Bowling alleys are evolving in the 21st century.
In fact, they have to evolve to compete against Virtual Reality Arcades, Escape Rooms, Axe-Throwing Centers, Nightclubs, and other modern locations that offer a multitude of activities and services.
The good news is, you don’t have to become a complex bowling/arcade/restaurant/trampoline-park just to keep up. People still want to bowl, but they want the experience to be unique and impactful.
So, if you’re looking to fill those empty lanes with the nightlife crowd, this article should be right up your alley.
1. Know your demographic
The nightlife is largely dominated by younger people. Millennials can be a demanding group, but they are very much willing to pay for great experiences.
Despite misconceptions, Millennials bowl!
Some may think the sport is too “old-school” for a digital generation, but bowling has a lot to offer them. It’s active, but not exhausting, it can be taken seriously or just for laughs, and it’s a great destination to snap sweet pics and share them on social media—which is basically free advertising for your alley.
What this means, however, is setting up an atmosphere for them. Make sure your music is modern, your menu is varied, and your entertainment center’s social media is active!
2. Create some signature drinks
Your drink menu should also offer some unique experiences, so here’s where you’ll need a bit of creativity.
Talk to your bartenders, chefs, and whoever has a passion for mixing drinks, and put your heads together. Try to come up with something that’s unique and on-brand. And don’t spare the puns when coming up with the names, either—ironically or not, us millennials love puns.
Make the selection varied with craft beer and drink specials, as well as trendy non-alcoholic drinks like teas, lemonades, and virgin cocktails. Honestly, you can’t go wrong with drinks that have kombucha, matcha, aqua-fava, or similar “rare” ingredients in them.
And, of course, advertise them! Show off your signature drinks on your in-house digital signage, social media ads, and other promotional materials.
3. Get lit! Literally…this part is about lighting.
Glow-in-the-dark or “cosmic bowling” can provide a nostalgic feel—and in a crunch, can work as nightlife lighting—but if you really want to stand out, try emulating the interior of a nightclub.
Obviously, you’ll want your lanes to be lit well enough to be able to play properly, but consider different colors and effects that could be used. Laser lights, disco balls, LED displays, and occasionally changing up the color scheme can breathe new life into your lanes.
Consider keeping the dining area dim. Popular nightclubs and bars often use dim lighting to create ambiancethat provides an intimate feel to the overall experience. This will also highlight your main features—the lanes and/or bar area—as they will be brighter than the sitting areas.
Avoid fluorescent lighting as much as possible. The intensity of these lights can be exhausting and tend to make people feel rushed—which is why they’re so common in fast food places and other businesses where the goal is to get people in and out as quickly as possible.
If you want people to stay and enjoy themselves, you need to find that balance between exciting and relaxing.
4. Try some theme nights
Theme nights are fun and easy to put together. More importantly, they give a solid reason for people to come out. They don’t have to be overly involved or complex, but clearly, they should feel different from your regular nights.
1980s and ’90s themed nights are notably popular these days—and so long as you have the right music available and a few decorations to toss around, they can be simple and effective nostalgia-fueled events.
If you’re looking to attract some newcomers to your place, you might want to consider a more niche theme. A specific media franchise, like Harry Potter or Marvel movies, can attract the fandom of that franchise and bring them to a place they may not have considered before.
Plus, filling your lanes with people in superhero costumes, Star Wars gear, or whatever popular fantasy trend is happening, makes for some fantastic social media advertising opportunities.
5. Use your screens to their fullest potential
Visuals are an essential part of the experience. So, while your lighting might look like the coolest club in town, if your screens are just set to network TV or whatever game is on, the illusion is lost entirely.
For a true nightlife feel, fill your screens with music videos, visualizers, and custom digital signage that’s relevant to the evening’s events.
By introducing music videos into your bowling center, not only are you creating a better nightlife atmosphere, but you’re offering a more engaging experience to your guests.
Digital signage marketing is only effective when people actually see them. Music videos give people a reason to look at your screens instead of being glued to the one on their phones. Bring awareness to your specials, deals, and other event nights by intermingling your ads with the videos.
This is what Bowling Music Network specializes in and has provided to thousands of bowling centers across North America. We love the industry and will continue to help our subscribers make their centers the best they can be!
6. Play the music they want to hear
This last point might be the most obvious, but it’s probably the most important: music is maybe the main driving force behind nightlife.
People expect modern, high-quality music when they go to a club—your center should be no exception.
Unless you’re specifically choosing older music to match a theme night, your playlists should be as modern and up-to-date as possible. People will definitely talk about and remember your place if that’s where they first heard their new favorite song, especially if they saw the song’s video, too.
Having a specialized bowling music video service like Bowling Music Network is an incredibly valuable asset. The service not only exceeds what customers expect from a bowling center but enhances the guest experience you provide.
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