IAAPA has recently completed the most comprehensive research reports into FECs. 133 centres surveyed were asked questions based on their visitor numbers, spend and dwell time. But what is keeping visitors engaged and spending money?
We’ve listed the top 10 most popular attractions currently being used by FECs and looked into their future successes.
10 – Playground
A surprising entry? It may not be a source of revenue for FEC operators, but it is a source of increasing visitor dwell time. This isn’t the only physical activity-based attraction in the top 10 either – as the “era of fear” about children’s well-being continues to dominate.
Thinktank City Lab says playgrounds need to put “adventure” back into the heart of their designs to add “risk” and thus, more enjoyment too. This, a move that will increase dwell time further if executed correctly, but more of an operational headache.
9 – Bowling
A stalwart of FECs, bowling continues to be enjoyed by many families around the world. Almost a quarter of all IAAPA report respondents said they have embraced the activity within their facility.
Will it continue to be part of FECs going forward? Tenpin’s plans to organise remote matches with competitors worldwide, or even embracing ‘pins that levitate’ to gamify the experience further, will certainly keep bowling a popular activity for years to come.
8 – Climbing walls
Another exercise-induced activity makes the top 10. Climbing walls have become prevalent around the world. The leaders in the market for family climbing, Clip ‘n Climb, has 233 locations worldwide – a figure that continues to grow exponentially.
“Diversification is so important” claims one of the voices of the climbing world, iloveclimbing. They believe the future of climbing should be colourful and provide a large bouldering space for everyone in the family to enjoy.
7 – Outdoor go-karts
23% of FECs said they’d invested in outdoor go-karts, a great way for motorheads to experience the track at it’s most enjoyable.
The future for go-karts looks exciting and is bound to see the activity go higher into the top 10 with the introduction of electric karts with ‘booster buttons’, not to mention the potential use of virtual reality alongside the experience – as reported by AV Interactive in 2019.
6 – Outdoor mini golf
Interestingly, 23% of survey respondents said they had an outdoor course, compared to just 5% who said they had an indoor facility. Could we see a shift towards more indoor courses in the future as immersive technology is installed?
Fascinating insight by research Collin Glenn Smith, has shown that the game of mini golf could be viewed as ‘broken’ as the self-labelled family game becomes an individual and frustrating battle against themselves. Future courses require new ways to score and a magical narrative.
5 – Trampolines
Are we at a saturation point with trampolines? Apparently not, as the latest Global Trampoline Market Report until 2028 forecasts a 5.3% growth over the next ten years. Uninspiring growth, but growth nonetheless.
It is no surprise then that trampolines made the top five for attractions in FECs. They are ‘of the moment’ and tie into the need for exercise-inspired activities. 26% of FECs surveyed, have them.
4 – Toddler area
36% of FECs surveyed have a toddler area to entertain kids, and for those that charge extra, generate extra revenue too. With the average age of an FEC guest being just 19, it is confirmation of the industry’s reliance on younger families.
3 – Physical play
Rope climbs, ball crawls and other types of mini activity-based experiences were classed as ‘physical play’ by IAAPA in their survey – and these proved highly popular with 38% of respondents saying they had one of the experiences. Another sign that FEC operators are embracing the “fear” around childhood wellness and obesity.
2 – Laser tag
Closely associated with the video games market, laser tag has seen a consistent increase in revenue since 2008 in the US. A surge in esports and combative games, such as Fortnite, has made Laser tag’s popularity soar, once more.
But what next? Virtual reality headsets could revolutionise and gamify the activity further. Research by White Hutchinson into participants have revealed an even split between participant ages – from 5 to 55+. Any technological advancement should be done with this in mind.
1 – Arcade games
Both redemption and non-redemption arcade games topped the most popular attractions used by FECs. Both non-redemption (61%) and redemption (52%) arcade games far outweighed the popularity of the other nine attractions listed.
Their ability to generate revenue and increase dwell time has been embraced by Cineplex to create five amusement FECs in Canada – labelled The Rec Room. Combined with quality F&B and a millennial ambience, this new concept will re-authorise arcade games as the focal point of the experience.
An FEC of the future
Will future FECs include more tech, more sports games, more IPs? Will the key market audience be an older or a younger demographic? Where will they be located?
If you’re thinking of expanding out a new FEC concept of the future, and want to take advantage of the ever-increasing footfall the sub-sector is seeing, get in touch with us to see how we can work together to find out the answers.
Robbie is Insights Analyst Lead at Katapult – A Creative England Top 50 company, that create physical and digital guest experiences that amaze and engage your visitors.