The reasons for using cybercafes are very varied:-
A friend had gone away – need to contact them.
Have friends who live abroad
Travelling the world, want to keep in touch
Living abroad – read home newspaper and keep in touch with developments in home country
Need to write a CV or letter
Need to send documents by e-mail
Want to download an application form
Want to find out about a particular subject for leisure interest
Want to do work related research
Find out about possibilities of using the Internet
Want to ‘improve’ oneself
Want to have fun with friends
Own computer does not have facility, e.g. modem
Need two computers to play a game
Not allowed to use Internet at work/college
Cannot afford a computer and/or Internet
Do not want to buy a computer or Internet – rational calculation re. Use/cost
Something to do to fill time.
No longer a student with access at the University
Equipment broken down at work/home
Don’t have a printer/scanner
Don’t own a particular game
Enjoy using chat systems
Now the above list is pretty much what most people will come up with but the fact of the matter is that there are other key areas not taken into account. LAN Gaming is a major pass time and if done correctly you could have you place booked out on a regular basis. LAN Gaming in the UK is normally a weekend not sure how this setup will work in the Philippines but its a venture im keen to get involved in. Because its not your routine gamers or users. Normally people arrive on a Friday Afternoon and play until Sunday night or even to a Bank holiday Monday. Its extreme gaming where everyone meets up regularly to compete against each other and can either use house computers or bring theyre own. Advantages of bringing in extra machines is your overheads go down and ideally it will encourage your own machines to be fully booked aswell.
- Can fill an internet cafe.
- Can be booked in days rather than hours.
- Can gain extra income from machines brought into the Cafe for the gaming events.
- Long time period gives you a lot of mouths to supply with food and drink.
- Becomes regular and bigger with time.
- Can be low internet usage as the gaming is generally taking place offline on the LAN (Local Area Network).
- Wider selection of software needed.
- More organisation to keep everyone happy.
- Long hours – Although this can be combated with getting events booked by groups instead of individuals.
- Extra routing equipment needed.
- Security issues not normally a problem need to be researched and dealt with. E.g. if running 24/7 over a weekend what can you do to make sure there is no robberies.
LAN Gaming is the regular money if you can get it setup right. But also remember although a group may book every third friday in a month for example. Remember to cash in on Birthdays and other family functions that could be a way to make extra revenue. The approach to groups is a bit different to individuals but if you can cut into this market it could be an easy way of getting sales up when the cafe is quiet.
Please remember though Internet cafe gamers are noisy and likely to affect students doing research for example. Getting the balance will always be a problem unless you have a similar setup as Tim which is basically 2 x Cafes back to back one for gaming and one for quiet users. Its not always achievable so its best to research who is going to use your Cafe.
The next group of people are the ones looking to chat online but normally for dating it seems to be a cottage industry that has developed. I spent a bit of time researching this and it seems to be happening all over Asia. There is a huge number of women looking for love out there and if you can cut into that slice of the pie you will get regular users who will be using your cafe for several hours a day in a lot of cases. I will write another topic on keeping people in the cafe later.. The thing is the setup of the PC is cheaper than gaming PCs but be careful if buying budget machines in case your clients are going to be mainly gaming as a lot of the machines just dont make the mark.
Students are big spenders even on a tight budget they will still buy junk food, hang around internet cafes and pretty much be a great market to tap into but be aware of “school holidays” you could find that your cafe only makes money part of the year as certain districts rely on the Students for trade when they go home there is no customers. So maximising your income on this type of net cafe setup is probably more key to its survival than other options.
E-Learning Centre this is a very important way forward for any internet based business as it can offer you customers from all walks of life. Now your probably thinking online degree or something that involves a lot of study right? But if you target things right you can be picking up long and short courses which are going to put people in your cafe everyday. Becoming an E learning centre is something Netopia one of the biggest if not the biggest netcafe providers in the Philippines has pushed into. Its a key business that will expand over time and one that needs some serious looking into. As you can see in the photo Netopia has Bill Gates onboard with the project to help Filipinos improve skill levels. But also means Netopia increases its profit margins. Because lets face it there is a lot of things we want to do. There are a lot of courses out there we want or would like to do E-Learning is big business and one thats growing more and more with time. A lot of my studies at college I think could have been done at home on a laptop especially when your dealing with theory and reading. So why drive for miles to a classroom? The next stage is getting your centre recognised and involved in being able to supply certificates which are recognised. Netopia has already taken that step with Microsoft. I think this will be our key business once our cafe is setup as it will be affordable learning but also in bite size chunks allowing people to pick at the bits they need aswell as keeping the costs to a minimum.
So thats E-Learning what about learning? One thing i realised in the UK is the number of people that dont know how to use a PC. The problem is more and more they need to learn this is where taking on the role as educator can be a good project when the internet cafe is quiet. There is a course in the UK called “Meet the mouse” which is a course designed for people that have little or no computer experience. So why not teach people how to use a computer based round the existing course? On top of that you could even issue your own certificates and get the students to make it themselves at the end of the course. The advantage of this type of training is two fold. You have just given new skills to people who didnt have them and you have also increased the number of clients that could use your internet cafe.
That pretty much covers who will use the cafe that I can think of but please comment! the reason im breaking the internet cafe business into smaller sizes is to get more feedback to get a better view on how to operate this type of business.