[blockquote quote="It’s about creating those memories and sharing those experiences." source="Preston House, owner of Tri-Fun" align="right" max_width="300px"]
Planning a staycation in the Tri-Cities this summer?
A new membership-based business called Tri-Fun aims to give families affordable access to 12 unique entertainment venues to create lasting memories.
Preston House, owner of the Papa John’s franchise in the Tri-Cities, launched the new business in December.
“My goal is to get people to experience more of what the Tri-Cities has to offer and help businesses grow at the same time,” he said.
Members who pay a $44.99 annual fee can redeem one free admission to each of the entertainment partners.
Membership includes an Americans hockey home game ticket, a carousel ride, popcorn and soda at the Gesa Carousel of Dreams, bucket of balls and 18 holes of mini golf at Golf Universe, a paint ball or laser tag visit at Red Dot Paintball, a free game of bowling and shoe rental, as well as $3 arcade card at Atomic Bowl, an archery lesson at Ranch & Home, free open play session at Bouncin Bumble Bees, and an ice skating session and skate rental at Toyota Arena.
House said the total value of the membership is $200, which is the cost to visit each of the venues independently.
To redeem at the various venues, members can pull up their account information on their mobile device to show the venue or print a copy of the membership pass.
“One thing I’ve noticed being a transplant is that people don’t really go to other cities. They don’t know what’s out there,” House said. “I have relationships with all these venues, whether through pizza parties or sponsorship deals. All of them could use some help with marketing. Sometimes you end up throwing money at things and hoping something sticks, but by being part of Tri-Fun, it’s the reverse scenario. They will only have a cost if someone walks through the door.”
House’s lightbulb moment for the business came when his daughter had to turn in a school assignment describing her family culture through family pictures.
“There was one that she was most insistent on using,” House said of a family selfie taken while they were eating out together. “Our daughter said it represented that we liked to have fun and be silly together.”
For his daughter, the shared experience was most important. That’s when House decided he wanted to facilitate similar experiences and others.
“When we’ve done trips or go do stuff around town, those are the things they remember,” House said. “It’s about creating those memories and sharing those experiences. It’s why we think something like this made so much sense.”
“We also kept hearing people in the Tri-Cities saying that ‘we have nothing to do.’ All these things were just brewing together, so me and (my wife) Emily kind of put our heads together. We saw a similar concept somewhere else. We finally said, ‘We’re going to do this.’ We can make a difference in people’s lives, so we started developing the idea and went from there to make it happen,” he said.
The launch of this new business venture hasn’t been without its challenges, said House, who attributes stagnant membership sales to not only educating the public on what Tri-Fun is, but also a particularly harsh winter.
Parker Hodge, executive director of the Gesa Carousel of Dreams, confirmed the suspicion about the weather. Rides at the carousel were down 56 percent in January compared to the same time last year.
“It was even lagging into February. A lot of people were just holing up and staying close to home, not going out,” he said.
Hodge said being one of the listed venues in Tri-Fun has brought some new traffic to the carousel, and he hopes it will pick up now that the weather is getting warmer.
“We’ve had about seven or eight people redeem their membership and they’ve enjoyed it. All but one were new people who wouldn’t have come otherwise to experience it for the first time,” he said. “They’ve expressed satisfaction with the concept of the pass. We had one family who were coming to the carousel and then heading to a roller derby bout. It was kind of a family weekend thing.”
Hodge called the pass a great value.
“We’ve been really pleased with it, but like everyone else, we’d like to see membership go up, but there is a learning curve to get people accustomed to what it is,” he said.
House said his long-term plan is to diversify the list of affiliated entertainment vendors, while keeping costs low. He said as he works on getting new vendors involved, the price for members will get locked in.
“Whether it’s a young couple, older couple, or families, … we want something that works for everybody,” he said. “We’re working on adding one more vendor right now. We’re working on several actually. It makes sense for people to get in right now to take advantage of the low price. They will automatically get access to new vendors.”
For more information, visit tri-fun.com or call 509-795-0730.
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