It's time to change the industry's lexicon

Studies in linguistics show that the words we use to describe things affects and frames our thinking. So the words we use in the location-based entertainment (LBE) industry to categorize and describe the different types of venues can affect how we develop and operate them. And that is the problem right now with much of the LBE industry. We are continuing to use venue names that no longer fit what they are or need to be, so it keeps us stuck in the past and blocks innovation to match a changing market.

A little over a year ago, our CEO Randy White posted a blog titled Get unstuck; It’s really about social-tainment! In it he pointed out that we are seeing the emergence of many new innovative and hybrid combinations of entertainment, dining, drinking and group functions that are responding to the disruptive pull of the digital and virtual worlds, yet we continue to use outdated labels for the venues that make us prisoners of the past and perpetuate industry paradigms. He suggested that we all start using a new name for the venues, social-tainment venues, as it takes the emphasis off of the entertainment and places it on the social experience, which is the primary driver of most visits. Randy said, “The development of successful social-tainment venues requires a holistic view of the guest experience rather than believing guests are coming primarily for the entertainment.”

Our company has been pondering this ever since. We have come to the conclusion that although social-tainment is a much better term to use versus family entertainment centers, bowling center, etc., it is still too limiting. True it focuses on the social and includes entertainment, but it fails to incorporate the importance of food and beverage to the guest experience. We could consider using some other acronym such as SET for social-eatertainment, which encompasses the three main components, but even that can limit our thinking as now many venues incorporate informal learning, team building and other activities that don’t fit the description.

So what we believe we all need to do to open our minds and avoid framing our thinking so narrowly concerning the venues we develop and operate is to use the term location-based leisure and the acronym LBL. It’s about so much more than the entertainment or the bowling or the laser tag. Those are only one part of a much larger equation of what attracts guests to venues and shapes their experience and desire to return. We’re not in the entertainment business, we’re in the business of creating leisure destinations that include food and beverage, social experiences and may or may not include entertainment (Now there’s something to ponder, why not!)