Family Entertainment Centers (FECs) are being touted as the next big thing in the field of entertainment in shopping centres in India. These are usually small amusement parks or zones that typically serve local communities in big and small cities and are designed to keep the entire family engaged, generally at a significantly less per-person cost than a traditional amusement park.
According to report by Allied Market Research titled ‘Global Opportunity Analysis and Industry Forecast, 2018 – 2025’, growth in per capita disposable income, availability of diversified gaming and entertainment options, and favorable youth demographics in the Asia-Pacific region drive growth of the family/indoor entertainment centers market.
Furthermore, continuous launch of new FECs supporting family activities, F&B integration, and participatory play, substantial growing investments by malls in the Asia-Pacific region and integration of new technologies such as virtual reality gaming, 3D technology, and others provide opportunities for the growth of the market.
Future Market Insights forecasts revenue from the Global Family/Indoor Entertainment Centres market to increase from about US$ 17 Billion in 2017 to about US$ 61 Billion by 2027 end, representing a CAGR of 13.3 percent from 2017 to 2027.
This increasing revenue growth is attributed to the continuous launch of new FECs supporting sustained growth of this market.
Technology to Enhance CX
One of the main reasons this market is consistently growing is a supportive wave of new technology, just the thing that attracts tech-savvy shoppers and the ever-connected Millennials.
Talking the role of technology in the success of an FEC initiative, Udit Batra, Cluster Head, Smaaash Entertainment says, “Let’s take the example of bowling alleys. This sport has gone through many changes through the centuries and perhaps one of the biggest changes was when human pin-setters were widely replaced by machines – making the game faster, more fun and cost-efficient. The automated pin-setter represents technology that improves the customer experience and makes a business more profitable.”
Mumbai’s Viviana Mall has been at the forefront of one of the most technologically advanced FECs. Revealing key details, Manoj K Agarwal, Chief Executive Officer, Viviana Mall says, “The element of technology comes into the FEC picture with respect to the functioning of different machines in various rides and attractions.
Technology in terms of gaming attractions is also evolving. For instance, in our FEC, Virtual Reality (VR) gaming has gained popularity and many games have adapted the element of VR. This provides customers with a completely new gaming experience.”
The total sq. ft. area that is dedicated to the FEC zone at Viviana is about 30,000 sq.ft.
“In the last two years, we have upgraded our FECs by adding new arcade games, amusement park themed rides adapted for indoor functionality, and other gaming options. In addition to this we have also made good use of the extra space by restructuring bowling alley lanes and adding another major attraction – the trampoline jump, sky race, drop and twist to name a few. The timely upgradation cycle at Viviana Mall does serve as a perfect testament to our efforts in creating unparalleled experiences for our customers,” Agarwal adds.
India’s only mall to have a 360 degree indoor roller coaster, Infiniti Mall’s FEC has set standards for other to follow in terms of making best use of limited space being available.
Mukesh Kumar, CEO, Infiniti Mall states, “We have Fun City as an FEC which occupies approximately 45,000 sq. ft. area and we are also in talks with another brand to set up another large play area.”
On the role of technology, Kumar adds, “Technology is, in some forms, directly related to happiness. Technology is both a disruptor and enabler for the FECs. Despite of all new entertainment option, people still desire face to face interaction and socialising.
Technological advancements are improving convenience and customer service by way of cashless payment, self-service, and pay on entry enhancing the activity itself by creating a more immersive environment.”
Infiniti too offers its patrons a chance to indulge in AR and VR based games and they have recently introduced a POS-based Rewards Program where earning of points happens at the POS of the store.
Kumar says, “Our enhanced Rewards Program provides a signifi cant push in terms of footfalls and overall experience.”
Putting Technology to Use
On how technology can be used by malls to reinvent their FECs, Agarwal shares of his valuable experience saying, “First, one opportunity is gesture control, although this is still in the development stages malls can introduce gesture control gaming where players can do certain gestures that will result in them playing the game. Second, we have the augmented reality gaming where you have a 3D image or a 3D projection coming out and customers can play the game which results in an interactive gaming experience for the customer – for instance if a player has a holographic 3D projection coming out in a fight sequence in a game the player would have to shoot the 3D image with a virtual gun. Third is the introduction of group gaming – where you have people playing together in a group on ground much like Internet-based. They could be either be playing against each other or even be as collaborators taking up a particular assignment in the game. Next is also the introduction of an online gaming zone within the FECs in malls where players can pay a nominal fee and players could play games on a large screen in the FEC, this is similar to the concept of internet gaming on a phone or a tablet.”
Kumar shares his views on how technology can be best put to use by malls to run their FECs saying, “Innovative malls are incorporating value added elements like concerts, art centers, spas, fitness clubs to entertain the customer. Technology can be used to extend the relationship with the customer before and after the mall visit through social media. It can also be used to take the shopping experience to the next level by introducing Omnichannel model where customer can see a product or a ride/game and can book/block it on the App and can pick or avail it once visit the mall.”
It is no exaggeration to state that with technology, a mall can completely reinvent its FEC.
Shoppers today visit a mall to spend their leisure time in company of their friends or family and engaging in initiatives and activities that are otherwise not easily accessible to them. With e-commerce, shopping is taking place within the comforts of one’s home as well but the adrenalinrush that one can experience at an FEC remains unmatched. And this makes it imperative for a mall to ensure that its FEC is not only technologically sound but advanced as well.
Agarwal aptly concludes, “Technology will re-invent the ways in which FECs can provide greater, 360-degree customer experiences in terms of rides and gaming options. While technological advancement introduced us to innovations such as gesture control, group gaming, Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality and WAN network gaming, these technologies will diversify the options available in the near future. With the introduction of these technologies, customers won’t have to go too far to gain experiences,” he concludes.