Depending on your age, you or your parents might have once belonged to a bowling league. This was very common back in the day when one parent worked and the mother usually stayed home. Dad had the leisure time to be part of a weekly game with his co-workers. He could relax knowing that his wife was at home taking care of the kids and preparing dinner. Well, that lifestyle has been gone for quite some time, and been replaced with the more common lifestyle of two working parents. These busy parents work all day, pick up the kids from day care or school, run to the grocery store, do laundry and finally get dinner ready. As you can image, the modern day lifestyle makes it difficult for parents to commit to a weekly evening event.
Along with this cultural shift, it was evident that the bowling industry would also change and, that is what happened.
The traditional bowling centers of yesterday are shrinking; in fact, the industry count is now approximately 6,000 centers vs. 12,000 about 10 years ago. In order to keep pace with the changing times, many traditional bowling centers are now converting to a new type of center known as Bowling Entertainment Centers.
In a recent article “Beyond Bowling” Chris Holmes talks in depth about the renaissance that the bowling industry is undergoing. As Associate Publisher for International Bowling Industry magazine Chris lives and breathes bowling and understands this transition. “Traditional bowling will always have its market however, today’s business operators are catering to more casual bowlers and are expanding their business operations.”
Last year 72,000,000 (yes, million) people went bowling at least one time. This is a testament to the appeal of bowling as a sport and family fun.
Chris goes on to say that “Redemption gaming is at the forefront of this change. Most kids today have video games on their computers and cell phones but, these new games are activities they cannot play on a computer. Games such as skee-ball, merchandisers, and crane games are very popular and they are very hi-tech which appeals to this younger generation.”
Along with expanded video arcades and other games, these new hybrid Bowling Entertainment Centers are adding laser tag centers and miniature golf to their arenas. And, they are getting more parties than ever before!
Many operators are enhancing their party offerings because they realize that this is a critical part of their business. A birthday party might be the first reason that a new customer will enter their bowling center. Once they attend the party this family and their friends might become lifelong customers. They may eventually join a bowling league, or sign up for lessons or summer camp. Modernization is a great opportunity to replace old customers with new customers.
Along with these changes, today’s business operators are improving their websites and offering online booking to attract the online consumer.
They know that today’s modern customer wants to research, plan, and finalize party arrangements online. They do not have the time or the desire to use the phone, and certainly will not engage in telephone tag.
The days of Dad belonging to a weekly bowling league might be dwindling, yet the new bowling centers that cater to the whole family are moving full speed ahead.
International Bowling Industry