the world changes, it is amazing how slow some consumer-based industries are to change to stay in sync with the competitive landscape and the changing consumer. One of those industries is what is sometimes referred to as location-based entertainment or away-from-home entertainment. This, of course, includes cinemas, theaters, amusement parks, family entertainment centers and other entertainment-oriented venues. Although not a part of the entertainment industry per se, mixed-use projects that incorporate entertainment – such as urban entertainment centers, malls, and many forms of shopping destinations – need to be included in this discussion.
We believe the location-based entertainment (LBE) industry has developed a mindset, a set of assumptions so entrenched that most of its members are not even aware of the influence this mindset has on their thinking. This tendency to fall back on viewing the industry “the way things have always been done” makes it extremely difficult for the industry to break out of its mold and stay competitive.
So exactly what is the main component of this mindset or paradigm? It’s the very name by which the industry calls itself and the venues it creates – entertainment. By believing the industry is in the entertainment business, many of these entertainment-type attractions and venues are fast becoming out of sync with modern consumers and undermining the attractions’ long-term prospects for success.
The big difference between leisure and entertainment is that leisure is defined in terms of the consumers’ time, free time, whereas entertainment is defined more as an activity that is offered to them. While entertainment is generally something that takes place in free time, it is only one possible type of leisure activity, and that is where entertainmentmisses the opportunity; it is narrow-minded in its view of consumers’ pleasurable activities.
So what happens is that by defining themselves as entertainment, many of the attractions and activities the industry creates are far too limited in scope. Entertainment restrains the thinking of what type of free-time experiences the consumer is looking for as well as what can be offered. In a sense the entertainment mindset says, “We are in the entertainment industry, so we have to offer only entertainment options to the consumer.”
The problem with the focus on entertainment is that in most cases the consumer is looking for more than just entertainment to entice them to leave their home to visit a destination venue. They are looking for the maximum benefit they can obtain for the expenditure of their free time. In today’s world, for middle and higher income consumers, time is their currency. The growth of large-screen high-definition televisions and the DVD and cable industry are examples of how consumers are now able to get a movie entertainment experience in their own homes without the added effort, time and expense required to visit a movie theater. Cinemas are struggling to keep up attendance against the in-home DVD and cable television movie-on-demand competition.
Another issue is that by defining itself only as entertainment, the LBE industry sets itself up to think in terms of competing with other entertainment options rather than competing with all of the consumers’ free time or leisure options, both in the home and at location-based leisure venues.
In almost all situations, when consumers are considering leaving their home for a leisure experience that includes some entertainment, they are looking for more than just entertainment. In fact, many times, the entertainment is not the largest part of their equation or the main motivation. When friends and families go out together, they often are primarily looking for a social experience, an opportunity to talk and be together. The entertainment might only be the excuse to get together. Americans, at least, have a hard time socializing unless they are engaged in some form of activity. Leisure activities are often viewed as opportunities for relaxation and rejuvenation, a time away from the chores and stress of life, a break from the routine, not necessarily to be filled with entertainment.