Prize Wheels and Their Move from the Midway to the Meeting Room

Prize wheels, we all know what they are and what they do, so why is it when we think of them our minds go directly to Wheel of Fortune or an overjoyed contestant jumping around “The Big Wheel” on their way to the showcase showdown? Games of chance have been around since the first grafter took to the streets but the prize wheels explored here are a modern way to bring joy and prizes to employees or potential customers. Many companies from all facets of business and industry have turned to prize wheels as a means of boosting employee morale and offering incentives or rewards in a fun and interactive manner. Weekly or monthly meetings can be more productive or at least more greatly anticipated when employees know that a prize wheel will be in use. Now for the everyday company looking use a prize wheel it would be completely unreasonable to think that an everyday normal business could give away a free vacation or Ipod every week but that is why these modern prize wheels are so great, almost all the wheels of fortune sold for inter-business or promotional use are now customer customizable! The most common use for the modern everyday consumer prize wheel is within a company for in-house and companywide promotions. They are a great way to make meetings more entertaining and offer a fair way to provide gifts or incentives in an entertaining manner. The wheel spinning with bright colors racing around and the “click clack” sounds of the wheel evoke excitement for not only those spinning the unit but for the rest of the people gathered around.

In looking at vintage and antique prize wheels one finds many ornate and detailed items. The wheels themselves had to be eye catching to draw in potential customers and gamblers from the midway or the gaming floor. These wheels are almost always outfitted solely with numbers for they were meant to be used over and over again for different prizes in a myriad of places and situations, i.e. for use with a traveling carnival or by a casino. These numbers or to a lesser extent, colors, would represent a corresponding prize. One of the advantages to using numbers was that when the customer would look at the large wheel filled with numbers they would blend together and would be almost indistinguishable which would allow the proprietors to have a single number only repeated once to lower the odds of that number being landed on by the gamer. Another common use for the prize wheel was by department stores for attracting new or repeat customers. The wheels of chance were located at or near the register and would have percentage discounts: 10% off, 15% off, free gift, etc. This type of use appealed to the inquisitiveness of customers and would draw them to a certain market or store that had the better odds or a more appealing wheel.

Why is it important to take a look back at the evolution of the prize wheel? There are many ways to incorporate this particular game of chance into a business and understanding how they have been used in the past can be extremely helpful when thinking of creative ways to use these wheels of fortune. The new readily available game wheels can be basically broken down into main categories: those with printed slot inserts and those which are designed to be written on. Both styles come in smaller tabletop units or larger models which are free standing or designed to be mounted on an easel.

The re-writeable wheels are often constructed from the same dry or wet erase materials found on the conference room walls in any office. This is ideal for not only fast, often and non-permanent changes but that the utensil needed to write on them is often readily accessible in the modern office. These write-on units are generally the more affordable options and the ones most commonly seen used in the office place. Do not be fooled though, the write-on units can be designed as more of a deluxe model with stainless steel bases and poles.

The printed slot insert styled units are the more costly of the two styles of gaming wheels but they offer more visual appeal and are constructed of more durable materials. Wheels with pre-fabricated slots for printed prize signs allow for users to have more creative control over the style and feel of the game. The companies who manufacture and sell these styles of wheels will often have computer program (Microsoft Word®, Adobe Illustrator® or PDF) templates which give the exact dimensions for each slot and have a full page (8-1/2” x 11”) ready template for easy perfect size printing. Not only can each of the prize locations be customized but often these models will be outfitted with a center plate in which users can put their company or charity name in the middle and have it be the one stable constant image throughout the whole display. These units are more commonly used by retail companies and businesses who want to strum up attention at job fairs or trade shows. With the proper attention to designing the inserts users can make these affordable wheels look like they were custom designed for their specific company.

What if a business wanted a custom designed wheel? Well, they would be in good company for many major industry leaders like Coca-Cola® and Dunkin’ Donuts® as well as major non-profits and charities have had custom prize wheels created for their own promotional needs. These are not the average promotional displays and do cost significantly more money than the more readily available user designed wheels that are targeted to the general public. However these custom wheels do have visual impact that is unmatched.

Aside from the business uses already described in this article there are several more common uses for the customizable prize wheels. Many parents have purchased a version of the customizable prize wheel for use at birthday parties. The wheel is a great way to get children involved in games or a fair way to pick teams. Also these prize wheels have been integrated into the classroom as an educational tool. These wheels have been paired up with increasingly popular bird bingo. Bird bingo is just like the bingo that you know and love but instead of numbers this game uses birds. This simple game helps children improve their identification skills and does so in a fun and interactive manner. Teachers and educators utilize the wheel as a means for calling out the letters: B, I, R, D, S or the feathered friends themselves.

The next time you see a prize wheel it will most probably will not be situated in-between the cotton candy and the candy apples on the midway of a carnival. Most likely the next time you step up to the big wheel of fortune it will be at a sales meeting or sitting down for a thrilling game of bird bingo! So take a spin with a prize wheel, you never know what your company could win!

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