Competitive socialising – including games and competitions as part of a larger social event – is the hottest new trend in the hospitality industry. It is especially popular among millennials, who prioritise spending on experiences rather than physical products.
Want to know how your business can make money from the phenomenon? Let’s look at:
What is competitive socialising?
The idea behind competitive socialising isn’t entirely new. It is part of everlong socialising customs in human history. For example, the once again popular knife throwing is an ancient Nordic sport played by the Vikings.
Nowadays, competitive socialising consists of having fun at a hospitality venue over games and a high-quality food experience. For example, in the UK, pool, darts and snooker are some of the most popular social activities. In the US people love playing cornhole, air hockey, Jenga, and skeeball. Other fun activities include karaoke, board and card games, shuffleboard, ping pong, crazy golf, pinball, bowling and pub quizzes.
Why competitive socialising is profitable?
It appeals to a diverse crowd
The competitive socialising boom has many reasons. According to Designworks, especially urban professionals, millennials, students, and families are directing their money and time into relaxing socialising activities that don’t necessarily involve alcohol. Social games have an element of inclusivity across age groups and socio-economic status – something conscious customers appreciate.
“Millennials are spending less on products and more on experiential activities. Younger generations aren't turning to alcohol to fulfil their social needs and desires but to activity led, contemporary and diverse experiences.”
Experiential activities seem to appeal to a wide range of customers from different walks of life. What’s common, however, is the emphasis on fun and shared moments, which involve meaningful activities. Those moments, in turn, produce experiences. The current leisure and nightlife sector borrows much from the attractions industry in offering wow-moments for customers to post on social media.
It stretches the dwell time
The rule of thumb in the hospitality industry is to keep the customers as long as possible. For this, your guests need enough reasons to stay. Engaging arcade games, as well as appealing snack options, are traditional ways of stretching dwell time.
According to Singa’s business clients, typical customers tend to stay 3–4 hours at an average karaoke establishment. Lowering booking fees on special days might encourage guests to stay longer and buy more refreshments.
Typically, customers come to hospitality places first for high-quality food and drinks. After that, they like to spend additional hours playing games, singing karaoke, and ordering extra snacks and drinks. If you play your cards right, the customers will spend even more time socialising, followed by yet another round of snacks – it's the never-ending loop of a night out.
Investments are low risk
Competitive socialising provides a valuable alternative revenue stream for hospitality businesses. When it comes to boosting income, experience services are affordable, easy to use, and low-maintenance. Setting up competitive socialising games at your venue ultimately depends on which games you want to include in the selection.
Each game has its unique requirements, but they usually come with their pieces, tokens, boards, pawns, and reasonably priced parts. Decide whether your venue specialises in a specific competitive game or you want to offer a wide selection of gaming options.
For example, on average, pool tables cost between £900–2,500 ($1,200–3,500). Commercial free-standing dartboards cost £180–3,000 ($250–4,000), whereas a high-quality electronic soft tip dartboard is about £150 ($200).
In addition to investing in the game itself, it’s essential to decide on the environment where the game-play happens. Can the games be played anywhere at your venue, or do they require a specific space? Setting up a game area or a themed space increases costs but usually pays quickly back through customer attraction.
5 ideas to implement competitive socialising in your venue
1.) Elevate your business with karaoke rooms
Karaoke is a socialising form in which people take turns singing popular songs, usually into a microphone with the support of recorded backing tracks with lyrics. Karaoke is typically offered by karaoke bars and clubs. Depending on the venue, karaoke bars might have separate karaoke rooms or an open mic setup.
Investing in karaoke is relatively risk-free and low maintenance. The gear required is the basic hospitality venue equipment, which you would mostly need anyway. The basic karaoke setup consists of TV screens, speakers, a mixer, and some microphones.
"Guests in the karaoke rooms spend significantly much more than in connection with other activities at Biljardbaren. This can be seen in the party atmosphere where the roof is raised, literally."
Singa estimates that the initial starting cost of a karaoke room for an existing hospitality venue is around £1,000–2,000 ($1,300–2,600). The estimate includes the gear and a small-scale touch-up for the venue. Depending on how much of an impression you want to make, the sky's the limit!
Turning an old smoking cabinet or a storage space into a karaoke booth is rather easy with some paint and furniture. If you prefer offering open mic, or live stage karaoke, you don’t need to set up a separate room for the activity.
Besides the hardware, you need pro karaoke software, like Singa Business. All Singa Business options come with background music and digital signage services. With the Singa Pro software, you can also utilise digital advertising displays.
Having karaoke at your venue requires you to 1.) make sure you only run legal karaoke content, and 2.) handle the public performing rights. When your establishment is Singa-powered, you don’t need to worry about the legality of the karaoke songs – Singa's selection takes care of that. Read more about how licenses work: UK karaoke licences explained here and USA karaoke licensing here.
2.) Design the atmosphere for encouragement
When it comes to games and socialising, it’s essential to make your guests feel like they are succeeding. Keep the customers coming by designing the circumstances so that they have an effortless start with the games. It keeps them coming and makes sure they enjoy the experience.
Much of the appeal is based on creating a community feeling and support. The positive association gives a sense of progress and creates an appetite for more. Being valued just as you are is a feeling customers want to revisit as often as possible, even if they don't win the game or nail the song.
3.) Set up automation to lower staff costs
A smooth gaming experience is also about how everything runs at the facility. Automation plays a big role here. When a machine or an equal system delivers balls, darts, dice, and such, the customers keep moving, there is a sense of things proceeding, and the service is precise. Staff costs are expensive, so digitalisation supports profitability.
Computerisation also upgrades traditional games. For example, Flight Club has revamped good old dart-throwing into an engaging modern experience. They have automated scoring, digital screens, action replays, and new versions of darts. Check out how Flight Club has brought darts into the 21st century.
4.) Attract attention with your brand
The hospitality industry is highly competitive and forever evolving. The best way to draw in new customers and keep the old ones is to be unique. Food and drinks are appealing, but the real differentiation lies in exciting experience products. The entertainment is what makes the venue stand out and feel relevant.
So, how do you attract attention? Catch the eye by offering competitive socialising in your style. Be noticeable by investing in stability and clever branding. Find your special twist and package your version of gameplay or karaoke in a way no one else does it.
Is there a quirky theme at your venue? Do you offer exceptional discounts based on a certain metric? Is your food and beverage deal unbeatable? Would diversification be the key, or is specialisation your thing? Let your uniqueness shine!
5.) Boost your social media presence
Competitive socialising is highly visual. It offers customers “Insta moments” which catch attention. Everybody knows what real FOMO can cause – and voilá, the venue reaches new customers. Visitors sharing their experiences on social media is great marketing. However, remember to invest in locally targeted paid campaigns as well.
Conclusions on competitive socialising
To summarise the benefits of competitive socialising:
● Cost-wise it's a low-maintenance and relatively risk-free investment. Arcade games and activities with tables and digital boards naturally increase the price.
● It's mostly automated, which decreases overall costs, and makes processes effortless and fast.
● It creates opportunities for stretching the dwell time at a venue.
● It appeals to senses, which – thanks to customers – increases your social media presence.
● The community feeling and exhilaration create customer commitment.
In conclusion, having competitive socialising in your venue is a clear benefit. Investing in the experience industry rarely goes wrong. After all, who would say no to a thrill! 😊