What Customers Want in a Bowling Alley
In 2022, the low turnout experienced by bowling alleys during pandemic restrictions has largely ended, and now going to the bowling alley is still a favorite activity for many friends and families. Still, the bowling alley needs to stay modern to keep up with other businesses in the entertainment industry.
This is especially the case because of the rise in casual bowlers who are those that view bowling as one part of a location-based entertainment (LBE) spectrum that also includes restaurants and bars, laser tag, indoor playgrounds, and other activities under one roof.
As time changes, many things people love about bowling alleys have stayed the same, but there are also many new customer desires. In this article, we will give a comprehensive list of the things that the modern customer wants in bowling alleys.
The Things People Want from a Bowling Alley
1. Good Food
When people go to a bowling alley, they often spend a fair amount of time in the facility. This means that people will get hungry. Making sure that people have access to a good selection of food is incredibly important.
Good food will increase dwell time, which means that people will probably pay for more games of bowling. Moreover, if your bowling alley has good food, then there are many people who will come to the bowling alley during meal times with the express purpose of eating a good meal while enjoying the game of bowling.
Many bowling alleys do offer food, but often the only options are largely unhealthy. Staples of the bowling alley are pizza, hot dogs, and some sort of soft drink. However, if you really want your bowling alley to stand out, you may want to have separate establishments in your facility.
One establishment could serve the classics, while the other could serve healthier, more high-quality options. This is a change that customers will love.
The quality and variety of the food served at a bowling alley is incredibly important but so is the presentation of the food. When the food is presented better, people will be more inclined to purchase more.
One of the best strategies for improving the food ordering experience is to make use of digital signage. With digital signage, the restaurants at a bowling alley can make use of a digital signage menu board.
There are many advantages of using a digital menu board over a traditional menu board or paper menus. With a digital menu board, the restaurant can display high quality images and videos of the food and drinks available.
By utilizing digital visuals, a restaurant can much more easily get the attention of customers in the establishment. Other benefits of digital menu boards include rapid customization functionality and increased customer entertainment to decrease perceived waiting time.
These factors benefit both the customers and the business, which will likely see food sales go up with the adoption of digital menu boards.
2. Clean Equipment
This point might seem obvious, but there are many bowling alleys that do not give off a clean feeling, and this can turn off a lot of customers. The modern bowling alley should be totally clean, from the tables that people eat at to the bowling balls themselves.
Having clean equipment and facilities can make a huge difference in how people perceive your establishment. This is especially the case because one of the main demographics coming to the bowling alley is those with high salaries and their friends or family.
Many of the people coming to the bowling alley are used to places that give off a clean feel. And even those from lower-salaried demographics will enjoy the cleanness of your facilities.
3. Arcade Games
When people go to a bowling alley, they are typically expecting more types of entertainment than just the game of bowling.
This can especially be the case if people bring children or groups of children to the bowling alley. One of the best forms of entertainment in a bowling alley is arcade games. Arcade games can appeal to all age groups, but especially children.
Having games like Pac-Man, as well as pinball machines, can be a great source of direct revenue, but an even greater source of indirect revenue, as people spend more time-consuming food and drinks in the bowling alley amongst the variety of entertainment.
4. A Well Stocked Bar
People go to the bowling alley to have a good time, and a good drink can go a long way in social settings. Many people want to relax with their friends while knocking down some pins.
Many bowling alleys serve alcohol, but often a bowling alley will not have a plethora of drink options at the bar. One great to level up the bowling alley experience is to offer reasonably priced drinks with tons of options. Sure, you could simply sell beers from some of the nation’s most popular brands, but what if you took your bar to the next level?
Taking the bar to the next level could mean a lot of things, and there are many ways that you can provide an optimal bar experience. Some options include having an experienced bartender behind the bar, offering hard liquor drinks and cocktails, and having craft beer options.
By leveling up your bar, you can significantly improve the customer experience. If you can make your bowling alley the place of choice when people want to go drinking with their friends (how much more fun is bowling while drinking than sitting around a regular bar!), then you can really see your profits go up, as you foster loyal customers and get good reviews.
5. Engaging Visuals on the Bowling Screen
One really fun part about bowling is the visuals that display on the screen associated with each bowling alley. However, many bowling alleys use visuals that, over time, have aged or become less engaging.
Since many customers like the bowling alley visuals so much, it can be a real draw and improvement to optimize the visuals on the bowling alley screens. It does not sound like too much of a difference, but just try using modernized bowling alley visuals, and it is very likely that you will see results.
6. Comfortable Seating Around the Alleys
A lot of the time spent bowling is actually spent sitting around while other people take their turn to bowl. Because sitting is such a big part of bowling, many customers are looking for comfortable seats in a bowling alley.
This is another one of those examples that does not seem like it would make a huge difference, but comfortable and clean sitting areas are truly one of the best ways to satisfy customer desires.
7. Bumper Cars
When it comes to a bowling alley that is also an entertainment complex, you really cannot go wrong with bumper cars. Bumper cars have been a source of enjoyment at other places of entertainment like theme parks for a very long time, but the amount of fun they can provide certainly has not dissipated.
It is certainly true that constructing a bumper car area can be pretty expensive, so whether or not bumper cars are the right choice for your bowling alley will largely depend upon the scope of the entertainment project. However, if the bowling alley is a large entertainment enterprise, then bumper cars can be well worth the investment.
One great benefit of bumper cars is that it is certainly unique these days outside of the theme park environment. This means that many people will come to your bowling alley for this experience, especially because kids love the activity so much.
Moreover, when people come to your location, you won’t just be making money from tickets for the bumper cars since once you get people to come to your establishment, they will likely purchase food, drinks, and other activities.
8. Laser Tag
Laser tag is another activity that is indispensable for a bowling alley entertainment complex.
The reason being that laser tag is just plain fun, and there are many customers that will be looking for activities like laser tag. Laser tag is all about the competition. It makes video games seem boring, but people get to shoot lasers at each other in real life.
Laser tag, like bumper cars, can be pretty expensive to set up, but if you can establish your bowling alley as the premiere place in your location for playing laser tag, then you are going to make a lot of customers happy.
9. Escape Rooms
Many people are surprised to learn that some bowling alleys offer escape rooms as one of their attractions. Escape rooms have become popular in recent years. You work together to escape from a room using clues and puzzles.
There are different types of adventures to choose from so you can enjoy another world or period of time, and it can be a highly beneficial idea to keep the escape room scenarios fresh and surprising.
In addition, you can consider the difficulty level of the escape room to make sure the activity is appropriate for different ages. Escape rooms generally take one hour to complete, and often people are willing to pay a fair amount of money for a high-quality escape room experience.
10. Modernized Bowling Alley
People are looking for a bowling alley that is highly aesthetically pleasing. A revitalization plan is always a good idea every 10 – 15 years in operation: superior lighting, advanced sound systems, and modern displays – including television screens and radio/PA systems – can make a world of difference to new customers who are looking for a permanent spot for competitive gaming and socializing.
11. Social Media Presence to Keep Friendly Competition Going Online
In an increasingly digital society, it is incredibly important for entertainment center businesses to have a strong and engaging social media presence.
Through social media, a bowling alley can keep customers informed about events, promotions, and any other sort of important information. Social media opens up a crucial point of interaction and marketing between a business and customers.
With digital signage in-store marketing, you can bring social media interaction into the physical establishment. Using digital screens, you can display social media feeds. This will let people know that your business has an active and engaging social media presence, and it can also lead to increased interaction.
For example, many people that go to a bowling alley will be posting about their experiences on social media. If you want to set up your digital signage to display posts about your establishment, then people can find joy in seeing their posts appear on the screens in real time.
This can really promote beneficial customer engagement and encourage word-of-mouth marketing.
14. A Variety of Events
A bowling alley is a perfect location to host a number of exciting events, and that is exactly what many customers are looking for. These events could be private. For example, it could be beneficial to offer birthday packages and promotions, but they can also be events that are open to everyone.
One example of a good event would be a bowling tournament with a prize. This tournament does not need to be professional level, but could be open to everyone, and there could even be different tiers for different ages. Many people love the friendly competition that comes with bowling, and bowling tournaments are a great opportunity to show off one’s skills.
Another example of a great event could be lady’s night. Many women love bowling just as much as men and hosting a lady’s night, where women get a discount, could be a great way to encourage more women to come to the bowling alley with their friends.
Making Customers Happy
Bowling alleys are such a great place for families and friends to come together to have fun with some friendly competition. Of course, the modern bowling alley has become much bigger than simply offering bowling.
It is incredibly important to make sure that the lanes are in good condition and that there is comfortable and clean seating, but many bowling alleys will also want to look for other ways to improve the experience.