Those that have invested in bowling understand the value that bowling has beyond the direct revenue. With lanes typically accommodating up to 6 people, one game can take an hour or more. That’s an hour where customers are within the four walls of the business, increasing the chances that they will make additional purchases (food, drinks, other entertainment options, etc.). Leagues typically play three games per match, and casual bowlers typically play more than one game as well.
But beyond the dollars and cents and pricing models, there are a few common strategies that business owners take when it comes to incorporating bowling into their business model. While there is no wrong model, it is critical to understand your audience. From the location of your business to the demographic make-up of your surrounding communities, it is important to match your model to your target audience’s interests.
We’ve identified five of the most common models that we’ve helped bring to life for our clients. In some instances, bowling is the centerpiece of the model, and in others it is a peripheral amenity that merely helps encourage other customer behaviors. If you’re considering starting a bowling business, here are the models you can explore.
Traditional Bowling Alleys
The traditional bowling alley puts bowling first. While many also offer billiards, game rooms, arcades in some cases and a bar, the focus of the business is bowling. In many cases food is not much of a focus with a limited menu available. However, drinks play a big role in overall revenue for the business.
Family Entertainment Centers
As the name suggests, the family entertainment center or FEC, is built around offering a night out that the entire family can enjoy. Often these are large and diverse entertainment experiences where bowling is one of many entertainment options. FECs typically offer a more expansive food menu to accommodate the entire family and drinks, once again, are a critical revenue line for the business.
Boutique Bowling Centers
For many of these boutique bowling venues, the focus is primarily on socializing and nightlife. Typically, a venue for casual bowlers, these centers offer a more contemporary and one-of-a-kind bowling experience that simply is not available in a traditional bowling alley or an FEC. The atmosphere and environment are extremely customized and memorable and while bowling may be the draw for some, the food and drink offerings are typically also very high-end as well.
Non-Traditional Bowling Venues
Increasingly, as different variations of bowling installations increase in popularity (mini bowling, duckpin bowling, etc.), businesses not typically associated with bowling are starting to bring bowling into their businesses. These different variations of the game require less space both in width and length, making them very attractive for non-traditional bowling venues such as breweries, hotels, bars, restaurants, corporate offices, event halls and more. Depending on the venue, bowling is often used as a key differentiator for these businesses but is usually not the primary revenue driver.
Hybrid Bowling Experiences
Business owners are getting increasing creative in how they introduce bowling to their businesses. By combining various aspects of each of these models together, completely unique, and personalized bowling experiences can be born. Often hybrid centers combine elements of the FEC and boutique bowling, and in some cases, they even break out bowling experiences into different rooms for private parties, adult/social bowling and/or family entertainment.
Pick Your Bowling Model
Make sure you have a strong understanding of your target audience and find ways to build or upgrade your bowling business to meet the desires of this group. In addition to this understanding of your audience, you must have a strong vision for the kind of bowling business you want to have. Your creativity and personal preferences are key in developing a unique and exciting bowling experience that your customers won’t forget.