The past decade or so has brought major changes to the landscape of family entertainment centers (FECs) and other types of location-based entertainment (LBE). The changes have been occurring at a slow pace, so like the frog in the pot of slowly heated water, many in the LBE industry have not noticed the change. The Great Recession dropped sales across the board for all types of LBEs. However, those sales declines were only a continuation of pre-recession trends that were already well into play.
Many existing operators as well as new FEC and LBE developers continue to operate under the belief that as the economy improves, the sales declines of the recession will disappear. In other words, things will get back to normal. Unfortunately, that mistaken belief makes them what we call prisoners of the past. Their thinking is locked into past paradigms rather than the New Reality.
Over the past years our company has been researching trends for all types of location-based leisure (LBL), including family entertainment centers, bowling centers, amusement parks, museums and other cultural venues, sports venues, cinemas, national parks and restaurants. Our research has looked at spending, participation rates, socioeconomic participation, time use and other dimensions of the American public’s use of LBLs. We have found consistent trends occurring across all types of out-of-home leisure; trends that are having a major impact on not only attendance and revenues at leisure venues, but even more importantly, what the new formulas need to be for LBLs to be successful operating in the New Reality.
In summary, here are the trends that have and continue to shape the New Reality for LBLs.