Are traditional family activities set for a revival?

From BBC - December 6, 2017

With children today so focused on mobile devices like smartphones and handheld game consoles, you might be forgiven for thinking that the digital world has destroyed traditional entertainment.

But entrepreneur Luke Johnson, investor in caf chain Patisserie Valerie and sushi restaurant chain Feng Sushi, disagrees.

His Brighton Pier Group is currently regenerating the 118-year-old south coast attraction with traditional rides and amusement arcade.

Now, the former owner of restaurant chains Pizza Express and Giraffe, has bought an indoor mini golf business, Lethington Leisure, for 10.5m.

For Mr Johnson, traditional UK family entertainment is far from dead - it just needs updating for a new era.

But does anyone really want to play mini-golf and other traditional family attractions like bowling or darts anymore?

"I think traditional amusements are being reinvented for a new generation, because I think people do not want to spend all their leisure time on a screen - they want to get out of the home and socialise," Mr Johnson told the BBC radio's Today programme.

"A competitive fun family game of golf is, I think, a pretty good option," he says. And, he adds, shopping centres will be ideal for Lethington's expansion.

"Shopping centres need to drive traffic because of online shopping. Attractions will get customers to come to the shopping centre," he said.

Mini-golf, climbing, trampolining, and bowling are all popping up in them. "Increasingly I think shopping centres will become leisure centres too," he said.

Mr Johnson is also considering making a bid for Hastings Pier. The charity that owns the pier recently went into administration after failing to raise 800,000.

Going interactive

Paul Kelly, chief executive of the British Association of Leisure Parks, Piers and Attractions (Balppa), says that traditional attractions have suffered from the rise of mobile devices. But there has been significant growth in two areas, he said - indoor play centres and farming attractions.

Companies that are most successful in the industry are the ones that are able to successfully integrate some form of interactivity into traditional attractions, he said.

Designing for children


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