The state of family entertainment centers (FECs) in 2023 is vastly different than in the 2000s, 1990s, and earlier. With an eclectic blend of ownership types, experiences offered, and infusion of technology, FECs need to cater to multiple generations, demographics, and preferences.
Nick DiMatteo, Chief Games Officer for Fortyfive Games, was recently featured on the Guest Experience Show to discuss how some of these changes came about and how the industry responded to them. Expectations continue to rise, and the industry must adapt and ensure that they are meeting new expectations. With this evolution comes business intelligence that offers more actionable insights toward running your business - as long as you utilize the data effectively. And lastly, when it comes to managing our people, Nick discusses the importance of embracing failure and how it ultimately leads to success.
The evolution of Family Entertainment Centers
When you think about venues such as bowling centers, roller rinks, and movie theaters, you likely have nostalgic memories of these venues in your childhood. They focused on their core offering and perhaps had some ancillary component that helped to increase the length of stay and spending, although the focus outside the primary product was minimal.
Today, bowling centers still focus primarily on bowling. Still, the industry's evolution no longer serves only those who come for the sake of bowling itself, but rather as an entertainment destination. The additional offerings often include other experiences seen amongst larger family entertainment centers, such as laser tag, axe throwing, a more robust arcade, and a stronger emphasis on food and beverage. The same pattern can be recognized in other venues such as roller rinks, movie theaters, and other centers that have branched out from their core offering.
By making these upgrades, family entertainment centers are evolving with consumers’ trends and preferences, focusing more on the social experience rather than allowing traditional bowlers to improve their scores and compete in leagues. This expands the demographics, particularly younger generations, who seek social outings and experiences that they can share with friends and family.
Using data to anticipate guests’ needs
Data is everywhere. Throughout your operation, you collect a considerable amount of data points for each guest, which, if not utilized effectively, can be overwhelming and result in missed opportunities for revenue and an enhanced guest experience.
In an arcade, for instance, you can use data from game cards to track the movement of guests and see the most common locations where guests exhaust their game cards. Knowing this information enables you to place a kiosk strategically so guests can reload, rather than creating friction that requires them to head back to the entry to add more money to their card - or determine that it’s time to leave.
Related: ROLLER makes FEC management easy with integration to Intercard
The term failure often has a negative connotation. Failure is often equated with being the opposite of success and should be avoided at all costs. Avoiding failure, however, is also avoiding success. Nick demonstrates this by talking about a skilled skateboarder who has mastered a trick to the point of perfection, but it took 400 tries to get to that point. Everyone celebrates success when the trick is completed, but no one is booing the skateboarder as they try and slowly iterate and improve with each attempt.
When it comes to leadership, leaders must embrace their teams' failures and celebrate their improvements as they work toward success. If you don’t believe in your people, then you aren’t going to go through those same repetitions of failure, and therefore you aren’t going to get to the other side.
As your FEC continues to evolve with the industry, you’ll need a leading technology partner to ensure that you are meeting your guests’ expectations when it comes to buying tickets, booking birthday parties, signing waivers, and much more. Click here to see how ROLLER can help remove friction from your guest experience.