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Bowling Entertainment Centers: Rolling People Counting Tech Into Operations

April 7, 2022

Our journey to understanding the role people counting technology plays in modern bowling entertainment centers.

Since inception, the team at SenSource has been on the lookout for new and unique applications that can benefit from people counting technology.

Some are quick wins, like state welcome centers, and some are flops, like counting pigs entering a barn at a commercial hog farm (seriously, we tried).

We’re always up for hearing-out new opportunities that come our way.

In recent years, we’ve gained increasing interest from the family entertainment center, FEC, industry including bowling entertainment centers. Our big question was:

Don’t bowling alleys just look at their point-of-sale data to analyze how many people visited their venue?

During the IAAPA Expo, our booth staff was approached by a member of the BPAA organization, Bowling Proprietors’ Association of America, describing how their bowling members express interest in people counting technology like SenSource’s. It turns out, we had some research to do ourselves.

The bowling alley pictured in our minds was of days gone by – of a dingy, dark building housing rows of wooden alleys, visited on Wednesday league nights.

It turns out, the modern bowling entertainment center is a far cry from its former identity. Bowling may be the venue’s anchor, but most are full-on entertainment centers with restaurants, bars, arcades, laser tag, mini golf, and loads of other attractions.

When Brunswick Bowling works with center owners to modernize their facilities, Brunswick emphasizes the importance of technology:

Technology is now an integral part of the bowling experience for both proprietors and bowlers. New solutions to innovate gameplay, center environments, operations management, and safety are changing business owners and guests in-center experience. Refreshing a bowling center’s offerings and features is a key indicator for customers of the dedication that proprietors have to their business’ success and acts as a predictor of the good times they can expect at the lanes.

Visitor counting at family entertainment centers

Bumper cars and HyperBowling are just a couple of the attractions available at modern bowling centers.

With a new understanding and appreciation for the modern bowling center, it makes total sense why owners are seeking out people counting technology. A guest could enter the facility and never purchase a game of bowling, instead meet friends at the lounge and play the arcade. These venues’ layouts intentionally encourage guests to mill around and discover new attractions. And that’s why people counting technology has entered this industry, to quantify and analyze how guests interact with the space

Guest count data helps center owners achieve their goal of creating an engaging and entertaining environment.

Sensors installed at the door provide data such as total traffic, peak and non-peak traffic times, traffic patterns, and occupancy. Put into practice, the data is the baseline for scheduling staff, maintenance, and promotions.

Sensors installed throughout the interior of a bowling center determine most visited zones, where guests spend the most time, how long guests are waiting in lines, and general visitor journey data. Armed with this information, center owners can really hone-in on the attraction layout and optimize how guests navigate the center, avoiding bottle-necks and encouraging participation.  

So, to answer our own question, no, the modern bowling entertainment center cannot rely on point-of-sale data to paint the full picture of how many guests visited today. But a people counting system will – and then some. According to Allied Market Research, the global FEC market is growing at a compound annual growth rate of 10.9% between 2021 through 2030. We’re excited to venture into this growing market and help bowling centers make data-driven decisions that compliment and optimize their modernization strategies.