Going to the pub is no longer enough. Today’s customers want more from their social lives – and this has meant a rise in the number of venues offering leisure pursuits other than drinking.

Activities such as table tennis, darts, golf and bowling are certainly not new. But prefixed with the word ‘social’, they have started to attract a new audience in urban areas. The mix of simple-to-pick-up activities, technology, plus food and drink – aka competitive socialising – seems to be a winning combination.

Experiences such as escape rooms, Crystal Maze-style challenges, and adult soft play all add to the competitive socialising phenomenon. There’s even the opportunity to throw Canadian axes at large wooden targets.

Many consider competitive socialising the next big thing in leisure, others think it is hype.

However, the recent Retail News report by Knight Frank warns against labelling competitive socialising as simply a fad. The report identifies the evolution of sub-sectors in the industry, such as bowling alleys, trampolining centres and cinemas, and their role in “spawning a raft of innovative new operators.”

The report also states “the leisure market can’t afford to stand still – and it isn’t.” Competitive socialising is big news right now – particularly in London.

competitive socialising

The future of competitive socialising

Our founding partners have been heavily involved in the Leisure & Hospitality sectors for many years. Martin Sherwood has been involved with many leisure & hospitality small company fundraising within the tax-efficient investment market, working very closely with a wide range of leisure & hospitality entrepreneurs. He agrees that “competitive socialising is a major new trend”.  

This is echoed by Christian Elmes too. As a non-executive board member of several leisure & hospitality concepts, Christian believes that we should recognise that “Competitive socialising is growing in importance and will be a contributor to growth and a point of difference for operators in the hospitality market over the coming years.”

However, he warns “there will be losers. These could be concepts that do not fit well with traditional hospitality and operators who fail to get traction.”

On the other hand, “the winners will be those that can seamlessly mesh their concept with a high-quality food and drink offering and scale from a property and delivery perspective in order to provide good returns for investors over the medium to long-term.”

The more operators are able to evolve their offering to meet customer demand, creating new concepts and experiences along the way, the more successful they will be in the long term.

If you’d like to be involved in the future of the London leisure and hospitality sector, talk to the team at Enterprise Investment Partners today.


Article categories: Leisure & Hospitality

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