entertainment center (FEC) and location-based entertainment industry. Many of them are very good and reputable. But here’s the dirty little truth about many of them that you may not be aware of – they are NOT representing your best interests although they may be telling you they are. That’s right, they are NOT representing your best interests. Rather they are representing their own best interests. Why? It’s rather simple.
Here’s what a number of industry consultants and designers who will advise you on the attractions, furnishings, equipment and technology systems you should buy aren’t telling you. They are actually receiving commissions or referral fees from the companies they steer you to. That’s right, they’re getting paid to have you buy from those companies. That is very clearly a conflict of interests. They are putting their financial interests ahead of yours. So think about it, if there are two choices for a particular attraction or type of attraction, and one is good and the other is the best, but the consultant will get a commission or referral fee from the good one but not the best (even if it costs less), which one do you think they will recommend?
We have recently seen a number of suppliers put together free seminar programs. On the surface they sound like they will cover a lot of topics you want to learn about, and heck it’s free. Here’s the dirty little truth about them; they are infomercials in disguise. That’s right, the reason they are free is usually because they want the chance to get you in front of them so they can subtly pitch their product to you. It’s not necessarily a direct sell. But I guarantee you the information that is presented will be biased in favor of their products, and you surely won’t get any information about competitive offerings.
So before hiring a consultant or designer, find out if they accept any sort of compensation from suppliers for referring business to them. In fact, get it in writing that they don’t before hiring them. And when you are looking at any seminary program, look at who the speakers are. If they are from supplier companies, I guarantee you any information they give will in one way or another favor their products and not the competitors. And if the speakers are consultants and designers who get commissions from those companies, you also won’t be getting unbiased advice. So either way you may not be getting the full truth.
Don’t get us wrong. There are many reputable consultants and designers who will only represent your best interest and not take any form of compensation from suppliers. For 25 years our company has never accepted any type compensation from any company and we put that in writing in our contracts. We work with many other colleagues in the industry who have the same high ethical standards.
There are also a number of very good unbiased seminar programs in the industry. One is Foundations Entertainment University. But if you want great advice, you will probably need to pay for it. If it is offered free by a supplier, there is a true hidden cost to it. You won’t necessarily be steered in the direction that is in your best interests and that can cost you in the long run.