By: Howard McAuliffe, Pinnacle Entertainment Group

Really, the arcade is a driver of connection? That is a stretch right? Actually no, we believe that the ability of the modern arcade to facilitate shared experiences across demographic categories is a primary driver of our industry’s success.  Toddlers, baby boomers, and everyone in between can enjoy a well-designed arcade.  Furthermore, these groups can enjoy themselves together or in their own peer groups.  I know first hand as the parent of a 7 year old in a house where both parents work full time that we are always looking for things to do together.  Dave and Busters is a regular night out for us.  We can have dinner together, another shared experience, and play games afterwards.  Increasingly food and beverage is a key component of family entertainment, along with other shared attractions like bowling.  This is no accident, according to Blake Moran a leader in customer experience, a keynote speaker, customer experience futurist and the author of two books “A staggering 74 percent of Americans prioritize experiences over products. The focus on experiences is closely related to the growth of the sharing and experience economy.”  Another benefit of combining experiences under one roof is efficiency.  Modern American society places a lot of demand on time, so providing multiple experiences in one places allows the customer to maximize their time together without having to travel between venues.  Here are three keys to maximizing connections:

  • Integrate food and beverage, arcade, attractions, and other anchors like bowling or theater both physically and operationally.


  • Train and treat staff well, which includes paying them a fair wage, because these are the people who deliver the guest experience.


  • Promote events for families, as well as specific demographics. For example, sports promotions, wine tasting, and corporate events can be used to target spending beyond the family entertainment spend.


As an industry, we have focused heavily on family entertainment, but the family spend is just one aspect of the experiences we deliver.  The connection and experience that customers have with their friends and co-workers is another important aspect of their lives.  The beauty of entertainment combined with food and beverage, and an anchor like bowling is that multiple social interactions can be created in the same space and with the same staff.  Bowl Expo will be held this month in Las Vegas, and food and beverage vendors, as well as arcade related vendors, will be a large component of the exhibitors present.  Just 10 years ago, the show was almost exclusively bowling related vendors.  This phenomenon is not unique to bowling, as big box retailers and shopping malls struggle they are increasingly being converted to experience related businesses.  Cinemas, hotels, restaurants, and casinos are all searching for entertainment and food and beverage concepts to bring more consumers to these venues and keep them there longer.  This is all good news for our industry.  We are well positioned to help create these varied concepts deliver a connected experience, which translates to more business and revenues for us.