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Technology: The enabler that powers Hollywood Bowl Group - Part 3


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Across this three part series, we’re going to share the highlights of Stephen Burns, CEO at Hollywood Bowl Group, talking to Peter Oliver, founder of Green 4 Solutions, about the impact of technology on his business. Part one and part two are here.

Hollywood Bowl Group is the UK’s leading ten-pin bowling business, operating 56 centres nationwide under the Hollywood Bowl, AMF Bowling and Bowlplex brands. It has built a reputation for delivering outstanding family entertainment in venues that are also aspirational leisure destinations for young adults and perfect for corporate parties and events. Since its formation in 2010, Hollywood Bowl Group has modernised the customer bowling experience. With innovations like its state-of-the-art booking and scoring systems, and centres offering American diners, licenced bars and exclusive VIP lanes, Hollywood Bowl Group has brought bowling into the 21st Century.

Part Three: The Future

Peter: Are you in the infancy with what you can do with scoring?

Stephen: The customer’s expectation is changing all the time. Everybody’s ‘premiumising’ their experience, at the moment. Customers are buying experiences rather than things now. The whole retail landscape is changing, and customers are interacting with our product in a way that they never were before, certainly from a technology point of view. Generation Y, which will become our core customer group in the next 5 to 10 years, is consuming media in a different way than we ever did. We (40-50 year olds) are the email generation, and we rely incredibly heavily on email, but actually, none of my kids use email. It’s all messaging.

We therefore need to keep pace with that and we need to keep re-evaluating how our customers are interacting with our product. Ensuring that we’ve got the infrastructure that allows them to do so in a way that they choose, rather than the way that we want them to.

Peter: What’s the next chapter of that technology revolution? Are there other technologies that you see coming into play over the next 12-18 months?

Stephen: I think the biggest challenge everyone’s facing at the moment is how to join it all up. We’re very good “pre” your experience with us, we’re pretty good post, and we’re not bad while you’re with us, but we’re nowhere near as joined up as I’d like to be.

Something that we’re engaged with Green 4 at the moment is looking at how we close the circle on the digital journey? How can the whole thing hang together and work together so that it’s relevant and targeted for the customer? Then, it gives us the ability to encourage the customer to maybe use our product in a time that more suits us, that would also suit them, because we know a bit more about them, rather than just funnelling everyone into our peak trade periods.

We have the ability for us to put products in front of our customers that we know would enhance their experience, therefore driving the spend per game in a much more dynamic and technology led way, rather than just by using point of sale or email as the sole method of doing that.

We are a capacity constrained business. So, yield management is an incredibly important part of what we do whilst ensuring that customers don’t have extended wait and dwell times. If they do, then at least there’s something interesting for them to do whilst they’re waiting for their lane to be available, which is why we have the arcades and the food and beverage areas within each of our centres.

What I’m keen to do is understand which customers would want to come during what we would deem to be, quieter times, freeing up more space for those customers who ordinarily wouldn’t be able to get a lane, because we’re a capacity-constrained business. That’s one of the challenges that we’re working on at the moment. 

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