Don’t call it a comeback

  • 17th April 2019
  • news

Electrocoin’s John Anthony Stergides takes stock of the UK’s resurgent coastal leisure market, the products that have driven success to date and how the industry can keep pushing forward.

Coastal venues are the backbone of the UK leisure landscape and have been for decades. However, due to the success of these locations being intrinsically linked to that of the wider industry it is integral that everyone from operators to government officials support the market to the fullest extent, argues John Anthony Stergides.

In regards to this need for constant progression, Stergides, one of the new generational wave entering the industry, was unequivocal. “Seaside operators have to look into diverse options to keep up with competition and to be able to provide that unique experience that cannot be had at home or on your smartphone,” he said.

“New VR games are an example of the current trend although it is starting to wane slightly, but it still represents something different. Operators have to keep up with the latest products to keep the excitement otherwise visitors may lose interest.”

As an example of this Stergides highlighted the positive work undertaken at Clacton Pier where a programme of investment has seen the site diversify with a mini golf area, amenities and new fun fair rides, turning itself into a mini resort destination in the process.

That said classic arcade fare such as redemption continue to play a big part in seaside progression, with the growing popularity of the product type continuing at blistering pace.

“Redemption games and products are growing in popularity with families as they cannot play these at homes or on their smartphones. It is creating an entertaining environment where families can socialise, for example the new Hit and Smash which is a carnival style game is fun for all the family,” said Stergides.

“We are continuously looking at new areas of development for the seaside but the key element is to provide a product that is fun for all the family. Creating an experience that can be played as a family or as individuals regardless of the age is key hence when you look at the latest line of products like the Hit & Smash, Drop A Winner and the Skill Cut,” he added.

All of this has contributed to a feeling that the British seaside is in the midst of a comeback, but Stergides was reticent to use that particular term, and for good reason.

“British seasides are on the rise but ‘comeback’ is not the correct word in this case as they have always been there,” he said. “However due to a lack of investment by local authorities, this discouraged private investors. However, over the last five years there has been a new trend with investment from both sides.”

A key area in which this investment has been geared towards has been cashless technologies. Card based payments now account for the largest sum of UK retail spend and operations have had to upgrade accordingly. Whilst this shift is statistically irrefutable the rumours of the demise of hard currency have – for now at least been greatly exaggerated.

“As long as cash exists, it will always be a popular option for seaside operations,” said Stergides. “However, with the way society is moving towards cashless, it is certainly an area that needs addressing especially with the number of cash points reducing on a daily basis. At this stage I think operators should consider a system like Intercard whereby they can combine cash and cashless together providing additional bonus credits when using cashless.”



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