While concerts and conferences may not happen for awhile how will movie theaters, bars/restaurants, and bowling centers get patrons back in the doors?
While normal commerce is in something resembling suspended animation at this time the business world will (hopefully) return at some point in the not too distant future. What it will be like is anyone’s guess although it is fair to say that it will be a new normal for an undetermined period of time. How businesses respond to the new environment will determine how quickly they can return to profitability.
When we all get back to our lives there will still be a desire to practice some modified form of social distancing, a new way of life we never knew existed until a month ago but will stay with us for some time. Airlines – eager to get people back up in the air – may start removing the middle seat to create some space as well as lower the capacity. Movie theaters may remove every other seat to create space; the back support can stay in place for the day when the seats can be replaced. And restaurants can remove half the tables so patrons are further apart, and perhaps build more booths as that creates more separation between parties.
I certainly want to get back to visiting restaurants, movie theaters, and travelling again. But given my family history I am very concerned about how the bowling industry will come back. There aren’t as many centers left as the business landscape has changed dramatically since the glory days of the 1960’s. A colleague of mine recently sent me a list of centers dated 1963 in my old stomping grounds, Nassau County in New York. Back then there were 48 centers in the county; today there are just 10.
Being in business and marketing all these years I have not been blind to the many changes to the game as full-service entertainment is what the current market is looking for, leading to the creation of such establishments as Pinstripes, Lucky Strike, Splitsville, and Main Event. But as we come out of this pandemic both these new venues as well as traditional centers will be dealing with the same challenge – how to bring people back in while adhering to some form of desired social distancing. In the initial stages both leagues and open play may need to operate differently, perhaps with an open pair between each set of league teams and an open lane next to each open play group. Professional tournaments may have to follow the same format for some time as well.
Those are just the initial thoughts that I’ve had and I’ll probably think of more over time. But I welcome more ideas from all the business and marketing talent out there as I want to do all that I can to help the game that has meant so much to my family since the 1920’s when my grandfather first gained national attention. Please post your comments/feedback here or contact me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Andy Varipapa II