Beat the Claw Machine



By Stephen Ekstrom | Fire Starter Brands' President

This past week a good friend of mine posted a picture of her daughter & husband holding a cute plush toy with the comment, "Daddy always wins at the claw machine."

I've never been good at that game, so I figured I'd research some tips. I came across a MentalFloss article titled, 8 Tips for Beating a Claw Machine. As I read the article, I couldn't help but notice how each of these tips could easily apply to selling or promoting tourism related products, new destinations and services. 

1 Check out the prize pit.

In the article by Erin McCarthy, she suggests that you've got to see if any of the toys are loose enough to be picked up by the claw. For us, this may mean that you've got to see if operators are sending visitors to your area and if there's room on the itinerary for new product like yours. 

2 Watch the person in front of you.

Yes, you've got to see how the machine (the buyers) react to the attempts of the person before you. In the travel industry, you've got to ask around. Talk to other suppliers or destination marketers in your area to see what sort of response they've been getting from tour operators. Learn what's worked, what hasn't and what things the operators coming to your area are looking for.

3 Pick your target carefully. 

While the pretty princess toy may be your favorite, the plastic egg holding a bracelet may be the easiest to grab. Experts recommend going after the prize that's most attainable. In our business your ideal customer may not necessarily be the type of buyer that's most likely to come to visit. We all know that the international buyer spends three times more money than a domestic buyer and that's an exciting sell to your board of directors, but, let's face it, they're not likely to visit an historic attraction that's hyper-local. For that you may want to focus on buyers and groups from your immediate area.

4 Play once and get a feel for the claw.

Try something! Go to a trade show or join a sales mission to meet with operators and learn how likely they may be to buy, what they think is interesting about your product and how they see it fitting with their current offerings. Use this knowledge to spread the message, try again or, if it's just not the right fit, focus on other markets.

5 Maybe maneuver your prize into position.

With the claw game, this may mean that the first try isn't to capture the prize, but to move it just enough that the next attempt is a winner. For an attraction, hotel, restaurant or destination, this could mean taking a moment to work on the descriptive text, program offerings and unique selling points to be sure they're in line with what operators are looking for. 

6 Use most of your time getting the claw into position.

Take the time necessary to line up your efforts, plan your next steps and carefully execute a strategic plan. Nothing says desperation and disorganization quite like a series of failed attempts that have no cohesive bond.

7 Know when to stop.

Give it a few educated tries. If you've done your due diligence and worked through 2-3 buyer selling cycles without results, it may be time to walk away for a bit. 

8 Don't assume every machine is rigged.

Most operators are hungry for new, exciting, interesting and fun places to go and things to do. You'd be doing yourself a disservice if you assume that their trips are always going to be the same or that they just aren't interested in trying something new. 


Resource: 8 Tips for Beating A Claw Machine