Book More Birthdays: 9 Ways to Pack your Party & Private Event Calendar

As you likely know if you’ve been following me for a while, we focus on birthday parties at our indoor playground locations.

We rely on having a booked-out party calendar every single weekend to be able to be successful. I love being able to look at the month ahead and know with certainty that not only will all of our bills and team members be paid, but also that I can pay myself consistently as the business owner.

Even if you do NOT plan on making parties your main focus, relying on open-play or class sales will reduce your certainty as a business owner and therefore increase your risk. By booking more parties months in advance, you can help offset this risk and likely sleep much better at night.

For us, even a few more birthday parties on our calendar could mean thousands in profit added to our bottom line each month. And once we “cracked the code” and learned how to become booked-solid for parties and events, our business and lives COMPLETELY transformed.

Therefore today I’d love to share some quick tips about how YOU can become booked-out as an indoor play business as well. 

If you’d REALLY like to up-level your birthday booking process -- head to for more resources!



Whether it’s inside your facility or on your website, your customers should be able to quickly discern what you offer in terms of parties and events AND exactly how they can move forward with booking an event.

A major mistake I see many facilities make is having all of the information in a jumbled and confusing pamphlet or in a large amount of text on their site.

A good party page on a website should include the following basic information in a CLEAR format-- like bullets or an infographic.

  • Which party time slots are available on which days

  • What your birthday parties include (in terms of basic offerings)

  • A concise presentation of your different packages

  • What differentiates your facility and makes your parties great

  • How parties can be booked

Giving customers information overload will make them feel confused and overwhelmed and more likely to click away and seek an easier solution for their party.

Instead of listing all of our packages with ALL of the information right at the top of the page, we choose to instead focus on the bullets above and helping customers visualize their event using professional photography. We do provide a clear chart for customers to review at a glance before they continue scrolling to read more about the details of each package.

The easier you make this information to digest, the more parties you will book.


Speaking of making things easy for your customers, online booking capability is a MUST. If you are not allowing your customers to book or purchase your products and services online— at their convenience— with NO employee intervention— you WILL get left behind by competition who does. Just trust me on this one. 

When a new indoor playground opens and I see “call to book” or “email for availability”— I can tell right away they will never reach their potential. It’s all about convenience and as a customer, I, personally, will definitely pass over one facility for another if they don’t make things easy for me online. 

DO NOT create a bottleneck in your business by needing your team to be a part of the booking process.

When considering online booking software, you’ll notice you have a few options. For our first four years in business we utilized Occasion, which works very well for parties and allows customers to choose their time slot, any add ons they want, and pay a deposit.

However, once we had two locations and multiple party rooms AND private and semi-private options, the software proved limited.

If you only have one party option (like our Victor location) and you don’t have a lot of complicated classes or camps to book-- Occasion is a great affordable choice.

However, we decided to switch to Aluvii, a more robust all-in-one system, and could not be happier with our choice.

Not only is the software specifically suited to our needs as an indoor playground, including birthday booking, it ALSO includes everything else we need to run our business like payroll processing, a waiver system, a membership portal, a point-of-sale system, and SO much more.

You can learn more about why we made the switch here (including how user-friendly their birthday booking system is) and unlock VERY special pricing when you mention Play Cafe Academy!

Your birthday party page on your website should have buttons to book in multiple places, so users don’t need to keep scrolling up and down.

EXTRA TIP: Many places, including ours, require a $100 (minimum!) non-refundable deposit in order to reserve and date and time, which helps ensure parties that get booked actually occur. Be sure to include details about this deposit in your party contract, including what should happen to the deposit in the event of inclement weather, natural disaster, or other unforeseen and uncontrollable circumstances.



I can’t stress enough just how important having professional photos on your website is, ESPECIALLY on your birthday party page.

At least HALF of our birthdays are booked “sight-unseen”, meaning that clients are handing over their non-refundable deposit event though they have NEVER been to or seen our facility in person.

Since our birthday parties are a bit on the higher-price side, many of our party clients are working parents who cannot visit us during open-play hours, meaning that ALL they have to rely on when making a decision are the photos available online.

In addition to photos of the play-area, your birthday party page should have photos (without guests or people in them) of a FULL party set-up, so prospective customers can better envision their event, and decide if the space will work for their celebration’s size and style.

If you’re not yet open, do a “mock” birthday set-up and have a photographer take photos from as many angles as possible. This should be done as SOON as your space is ready!  

Stock photos just do not do the trick anymore-- so make this a priority as you are putting together your start-up costs, designing any printed material, and preparing to open.

You will be able to utilize these photographs on social media, in email campaigns, in signage, and MORE for years to come-- so don’t skimp!


One of our most successful initiatives to book more birthday parties is our referral program.

When a client books a party with us, they can get rewarded if their friends or family book birthdays as well.

We typically like to use a 3-pack of play passes as the reward (per-referral) because it’s valuable to our customers (a $25+ value) but does not cost us anything explicitly.  To make this program even more effective, you can allow BOTH the referrer AND the person referred to unlock this reward.

You should also make sure that you are following up with your birthday party clients AFTER their event and making sure they were completely satisfied. We get a large amount of bookings each year from families who have hosted past parties at our facility, which I largely attribute to this follow-up effort after each event. It shows your customers that you don’t stop caring once their final balance gets paid-- and that matters!

We use google forms to send surveys out, but you can also just send a simple email to gain valuable feedback. As part of this follow-up process, you can also ask clients to share their experience by writing a Google review (with a link to do so-- making it simple) so that the good word-of-mouth from a positive experience can spread far and wide and boost your bookings even more!

We share our reviews on social media to remind people of our exceptional service and stay top-of-mind in case they are, at some point, searching for a party venue.


Since we have been around for many years and have an SEO-optimized site with a lot of organic traffic, we don’t run many Facebook ads to “cold” audiences, though we do sometimes when we are approaching our busy booking season.

And, in case you weren’t sure-- a COLD audience member is someone who does not “like” or follow you on social media and has never visited your website, likely indicating they have not heard of your business yet and therefore have not considered you as a birthday venue.

On the flip-side, a WARM audience member is someone who HAS visited your website or engaged with you in some way online or on social media.

What we do instead of targeting a COLD audience (since we are well-known in our area), we instead re-target our social media followers and website visitors with a birthday party-specific ad.

If they are engaging with us online it’s very likely they have children within the play-area age range, so we can be sure we are not wasting ad-spend. While Facebook DOES allow you to choose specific targeting parameters when choosing a cold audience (like gender, marital status, childrens’ ages, etc)-- these targets are FAR from perfect.

If you need help setting up these basic Facebook ads-- take my FREE Facebook ads mini-course here!

In addition to targeting, you must also choose an objective, placements, etc. This free resource will help empower you with the know-how to navigate these choices! It will also help yous set up your website and such to be able to actually track and re-target visitors with these ads (it’s NOT automatic)-- so don’t wait!



Google AdWords is another great way to reach local parents looking to book a birthday. Unlike Facebook Ads, where you just have to hope that the people you reach have a child with a birthday coming up they’d like an event space for, Google AdWords lets you target people searching for specific phrases online.

For example, you can target people searching for “Birthday Party Venues Near Me”, “Birthday Parties for Toddlers”, “Indoor Playground Birthday Party”, and more.

When you are just getting started and are still working on your SEO or search engine optimization, this can be an excellent way to get to the top of these search results.

While the “cost per click” of these ads tends to be more expensive than that of Facebook ads-- the “cost per conversion” (or the cost of someone actually BOOKING a party through the ad) is usually much lower because you are targeting people who are actively searching for what you have to offer, and are usually more inclined to make a quick decision.

Using Google AdWords in conjunction with the re-targeting strategy I mentioned in tip #5 is an EXTREMELY effective strategy because you are essentially reminding anyone who has already expressed interest in your parties to make their reservation! 

These strategies together will be less expensive (when done correctly! Be sure to educate yourself on both platforms) and result in more bookings than any magazine ad placement, radio spot, or tv commercial.


Not quite ready to invest money in Google or Facebook ads? You can boost your SEO and float higher up the list of search results for your desired keywords and phrases (for example, “Birthday Party Venues Near Me”, “Birthday Parties for Toddlers”, “Indoor Playground Birthday Party”) organically (without spending $).

We try to blog about our parties frequently to not only add content to our website that will get us found on google-- but also to continue helping our prospective clients envision their party in our space.

We try to mix-it-up with regard to gender, age, and theme-- but tend to blog more about 1st and 2nd birthday parties because that is the age our venue caters to most.

We share pictures, funny anecdotes from the party, and give shout-outs to any vendors that participated.

When we post the blog, the party family will usually “share” it on social media (as will their family and friends) which results in LOTS of free exposure for us!

We also send emails out with these blogs to gently remind customers of our birthday offering and to offer a fresh take on a theme or share some birthday party tips they may find valuable.

These e-mails (and social posts when we share the blogs) result in more bookings than simply posting pictures or reminding people to book.



Even though blogging about birthdays is something you should be doing consistently (ideally weekly, but monthly works too!), it won’t be realistic for you to write a blog about EVERY birthday party.

Even though we don’t do a full write up each time, we do try to snap a few pictures of each event (with permission) and share them to our social media channels.

Staying top-of-mind with your potential customers in this way  is ESSENTIAL. Many parents only have to plan 1-2 parties a year (depending on how many children they have) so catching them at the “right” time (a few months before their child’s big day) will remind them of your facility and will give them a nudge towards making a reservation.

We like to say things like, “we typically book MONTHS in advance-- so don’t wait to reserve your date!”, because it helps parents realize that your slots are scarce and may help them make a decision on whether or not they want to book.


As I mentioned in tip #7, we like to give our local vendors “shout outs” in our blogs and on our social channels, which they usually share, allowing us to reach a wider audience.

In addition, we like to reach out to local businesses (doctors offices, restaurants, daycares, etc.) who serve parents with small children and ask if we can leave brochures or information for their clients to access. We will usually return the favor and share their materials on our “community” board to make it a win-win situation for both our business and theirs.

This is a very simple (and free-- minus the cost of materials!) way to reach thousands of more potential customers in your area.

Of course, the BEST way to ensure that your party calendar is booked is to deliver an excellent experience every single time, for every single family.

Your clients and guests will notice your attention-to-detail and begin sharing the news about your facility as well as their positive experience to anyone who may be interested.

To hear more about how we deliver an above-and-beyond birthday party experience each time, just click here!




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