Friends enjoying drinks together - image from Zonal

What influences where people go on their night out?

Zonal recently published a report, “Identifying the Influencer: Reaching hospitality’s decision makers.” This report provides useful insight into what impacts consumers decisions about where they choose to go on their night out. Although the research focuses on bars and restaurants the principles are relevant to leisure venues too.

In this post we highlight some of the exciting analysis which is pertinent to bowling centre operators.

Location, Location, Location

GO tech Info 48%

The old adage that location is everything is still true. The research ranked ‘proximity to home’ as the #1 decision making factor for consumers. There are variations between geographic regions however being able to access facilities near to where you live is hugely attractive.

For bowling centres this is important as it confirms the significant attraction of being able to go to your local alley. There are many towns across the UK who don’t have access to local bowling facilities, creating excellent opportunities for bowling entrepreneurs.

Value and Quality

Infographic from Zonal

Offering value for money has always been important but is even more so during a cost-of-living crisis. The research showed that 49% of 18-34 year old, 40% of 35-54 year olds and 29% of 55+ year olds eat out every week. So, we know people want to spend money on a night out, what you need to do is encourage them to choose to spend it at your bowling alley.

Guests aren’t necessarily looking for cheap, but they are wanting an experience which matches what they have paid.

There are numerous factors which influence perceived value for money. Everything from friendly and proactive customer service, attention to detail with the aesthetic and vibe of the venue (clean, unbroken toilets), ease of use with the activities (no lanes breaking down), quality food and drink and added value, such as free onsite parking

Food and Drink

The Competitive Socialising Report 2022 from KAM noted that the third highest influencing factor (63% of respondents) for consumers when choosing a competitive socialising venue was the opportunity to ‘eat great quality food’. #5th factor (61%) was ‘drinking great quality drinks’.

People are deciding on where to go based on the food and drinks available. Which is why it is so important for bowling centres to take note and ensure their F&B offering reflects the quality standard of the overall venue. Consumers want to be able to enjoy their favourite tipple and they want to have good quality food.  There is an undeniable correlation between the perceived status of your venue and the expectations on your F&B offering. If these do not match, then people won’t come back.

Recommendations and Trust

The Zonal research paper identifies the power of trust to influence consumers’ decisions. The report states:

GO tech Info 61%
GO tech Info 56%
GO tech Info 57%

These helpful statistics reveal the importance of building rapport with your customers and providing them with the experience they want / expect in order for them to come back and tell others about your venue.

Generally, you only get one opportunity to gain a customer’s trust. Which is why every encounter matters and you need to prioritise reviewing your customer experience. Friendliness of staff, time spent waiting, speed of service, ease of booking, quality of F&B, cleanliness of your toilets, music choice etc are important and influential factors.

Training staff to recognise and greet regular visitors, creating opportunities for community (like fun bowling leagues and coffee mornings) and responding positively to feedback are some of the ways you can build trust with your guests.

Personalised marketing communication is important for building a sense of belonging.

The data shows us that if you can become a trusted venue for people in your local area, where their experience is dependable, offers good value for money and meets their expectations then they will become your best marketing ambassador. Not only will they come back time and time again, but they will tell others and encourage them to come.  Remember, 56% of people choose where to go based on the face-to-face opinions of their friends & colleagues.

Group Photo with Friends

Getting it right

It is hugely challenging to balance the expectations of customers with the limitations of your location, budget and staffing. You may benefit from a review from one of our industry consultants, who can help you take manageable steps towards your business goals and maximise the opportunities available to you.

Download the Zonal report:

Many thanks to Zonal providing all the imagery and infographics for this post.

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