Bringing the haze into play

Tag Team offers discounts linked to the PSI at its fully indoor laser tag facility

A climbing PSI is something most people would moan about under their N95 masks. That is, unless you are a fan of laser tag.

A Singapore company offering the game has implemented a hazelinked pricing system: the higher the three-hour PSI or Pollutant Standards Index on the National Environment Agency website, the higher a discount you get. The promotion is applicable only to walk-in customers and not prebooked guests.

For example, a PSI of 144 would mean 14.4 per cent off the bill. However, if the PSI drops below 100, signalling good to moderate air quality, normal prices return.

Tag Team Inc introduced the scheme three weeks ago to get people physically active without having to go out and battle the haze. The Escape The Haze promotion is available only at its new Downtown East branch. Opened in late September, the 10,000 sq ft facility is fully indoors. Its other branch, in East Coast Parkland, which also provides indoor archery, does not have air-conditioning.

Since the promotion started on Oct 10, the highest discount has been 24.4 per cent - on Oct 23, when the PSI peaked at 244 - says Tag Team director John Lim.

He adds that the company wanted to provide a "haze-proof and fully air-conditioned environment" for customers to exert themselves without worrying about health hazards.

"We also aim to give a twist on the current hot topic of the haze, showing some cheer in this time of gloom," adds Mr Lim, 32, pointing out that the school holidays next month and in December mean that families will be looking for things to do.

Laser tag uses infrared technology and is suitable for all ages. Playing individually or in teams, participants score points by "shooting" or "slicing" infrared-sensitive targets with an infrared-emitting device in the shape of a gun or sword. Tag Team Inc also provides a mobile service, setting up the game at your chosen venue.

Not everyone approves of the initiative, however.

One nightlife operator, who declined to be named, says it will not be doing promotions with haze-linked prices, deeming it a sensitive issue - people overseas who are closer to the haze hot spots have it much worse and the operator prefers not to turn the hazardous predicament into an opportunity for profit.

Similarly, a spokesman for Amped Singapore, which runs indoor trampoline parks here, says it will not be offering haze-pegged discounts.

"Our particular business is equal with or without the haze, so we have not thought about these discounts. Furthermore, this is a seasonal occurrence and is hard to predict," he adds.

However, Mr Lim believes that local businesses have to be bolder when faced with the haze.

Since the introduction of the haze-related promotion, he says, walk-in customers have increased by about 30 per cent, compared with the beginning of the hazy period last month. The branch now sees an average of more than 100 customers on weekends.

Mr Aditya Mirchandani Rodrigues, 20, a polytechnic student who used to play frisbee on weekends before the haze hit, has never played laser tag, but feels more inclined to try it now because of the promotion.

"It's an intuitive way of attracting customers and other companies should conduct their promotions in a similar way," he says. "The haze is the main reason I cannot play outdoors. This gives me a fun and fresh reason to get my exercise."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 30, 2015, with the headline 'Bringing the haze into play'. Print Edition | Subscribe