Editor Commentary Entertainment Isn't What It Used to Be

If you are a regular reader of our Leisure eNewsletter, you might have noticed the infrequent use of the term entertainment or entertainment center in the articles. Heck, we even brand this eNewsletter as leisure rather than entertainment. That isn't due to an absence of entertainment in the centers we design and produce for clients. Rather, our verbiage reflects our recognition of a significant shift in the values of families today, their use of leisure time, and the changing nature of the entire consumer destination landscape. Entertainment isn't what it used to be, especially in leisure facilities based in the heart of communities. Or should we say that the entertainment of old doesn't fit the families of today. In fact, entertainment is far too narrow of a term to describe what families are seeking today. A better term would be 'enjoyable experiences'. Sure, that can include entertainment, but experiences are much more holistic. Entertainment, if it is included, is only one component of an enjoyable experience. Enjoyable includes many other attributes, such as, comfortable, socialization, value, ambiance, relaxing, enriching, fun and refreshing.

Another important issue is that many retail, cultural and restaurant destinations are now vying for a piece of the out-of-home experience pie (see March article on shoppertainment).

Quite honestly, we have found that the entertainment center models from the early 90's and earlier are totally out of sync with society today. Many are dinosaurs on the verge of extinction. Some, such as Malibu, Discovery Zone and Mountasia, are extinct. Yes, today some of the entertainment components are the same, but the presentation needs to be much different to succeed. These old models tend to almost totally focus on the entertainment as the experience, rather than recognize that the entertainment is only one aspect of what needs to be a much broader experience model. The entertainment by itself doesn't work. It needs to be more targeted and packaged with other ingredients like edutainment, more upscale food, cafes, enrichment and superior quality-of-place (see February, March and this eNewsletter quality-of-place articles).

To better signify the up-to-date nature of the destination leisure centers we are producing for our clients that are on the vanguard of these leisure shifts and trends, we are using a completely new vocabulary to describe them with terms like edutainment, enrichment, family lifestyle, adventure and discovery.

Several articles in this issue discuss some of these points. If you don't agree, that's fine. At least we probably have you thinking. Read on.