Having fun is something people don’t always equate to a restaurant experience. That customer experience can be both enjoyable and accommodating, but at Dave & Buster’s, amusement is a central reason for its growing brand loyalty.

Dave & Buster’s full- service restaurant and video arcade business model has translated into memorable customer experiences. What’s more, fourth-quarter sales jumped more than 15 percent to $270.2 million while full-year sales eclipsed $1 billion for the first time.

“We also reached an important milestone during the quarter as full-year sales exceeded $1 billion,” CEO Steve King said during the fourth-quarter earnings call. “As proud as we are of this accomplishment, we are even more excited about our growth prospects in the future. I want to note that 2017 is already shaping up to be an exciting year for amusement. Driven by compelling new content, including games based on some of the world’s best-known movie properties, this year will reflect the further evolution of our amusement strategy.”

Dave & Buster’s distinctive customer value proposition is known as Eat Drink Play and Watch, which King promotes as “highly customizable and cannot be replicated at home.” Company officials plan to build 11 or 12 new stores this year.

“Despite a challenging casual dining environment and a calendar shift that proved slightly worse than we expected, D&B’s differentiated experience across our four platforms: Eat, drink, play, and watch, continued to provide some insulation against these trends during the fourth quarter,” King noted. “Our promotional strategy is to lead with entertainment and, once guests are in our stores, we want to sell them the complete experience, including our food and beverage offering. We drive traffic by featuring games, food, and beverage on national cable television with an immediate call to action, usually including an element of free game plan.”

King talked about the role of amusement in Dave & Buster’s establishments.

“2016 was yet another successful year for this segment of our business as strong content and messaging helped deliver amusement comp of 6.9% for the quarter and 6.5% for the full year,” he explained. “With titles such as Star Trek, Tailgate Toss, and Rock’em Sock’em Robots, our strategy evolved in 2016 to include proprietary content exclusive to us forever. We appreciate the work of our SVP of Amusement, Kevin Bachus and his team as we continue to collaborate with our many game manufacturing partners to deliver on this strategy.”

During the fourth quarter, Dave & Buster’s completed the systemwide launch of POWER TAP, its premium-priced RFID activation devices. The assortment consists of RFID bracelets, pendants, and wands and guests can purchase these in place of the Power Cards to activate the game.

Chirpify CEO Chris Teso told Loyalty360 that Dave & Buster’s is “smartly navigating” the trend among younger customers to favor experiences over things by leading with entertainment.

“Free gameplay is a definite motivator and kicks off the value exchange with customers on a positive note, which is great for building loyalty and lifetime customer value,” Teso explained. “Moreover, Dave & Busters is actively applying this strategy in its social media outreach. To take this approach to the next level, Dave & Buster’s should consider rewarding Dave & Buster’s Rewards members for their social interaction and participation that supports its marketing goals, grows earned media and new customer acquisition.”

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