In Bowling, The Status Quo Won’t Do

Written by: George Speakman, FEC Specalist, Shaffer Distributing Company for the Tourist, Attractions & Parks publication, June issue

Gone are the days of the plain vanilla bowling alley. As we scan to see the Millennial Generation become a larger source of revenue within our industry we can anticipate the need to reinvest in our facilities to keep them fresh and appealing. Staying with the status quo will not work if you want to have a successful operation. Today’s technology is exciting and one can only imagine what’s coming and how it will impact the landscape of entertainment in our society. But even with the flash and bling the most up-to-date technology, it’s still the ability to create n welcoming social venue that is the focus of the industry. The ability to offer your customers many attractions within a single facility is becoming increasingly popular, and rightfully so. There are many great entertainment options in the market today to choose from that a facility that can add to increase foot traffic. The importance of being able to offer multiple attractions is increasing as competition in the bowling market is increasing. Facilities will need to identify their target audience and tailor their business plan toward that specific demographic.

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Inherently, Bowling Entertainment Centers (BECs), are slightly different from conditional Family Entertainment Centers in that most have a broader customer base. With bowling in the mix of entertainment options, the centers invite family engagement from toddlers to grandparents. These facilities are finding ways to engage their patrons from adulthood to childhood – whether that is a designated area within the facility that has couches and comfortable scaring for the parents or a designated area for toddlers to enjoy their time while their big brother or sister plays games. While a facility cannot be “all things to all people” or is important to remember that the more you can keep all engaged the longer they will spend in your facility, which in turn will lead to additional revenue and repeat customers. There are many factors co look at when determining what a successful BEC is. What is the location’s vision and expectations for the project as a whole? Often, when ownership determines co make the transformation from a conditional bowling alley to a BEC, the business model changes significantly. The success of a BEC c.in be attributed to a clear vision beginning Day One from ownership as to what the expectations arc. The ability to convey that vision through a business plan directed by a solid management team is imperative to the success of the business. Once the vision and expectations have been set with management, it must be relayed and followed throughout the organization. Given the significant change to the overall operations from a predominately bowling-based business to an entertainment-based business there will undoubtedly be a transitional phase in which it is imperative to partner with reputable vendors to ensure the long term success of the operations.