Bowling Centers and Virtual Reality: Why (and How) They Mix

The popularity of bowling alleys is on the rise. Food, drinks, and other attractions or games are proving to be increasingly popular among crowds. People are becoming more hyped and demanding more activities due to the increase in personalized experiences and a multitude of indoor and outdoor activities.

Why does this happen? Because there is a need for diversification and attractions that fit a certain need of your targeted demographic. While around 60% of the activity is solely based on bowling, the focus of this article is on what is next. What types of attractions and activities should you consider adding to your bowling venue. Immersive attractions will also be a focus, especially VR.

With over $10bln industry value and an average of 67 million people who bowl at least once a year, according to the Bowlers Journal International, the bowling business is still one of the top businesses to invest in.

It’s fun, it’s active, and it creates and sustains communities.

A group that comes bowling in your venue will spend on average around 2 hours there? The question of today’s article is how can you prolong that time. How can you help your visitors have a more memorable, exciting, and rewarding experience using the right attractions?

More Attractions in a Bowling Center

Attractions should be interdependent and not inter-competitive.

Long gone are the days when a single anchor attraction generates all of your revenue. Guests would rather bowl in a center that’s a complete destination and not just bowling alleys. They want to mix the pleasure of bowling with a wider range of games and attractions, and all of this while they enjoy exquisite food and beverage.

How Can Bowling Centers Elevate Their Game?

One relevant aspect worth trying is moving away from the “cookie-cutter” bowling center. Starting a bowling center is quite a challenge, and it will get more challenging as you start managing and operating it.

Not a lot of facilities can offer an experience that’s longer than a couple of hours. For example, let’s say a family would usually go have some family fun with bowling in one place, then do something else with the kids and end their day eating dinner.

We’re in the glorious age of connected experiences. Adding more attractions to a traditional bowling center is no longer worth considering, it’s a must-do in the coming months.

This goes anywhere from creating immersive experiences through your offering to adding secondary attractions that are creating that hype. From AV bowling screens to online bookings and VR attractions, they enhance the guest experience and give off a modern vibe to the venue. Bowling will be a big draw for many, while others will take advantage of all the other attractions.

RELATED: How VR Enhances Guest Experience in Entertainment Venues

Meet all of the entertainment needs of your customers

Add a new revenue source, that’s not only going to increase the per capita spend, but also create the perception of innovation and a multi-layered experience of fun. It’s one of those points that will make you stand out from your competitors.

If you add a twist to your facility’s attraction mix, you’re creating a dynamic entertainment concept.

Why Add VR to a Bowling Center?

In a previous article, we covered how VR mixes with Bowling and one important takeaway we got from Andy’s Altitude 1291 was that VR (most specifically Arkadia) made “complete sense for them, as it’s a footprint efficient attraction that when positioned in the right spot will draw curiosity and traffic.” Thus, their strategic approach was to give people something to do as an “add on to their bowling experience and integrate it in a bundle”.

▪️ It’s easy and accessible to your guests

VR is a very adopted technology. People are curious to give it a try and it’s very easy to understand the process. You’ve got one operator briefing the guests, and you’re winning process is smooth, safe, and fun!

▪️ The fast gameplay

Bowling is an activity that takes around 1 hour to complete, while a VR attraction allows you to run 10 different groups in that time frame. For example, Arkadia VR Arena is a 6-player attraction, with a game-play of around 5-6 minutes. This means that in that time frame an attraction like Arkadia will have 60 people playing in a fun and competitive environment.

▪️ Increases traffic

Attractions like Virtual Reality create hype. People are more curious to come to a place where there is a variety of activities. Virtual reality has a huge novelty factor, so promoting it both online and offline will definitely attract a lot of people.

▪️  New levels of competitiveness

Virtual reality games must engage players, make them play together, and engage them in competition. These games are much more engaging than the ones where guests play by themselves. Why? In the end, it’s about interaction, about enjoying time with close ones but it’s also about winning and seeing your name at the top of that leaderboard.

▪️  It’s creating a social experience

VR is a great addition to the attraction mix because it has that unique social factor. It’s the same with bowling. Yes, there is that competitiveness in the games but it’s less about the games that are played and more about the shared experience.

▪️  It appeals to all demographics, but especially to younger generations

Guest experience is a very important aspect of every bowling alley. Depending on the VR Attraction, the facility should look for something that appeals to a wide audience – same with bowling. It’s all about that “good honest fun” that just keeps them coming back for more. However, Virtual Reality has that draw factor for the younger generations.

Types of Virtual Reality Attractions

Taking into consideration that bowling is fun, competitive, and both league-based and casual, offering your guests something similar would be one way to go. 

With the booming popularity of VR, you’ll find many options on the market that might seem appealing to you. When looking into VR, there are a lot of things to cover, there’s a ton of things to look at, and our recommendation is to start by answering the questions below:

💡What’s the cost per sq ft?

💡How many guests would I need/hour, to make a sustainable profit?

💡Who’s my demographic? What type of games do I want to have?

Once you have all those answers, move on to the types of VR technology that are now on the market. Attended or unattended? Tethered or free roam? Check the staffing requirements of each of your attractions and calculate the cost of investment and ROI.

If you want to deep dive into the types of Virtual Reality Attractions and discover what would fit best for your Bowling Center, download the Guide To Choosing the Best VR Attraction!

Have a Fully Booked Attraction in a Bowling Center

With the 6-Player Arkadia VR Arena’s feature, called Multi-Game Sessions, we created the first fully-booked arena at all times! This allows operators to welcome 2 different groups inside the arena.

How Does it Impact the Guest Experience in the Bowling Center?

Every group that’s playing has an individual experience, leaderboard, and, of course… their own thrills of fun! The FEC gets the highest throughput and revenue per game session. 6 people are playing simultaneously while not interfering with one another and helping out the operator with onboarding the guests!

The Feature:

▪️ Increases the Throughput Rate Even More

▪️ Maximizes the 6 Player Value

▪️ Increases the number of game sessions by 25%

While it’s safe to say that there is a need for more attractions in entertainment venues such as bowling centers, what’s important to take into consideration is how you create that mix. Understand your demographic’s needs and see how they’re changing. Analyze how can you elevate the guest experience through attractions such as Virtual Reality and most importantly, offer an amazing experience from start to finish to your guests!