By: Howard McAuliffe, Pinnacle Entertainment Group

The end of the year for the Out of Home Entertainment industry is the busiest time of the year for most of us.  The holidays bring family gatherings, shopping, and kid’s vacations to our personal lives.  For indoor facilities the holidays are extremely busy as the weather gets cold driving customers inside and the group and corporate party season is in full swing.  Layer onto that the need to wrap up for year-end 2019, as well as planning and budgets for 2020.  Then throw in IAAPA, the biggest show of the year for most of us, and the stress and excitement levels kick into high gear.  This leaves a lot to do and not a lot of time to do it, and naturally we start to work faster and longer out of necessity.  I love this time of year both personally and professionally but the enthusiasm for the opportunities and eagerness to get everything done can lead to bad decisions if we’re not careful.


I find it is essential to take time to frequently pause, process, and then proceed leading into the new year.  Our family is a big one, and there are numerous gatherings and events to attend.  It is essential that I take time to stop, talk to my wife and son about the events, and then decide which ones to attend because if we try to do everything, we will wind up angry and stressed.  When operating a facility, business is typically good this time of year, and centers are busy.  It is essential that we make sure to keep the quality and standards high, because this is the time to show our facility to customers who may be attending the first time as part of a group.  It is also a time when loyal customers are bringing friends and family.  Keeping standards high when during the busiest times is very difficult but also one of the biggest opportunities of the year.


Leading into IAAPA it is extremely exciting as we get to see new games and attractions for the first time. Every year, I hear people talking about what they are buying at the show and often I cringe if I know the person is taking an over-sized risk.  It is easy to get caught up in the excitement and desire to get in early on the hottest new products, but that is often not wise for untested products.  It is essential to stop and pause, and make sure we can afford to be wrong about a major buying decision.  Being the first mover can be an advantage or liability, I need to know taking a risk to be the first mover won’t be a fatal one to the business before making it.  For us it is essential prior to making major decisions that the alternatives are thoroughly examined, because sometimes the biggest mistake is not what you do, but what you didn’t do Opportunity cost is the biggest cost for many of us.  Enjoy IAAPA, the holidays, and the excitement of a new year, but be sure to pause, process, and then proceed when the pressure hits.