Competitive socialising: the rise and rise

Competitive socialising: the rise and rise

Since the world went into an unprecedented lockdown back in 2020, there has been a significant shift in the popularity of more interactive experiences.

This no longer means just enjoying dinner and a few drinks with family and friends. Innovative individuals have been thinking of ways to bring a little more liveliness to a night out for the masses – including some good old fashioned competitive fun and imaginative theming to keep everything interesting… where a unique experience is the end goal.

Across many venues, this has included the likes of interactive darts, ping pong, pool, adventure golf… and even axe throwing to really test the boundaries. Couple this with a high-end bar experience featuring a wide range of delicious drinks and mouth-watering food – you have yourself a fun-filled evening without having to trapse around multiple places – where the party is all under one roof!

So, is this why the competitive socialising concept is growing rapidly – but why does it appeal to so many people… and what could this possibly mean for the future?

Welcoming all walks of life

Effectively, many adult competitive socialising activities can be enjoyed by a wide variety of people. From the age of 18 to 108, the inclusivity of game play is something that visitors highly value – where many generations now seek experiential activities other than tangible products. With this in mind, the idea of keeping the cost of play relatively low allows for all demographics to take part and, depending on the venue, there is usually a selection of activities – so groups can play as many, or few, games as the budget allows!

This usually means that there is more variety available for those seeking a different kind of night out, such as students seeking a night away from the usual Student Union, or teambuilding activities for the office social. Even activities featuring less people – such as a date or double date night – allows for something a little more varied.

Picture-perfect moments

With such a high percentage of people enjoying multiple social media platform and with optimised smartphone cameras becoming even more accessible – many visitors are social media connoisseurs and their own content marketers at just a few taps of the screen!  There is always the need for prime picture and short video opportunities for the likes of Instagram and Tik Tok. Of course – some of these visitors monetize from their own venue visits, and this is something to consider. There are thousands of verified influencers in the UK alone and, according to Forbes, this trend will only continue to grow in 2023. Competitive socialising venues are all too aware of the importance of this, and influencers are often found on the VIP launch list… so the experience must be second-to-none.

With imaginative theming, innovative game play, special effects, and impressive lighting… the opportunities to wow visitors aesthetically are pretty much endless. Many competitive socialising venues have a USP – whether it’s welcoming visitors to different worlds like Puttery in the US, or offering a multitude of games in the world’s first “battle bar” with Boom. Whatever the preference – a picture-perfect moment is never far away.

For the love of games

Recently, footballing legend Gareth Bale decided to channel his passion for the other sport in his life – golf – into a competitive socialising venue with the sport at its’ heart. Par 59 was born in Cardiff with the view to become the “home of mini golf” within sleek and stylish venues filled with delicious food and drink, music, and fun. Soon after, Par 59 Bristol was launched to follow suit.

When the passion for sport is coupled with a great venue experience, like Gareth Bale’s Elevens Group and creative events company The DEPOT as mentioned above, amazing things happen. People see the appeal – they want to try something a little different (yes, there are people out there who have yet to pick up a golf club or putter!) and for some, the genuine love of the sport is ignited.

Future-proofing visitor experiences

By 2026, 25% of people will spend at least one hour a day in the metaverse for work, shopping, education, social and/or entertainment, according to Gartner, Inc.

Although still in fairly early stages, the metaverse is fast approaching in this respect, whether businesses are prepared or not. This is something that competitive socialising venues can jump on when considering gaming and entertainment – and they need to keep a finger on the pulse of what can be added to their venue. It could be argued that competitive socialising venues are so popular because they have the opportunity to retain an “edge” to their playability if it’s tech infused and current. For example – what’s to stop a virtual reality competitive socialising game take place with another group in a different location – say – the other side of the world?

For many, this is an exciting prospect and one that can help retain relevance in a rapidly shifting market.

Rapidly changing retail space

Over the past 10 years in particular, retail space has reduced at an alarming rate. Many consumers have taken to choosing ecommerce over in-store experiences and even new businesses are choosing to operate solely online… some built almost entirely on social media.

This has, of course, led to the closure of some much-loved stores and with it – a high proportion of prime retail space has become vacant and disused. This also applies to hospitality, where low footfall and under-performing areas will feel the pinch.

This is where competitive socialising venues can capitalise on an exciting new investment… and not necessarily just utilising large spaces. Hatchet Harry’s, for example, opened one of their newest axe throwing venues within a former greetings card shop in Derby! Meanwhile, you have the likes of the lucrative Boom Battle Bar franchise opening a 16,000 sqft venue on London’s iconic Oxford Street – offering axe throwing, beer pong, crazy golf, shuffleboard, augmented darts… and much more.

Brilliant brand partnerships

Competitive socialising collaborations come in all shapes and sizes. As there are multiple facets to many venues, there are opportunities in abundance in this respect. Take Escape Hunt, for example. Escape Rooms are becoming increasingly popular as visitors look to take on a unique challenge in a small group that really puts their skill, collaboration (and relationships) to the test. So, what better place to carry on the party after the game than the infamous Boom Battle Bar?

XP Factory, who operate Escape Hunt, purchased Boom Battle Bar in 2021 and have since seen positive trading performances. It seems like a no brainer that the two could work brilliantly in tandem, as a whole new element is added to the experience.

And it’s not just entertainment. Par 59, which now boasts two popular venues in Cardiff and Bristol as previously mentioned, partner with selected food outlet Dirty Bird to bring delicious dishes to life with a street food twist. In line with the adventure golf theme, they also changed their name specifically for the venue to “Dirty Birdie” and incorporated golf balls into their branding.

What’s in store for the future?

Consumers continue to gravitate to unique experiences and creating memorable moments (and not just for social media). Entertainment is altering to reflect this and innovative venues will surely keep up with the trend. This is why we see so many clients pushing the boundaries with imaginative play – for example, our work with Puttery in the US, Par 59 and current projects that are yet to be launched…

We have incredible in-house creative and technical designers who can begin by bringing the concept to life on the page, utilising game interactivity and bespoke theming for a truly unique experience. Our highly experienced sales and project management team are then equipped to turn your dream into a reality.

If you want to future proof your venue and create something that will increase dwell time… and keep your customers coming back for more… we would love to help you. Contact:

Latest Project

Tui Marella Cruises Adventure Golf

Marella Voyager is the latest newly refurbished vessel to enter the Marella scene. Formerly Mein Schiff Herz, Marella Voyager is the second of two Century-class cruise ships operated by TUI Cruises. Built for Celebrity Cruises at the Meyer Werft shipyard in Papenburg, Germany, Marella Voyager is now equipped with a vast variety of bars and restaurants, as well as an indoor cinema, a pool deck – complete with a swimming pool and whirlpools – and a big show lounge.

Marella’s product development team were looking for something else a little different to bring to a ship undergoing an entire bow-to-stern refurbishment… unlike anything they’d seen on cruise ships before! So, the team engaged with a variety of suppliers and eventually chose Greenspan Projects to work on the design concept for a unique, exciting attraction that will keep passengers entertained… atop The Veranda, overlooking the sea.

Greenspan’s creative design team set to work to produce a concept that could be enjoyed by all… and, of course, centred the story on none other than the beautiful big blue sea! Pops of colour in the coral reef, creativity with realistic rockwork and enhanced playability were key elements considered. Marella are conscious that all passengers should have the opportunity to enjoy all aspects of any attraction on the ship, so accessibility and safety were also factored in from the outset.

Upon completion of the design concept, Marella instructed the Greenspan project team to begin the build in Cadiz, Spain, while the vessel was in dry dock. Utilising expertise from marine specialists within the project management team, challenges needed to be considered during the build in terms of factors such as movement of the ship post-build – as this is no static attraction! For safety purposes, for example, the rock formations needed to be brought away from the external railing to account for movement of the vessel and overall safety – plus the space constraints were something a little unique to work with… but not something the Greenspan team couldn’t handle!

The experience of the build was ultimately enjoyed by many members of the Greenspan team – from our estimators, to procurement, project management, marketing and the senior leadership team… it has been a pleasure to be a part of during our first marine attraction build.

Lawrence Benneton, Hotel Refurbishment Manager for Marella Cruises, said: “Marella were very impressed by Greenspan’s “can do”, positive attitude. Working closely with the Marella team on their first marine project, there were a few unbeknown curveballs thrown their way, which they adapted to proficiently.

“We have enjoyed working with the Greenspan team… and we really look forward to working with them again in the future.”

Managing director of Marella Cruises Chris Hackney went on to say the line is now at its largest capacity, giving agents a “fantastic opportunity” to push sales. “We now have five ships in our fleet which means our capacity is at the largest it has been so we can take more customers away than ever before. This makes it so much easier for agents as they know that we will deliver a quality product, and now, with the addition of Marella Voyager which truly is our best ship yet, there is even more of it.”

“It has been my pleasure to officially open the adventure golf on Marella Voyager, and we look forward to seeing it thrive.”

Rod Morton, CEO of Greenspan Projects, said: “We’ve found that designs that allow people to congregate comfortably around key areas like bars and golf holes help to create an atmosphere of excitement and anticipation. Safety is also a huge element within what we do. We follow the International Maritime Organization’s regulations across all products that we install onboard vessels. From wallpaper and fabrics to artificial grass, we ensure all products are certified with the ship’s wheel mark to confirm authenticity.

Working with Tui Cruises and Marella has been a genuine pleasure and we look forward to many more marine builds for them in the future!”

Find out more about Marella Voyager and her itinerary by clicking here. 

Inspired? Check out our more about Greenspan in the cruise industry here!

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