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The Oracle - Issue 01 - Aug 23

The official launch issue of The Oracle: The Gamechangers Magazine. Collating all of the latest news, opening, licensing and legal advice, latest tech, and so much more!

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THE ORACLE<br />

THE OFFICIAL GAMECHANGERS MAGAZINE<br />

ISSUE #1<br />

AUG <strong>23</strong><br />

RESEARCH:<br />

KAM: THE RISE & RISE OF<br />

COMPETITIVE SOCIALISING<br />

EVENT WRAP UP:<br />

COMPETITIVE SOCIALISING<br />

20<strong>23</strong> THE POWER OF PLAY<br />

NEW ON THE SCENE:<br />

PLATFORM<br />

SIGN UP TO<br />

GAMECHANGERS


Insights Plus by<br />

Gain actionable insights on the<br />

metrics that really matter.<br />

600+<br />

multi-site operators<br />

150<br />

million Wi-Fi logins<br />

55<br />

million users<br />

GET STARTED<br />

TODAY<br />

hello@wireless-social.com<br />

www.wireless-social.com<br />

FOOTFALL MONITORING<br />

Elevate your marketing efforts by<br />

measuring their effectiveness through a<br />

comprehensive understanding of traffic in<br />

and around your venue before and after<br />

launching new initiatives.<br />

DWELL TIME<br />

Gain insight into guest behaviour and<br />

identify longer stay periods to see if it<br />

correlates with increased spending.<br />

Compare across different locations and<br />

provide valuable insights to your<br />

operations team.<br />

BENCHMARKING YOUR OWN<br />

ESTATE<br />

Benchmarking your venues to identify<br />

areas of opportunity, allocate resources<br />

effectively, and develop strategies for<br />

improvement.<br />

BENCHMARKING AGAINST<br />

COMPETITORS<br />

Benchmarking across the industry on key<br />

performance indicators such as Opt-in<br />

rate, new user rate, repeat rate, and<br />

average logins per user.<br />

KNOW WHAT GOOD LOOKS LIKE


THE ORACLE - AUGUST ISSUE - #<strong>01</strong><br />

WELCOME TO<br />

THE ORACLE<br />

I am bursting with pride to bring you<br />

the first edition of the official e-zine for<br />

Gamechangers Organisation!<br />

Having been within the hospitality<br />

industry for nearly 20 years I am<br />

excited to watch the vibrant,<br />

innovative, emerging concepts<br />

and growth with in the sector<br />

of Competitive Socialising,<br />

Immersive gaming and interactive<br />

leisure venues.<br />

From now on I will be keeping my<br />

ear to the ground, aiming to bring<br />

you all of the exciting news, new<br />

venue openings, new concepts<br />

and investigating who and what is<br />

the next BIG thing!!!<br />

Our first issue reports on<br />

the magnificent Competitive<br />

Socialising - <strong>The</strong> Power of Play<br />

20<strong>23</strong> event hosted and powered<br />

by Inntegra on May 17th. <strong>The</strong><br />

doors opened and attendees<br />

were treated to a feast of business<br />

building content from industry<br />

leading speakers, food, drink and<br />

gaming. More of this on page 8.<br />

Our first issue introduces young<br />

entrepreneur Tom Brady, MD of<br />

GigRealm and Board Member<br />

at Gamechangers. Tom brings<br />

passion and vision to the Board<br />

by offering diversity to operators,<br />

supporting venues with audits<br />

- whilst providing insight into<br />

boosting profits with Live Music<br />

and Entertainment.<br />

<strong>The</strong> <strong>Oracle</strong> had the privilege of<br />

meeting ‘new to the industry’<br />

Tomaso and Nicolo Portunato<br />

at Platform, Canary Wharf. 5<br />

years into the business with<br />

rollercoaster challenges, hard<br />

work, investment into their team<br />

and a plan to grow. Full interview<br />

on page 27.<br />

Discover how becoming a<br />

Gamechanger member unlocks<br />

significant benefits, including a<br />

fully interactive portal with access<br />

to regular competitive socialisingspecific<br />

benchmarking reports,<br />

supplier member offers, end to<br />

end solutions, helplines and more.<br />

Every issue of <strong>The</strong> <strong>Oracle</strong> will<br />

bring you the latest industry<br />

news, interviews, Meet the Board,<br />

supplier offers and essential<br />

business building content - and I<br />

would love to hear from you!<br />

We look forward to bringing<br />

you and your teams closer to<br />

the beating heart of our thriving<br />

industry. Enjoy.<br />

Sharon Dickinson,<br />

Writer for <strong>The</strong> <strong>Oracle</strong><br />

3


05<br />

CHAIRMAN’S<br />

FOREWORD<br />

Graham Cook welcomes the launch of<br />

<strong>The</strong> <strong>Oracle</strong> and looks at how supplier<br />

members can help our operator members<br />

thrive - not just survive.<br />

14<br />

LATEST RESEARCH<br />

<strong>The</strong> Rise & Rise<br />

of Competitive<br />

Socialising<br />

KAM delves into their latest research into<br />

the competitive socialising market, and<br />

looks at the current obstacles to enticing<br />

more customers.<br />

08<br />

EVENT<br />

WRAP-UP<br />

Competitive<br />

Socialising 20<strong>23</strong><br />

A full review of the event<br />

of the year, with pictures<br />

from throughout the day<br />

and night, topped off with<br />

exclusive interviews with<br />

the speakers of the event.<br />

17<br />

Editor’s pick!<br />

RECRUITMENT ADVICE<br />

Finding the Talent<br />

You Need for Your<br />

Brand to Thrive<br />

Kathy Dyball of <strong>The</strong> Caterer looks at<br />

how the job market is poised within the<br />

competitive socialising market and how to<br />

target the right people for your vacancies.<br />

20<br />

LICENSING ADVICE<br />

Competitive<br />

Socialising And the<br />

Licensing Objectives<br />

Luke Elford, of John Gaunt & Partners<br />

Licensing Solictors, explores the four<br />

objectives within licensing, so you know<br />

what to consider when applying - including<br />

best practices for success.<br />

24<br />

MEET THE<br />

Jade Cra<br />

of Gamec<br />

Discover the orig<br />

and the brains b<br />

27<br />

NEW ON<br />

Interview<br />

<strong>The</strong> <strong>Oracle</strong> inte<br />

PLATFORM ba<br />

Wharf that enc<br />

gamers to pick


32<br />

MEET THE SUPPLIER<br />

Tom Brady, Co-Founder of<br />

GigRealm<br />

Discover more about GigRealm and why<br />

they’re perfectly poised to help operator<br />

members to enhance their offerings.<br />

CONTENTS<br />

35<br />

CHANGING THE GAME<br />

<strong>The</strong> latest openings, updates<br />

and venue news<br />

We’ve got our ears to the ground - and have<br />

pulled together the latest news and openings in<br />

the industry.<br />

BOARD<br />

ig, Co-Founder<br />

hangers<br />

ins of Gamechangers<br />

ehind the operation.<br />

30<br />

THE PUBS’ PERSPECTIVE<br />

Embracing Evolution<br />

Molly Davis of the BII reviews how how<br />

competitive socialising can give pubs<br />

the competitive edge in today’s market.<br />

37<br />

LICENSING ADVICE<br />

A Licence to Thrill<br />

Gary Grant, of Francis<br />

Taylor Buidling, reviews the<br />

best practices for licensing<br />

applications and what to consider<br />

when applying.<br />

THE SCENE<br />

with PLATFORM<br />

rviews the owners of<br />

r, the gaming bar in Canary<br />

ourages all levels of<br />

up and play.<br />

39<br />

VENUE REFRESH<br />

Another Star for<br />

All Star Lanes<br />

First look at All Star Lanes’ latest<br />

revamp in Stratford, London.


THE ORACLE - AUGUST ISSUE - #<strong>01</strong><br />

EXPERIENTIAL<br />

LEISURE REIGNS<br />

SUPREME<br />

Excite the mind and people WILL reach for their pockets -<br />

experiential leisure reigns supreme in a market that craves fun<br />

On behalf of Gamechangers,<br />

it gives me great pleasure to<br />

introduce you to <strong>The</strong> <strong>Oracle</strong><br />

magazine, dedicated to bringing<br />

our members a serve of industry<br />

news, topical discussion and<br />

commercial insights.<br />

Gamechangers débuted at this<br />

year’s Competitive Socialising:<br />

<strong>The</strong> Power of Play back in May.<br />

<strong>The</strong> expo, which has trebled in size<br />

since its conception in 2<strong>01</strong>9, was a<br />

fabulous opportunity to meet and<br />

celebrate the successes of both<br />

established and emerging players<br />

within our marketplace; an industry<br />

far exceeding the 2022 £1bn<br />

valuation in the UK, and with no<br />

signs of slowing down (highlights<br />

from the event on pages 8-13).<br />

As a founding member, I am proud<br />

to be part of the diverse talent<br />

behind Gamechangers. Through<br />

a strong professional partner<br />

network, a meaningful service will<br />

be enjoyed by operator and supplier<br />

members alike.<br />

Aside from handpicked partner<br />

and supplier support, we have<br />

made a commitment to our<br />

operator members to become a<br />

trusted supply of insightful data<br />

and research that will put their<br />

businesses at a genuine advantage.<br />

Kicking off this service, we heard<br />

from KAM media at the Expo.<br />

Of the many insights highlighted in<br />

KAMs first Gamechangers report,<br />

(found on pages 14-15), the cost of<br />

going out is a barrier that is still at<br />

the forefront of operators’ minds.<br />

More than ever, an experience has<br />

to be both ‘worth it’ and offer value<br />

for money to the consumer during<br />

a time where the cost of living has<br />

only intensified the discernment<br />

about where to spend their hard<br />

earned cash.<br />

In the contest to provide the best<br />

value, Gamechangers members<br />

have already been working with<br />

specialist partners Venners to<br />

ensure the price proposition put<br />

forward to guests is as competitive<br />

as it can be, (more details can<br />

be found on the Gamechangers<br />

members’ portal).<br />

On behalf of the Gamechangers<br />

team, I wish you happy reading and<br />

a continued successful summer of<br />

trade.<br />

With many best wishes.<br />

Graham Cook,<br />

Chairman of Gamechangers<br />

CHAIRMAN’S FOREWORD<br />

Contributors<br />

Katie Jenkins, KAM<br />

Luke Elford, John Gaunt & Partners<br />

Molly Davis, BII<br />

Gary Grant, Francis Taylor Building<br />

Kathy Dyball, <strong>The</strong> Caterer<br />

Editor-in-Chief<br />

Matt Eley<br />

Graphics / Designer<br />

Cieran de Valmency<br />

<strong>The</strong> <strong>Oracle</strong> & Content Editor<br />

Sharon Dickinson<br />

Advertising Team<br />

oracle@gamechangers.org.uk<br />

<strong>The</strong> <strong>Oracle</strong> Magazine<br />

Gamechangers Organisation Ltd<br />

Coach House, Ryeford<br />

Stonehouse, Gloucestershire<br />

GL10 3HG<br />

7


THE ORACLE - AUGUST ISSUE - #<strong>01</strong><br />

8


Residents in<br />

Camberwell were<br />

not mistaken to<br />

recognise that<br />

something fabulous<br />

was about to happen<br />

at <strong>The</strong> Lighthouse on<br />

May 17th 20<strong>23</strong>.<br />

<strong>The</strong> once grey walls were vinyl<br />

wrapped with the unmissable<br />

Inntegra pink and purple, plus logos<br />

showcasing event partners the likes<br />

of Monster, CCEP, Brakes, Hi Spirits,<br />

Molinari, Bums On Seats, Brewdog,<br />

Curious Brewery - and many more!<br />

EVENT WRAP-UP<br />

Set up took up an entire day before<br />

th event, so <strong>The</strong> <strong>Oracle</strong> turned up<br />

early to get a glimpse of the latest<br />

offerings for the day to come.<br />

This included the latest gaming<br />

technology from Home Leisure<br />

Direct, the menus for breakfast,<br />

lunch and dinner provided by Brakes<br />

and the many bars serving beers,<br />

cider, cocktails, mocktails, soft<br />

drinks, long drinks, coffee & teas.<br />

<strong>The</strong> <strong>Oracle</strong> observed that whilst<br />

our sector promotes a fun and full<br />

customer experience, behind every<br />

neon light, every food and drink<br />

offering, every smiling face as you<br />

enter a venue and every technologyled<br />

solution, there is a serious side:<br />

with entrepreneurs and veterans<br />

who have a thirst for knowledge<br />

and a want to share best practises<br />

in this wonderful industry.<br />

On the 17th, with the Monster truck<br />

in position at the entrance, the<br />

doors were unlocked and over 900<br />

guests were welcomed throughout<br />

the day and night.<br />

Over 40 suppliers set out their bars<br />

and stands offering solutions and<br />

partnerships to inspire and support<br />

a future of growth and profitability.<br />

Article continues on page 10...<br />

9


THE ORACLE - AUGUST ISSUE - #<strong>01</strong><br />

Hosted by a fabulous compere<br />

duo, Desmond O’Connor and Paris,<br />

Grande, the daytime conference<br />

delivered a programme packed<br />

full of authoritative, inspiring and<br />

research fuelled presentations by<br />

the likes of: BII, Red Engine, Social<br />

Gaming Group, KAM, PINS Social<br />

Club, SFG Club & Birdies, Disco<br />

Bowl, Rileys, Junkyard Golf Club,<br />

Swingers, NQ64, Clays, Platform,<br />

Pixel Bars, Phantom Peak,<br />

Beautiful Pubs Collective, Big Fang<br />

Collective, Purists of Play, Wireless<br />

Social, Brakes, Airship & Toggle,<br />

Inntegra and All Star Lanes.<br />

<strong>The</strong> finale was presented by<br />

Gamechangers Chairman, Graham<br />

Cook, Founder & CEO Jade Craig<br />

and Board Member Tom Brady,<br />

who unveiled the official launch of<br />

the Gamechangers Organisation.<br />

Finally the word is out!<br />

At 5.30 pm all the latest in Gaming<br />

technologies switched to freeplay<br />

and attendees were treated to<br />

continuous play on shuffleboards,<br />

pinball, arcades, foosball, air<br />

hockey, shooting hoops, Bullys’<br />

augmented reality darts and one<br />

of <strong>The</strong> <strong>Oracle</strong>s favourites, the Moto<br />

GP virtual reality motor bike.<br />

<strong>The</strong> atmosphere was buzzing,<br />

kicking the evening off with a live<br />

band provided by GigRealm. And<br />

just when the drinks really started<br />

flowing, Monster took to the stage<br />

with their amazing Monster Girls<br />

who took axle grinders to metal<br />

infused guitars, shooting white<br />

sparks across the stage. Things<br />

got heated again when Kwizzbit<br />

took to the stage to host a live pub<br />

quiz session, as teams battled it<br />

out for a Sonos music system.<br />

GigRealm then rounded the<br />

evening off with the ever crowdpleasing<br />

DJ Leona Graham, who<br />

pumped out tunes to keep the<br />

excitement building.<br />

As the bars finally called time, the<br />

smells of food drifted away, the<br />

machines switched off, the venue<br />

emptied, and finally the lights<br />

switched off, sending the room<br />

into total darkness, Competitive<br />

Socialising 20<strong>23</strong> was complete.<br />

Competitive<br />

Socialising: <strong>The</strong><br />

Power of Play<br />

will be returning<br />

in 2024 so do not<br />

miss out!<br />

10


Poised with a<br />

microphone<br />

in hand, <strong>The</strong><br />

<strong>Oracle</strong> stopped<br />

speakers for<br />

a bitesize<br />

interview<br />

capturing<br />

the highlights<br />

of their<br />

presentations<br />

Ash Moore<br />

CEO of the SFG Club<br />

In comparison to other venues<br />

that you’ve operated before, how<br />

does Competitive Socialising<br />

compare?<br />

It’s actually quite interesting,<br />

because it’s not something I<br />

had planned to get into, kind of<br />

happened fortuitously, and I felt<br />

like I was a bit of a novice to start<br />

with in understanding, as I’ve just<br />

said on stage, about our element of<br />

revenue that is pre-booked.<br />

Attending this event with a huge<br />

hospitality experience, are you<br />

still learning?<br />

Absolutely. Especially in a space<br />

that is so innovative and so<br />

creative. It’s so amazing to see so<br />

many people come into the space<br />

that have new ideas, that innovate.<br />

Very much like the old world I was<br />

in at pubs, bars and restaurants,<br />

everyone idea shares.<br />

Battersea Power Station? How do<br />

you feel to be operating there?<br />

You feel kind of privileged to be<br />

down there. <strong>The</strong> iconic London<br />

landmark is now fully open and<br />

populated. It’s an exciting time<br />

and we feel like we’re part of the<br />

furniture. <strong>The</strong>y are averaging<br />

around 110,000 visitors a week so<br />

in regards to parts of London that<br />

are struggling, you know, with that<br />

volume of footfall we are certainly<br />

not one of them.<br />

Daniel Gillbanks<br />

Co-Founder of PINS<br />

Social Club<br />

<strong>The</strong> audience and I appreciate<br />

your honesty today and the ‘f- it,<br />

we’ll try it attitude’. How did that<br />

happen?<br />

Well, I think it probably stems from<br />

maybe the element of naivety from<br />

myself and my partner at the time<br />

and maybe created that element of<br />

culture. We didn’t know really what<br />

we were going into but we’re going<br />

to do it anyway type attitude.<br />

How has it worked?<br />

From a personal journey point of<br />

view, if I’m honest, it’s probably<br />

doing it with my best friend.<br />

Probably wouldn’t have been able<br />

to do it without him, we’ve just lent<br />

on each other in the good and the<br />

bad times.<br />

With 650 bands since you’ve<br />

started, how does live music<br />

impact on your overall offer?<br />

It’s integral! We were talking about<br />

the issues surrounding competitive<br />

socialising in terms of dwell time<br />

and guests and people being<br />

able to solely just come in for the<br />

activity and then either leaving or<br />

not spending much time there.<br />

And honestly speaking, at the<br />

social club, we don’t really have that<br />

issue because people come in for<br />

bowling and then just right next to<br />

them, there’s a really busy bar with<br />

live entertainment going on right<br />

next to it’<br />

11


THE ORACLE - AUGUST ISSUE - #<strong>01</strong><br />

Zoe Knowles<br />

Craig Ryan<br />

Co-Founder of Pixel<br />

Bars<br />

Have you previously been within<br />

the hospitality industry?<br />

I have never been in hospitality<br />

other than pot washing jobs<br />

and things like that back when I<br />

was a kid. I’m the world’s worst<br />

bartender, continue to be to this<br />

day. I have a Masters in Chemistry<br />

and then I worked in economics<br />

for a little while as well, so very<br />

numbers-based, very office-based,<br />

but decided to just take a hard pivot<br />

and move into an industry that I’m<br />

really passionate about.<br />

What was the draw into the<br />

hospitality industry?<br />

In a way, kind of a selfish venture,<br />

I wanted somewhere I could have<br />

a pint, play some games and hang<br />

out with friends and do things like<br />

that. It didn’t exist in Leeds at the<br />

time and so rather than waiting and<br />

waiting and waiting we decided<br />

actually it’s a good idea, we can<br />

make this work, let’s go for it.<br />

What have you taken away for<br />

your business today?<br />

We need to bring in expertise and<br />

data analysis, working on these<br />

sorts of things, really extracting as<br />

much value as we can from every<br />

customer and guaranteeing that<br />

we can track their experience and<br />

how we can improve. I think one<br />

thing we do very well is recognise<br />

our limitations and hire people who<br />

are better than us, who can push us<br />

ahead.<br />

What are your plans? You’ve got<br />

number two, are you looking at<br />

three, four, five, and six?<br />

‘Number three is happening. I can’t<br />

say where just yet. We’re going<br />

for another large city which is our<br />

model of expansion. For me, within<br />

the next 18 months, I’d love to have<br />

five venues. Five venues is where I<br />

think there’s a real tipping point for<br />

us!<br />

Panel discussion: Market<br />

Caroline Rose<br />

Head of Sales for All<br />

Star Lanes<br />

Zoë Knowles<br />

CCO of<br />

Wireless Social<br />

Alyssa Small<br />

Sales & Events Manager for<br />

Social Gaming Group<br />

Juliette Keyte<br />

Marketing Director for<br />

Red Engine<br />

Competitive socialising is a<br />

sector in growth. How does<br />

data support you when you’re<br />

expanding your businesses with<br />

new openings?<br />

Caroline: If we were looking<br />

for a new opening site we’d be<br />

using CACI data which is really<br />

useful because it gives in depth<br />

knowledge about the local<br />

demographic and expected<br />

footfall.<br />

Alyssa: Across the world, people<br />

enjoy competitive socialising for a<br />

variety of different reasons. So we<br />

create specific profiles depending<br />

on our venues in the world, and<br />

then we replicate those profiles for<br />

new and similar countries when<br />

we’re moving into new markets.<br />

Juliette: So with our launches,<br />

we use a lot of data that we’ve got<br />

from our existing customer base,<br />

12


pubs, restaurants, bars and I think<br />

it was a combination of all those<br />

things.<br />

You mentioned on stage about<br />

investment in refurbishment, how<br />

did this play a role in this success?<br />

Craig Mayes<br />

CEO of Rileys Sports<br />

Bars<br />

You’ve been in the industry a<br />

long time. How did your wealth of<br />

experience help with the business<br />

turnaround?<br />

I’m really lucky to have had a<br />

really broad experience across<br />

hospitality, from hotels to<br />

restaurants or area management at<br />

Refurbishments are huge when<br />

you’ve got a business that was<br />

established or probably last<br />

refurbished in the late 1990s, those<br />

businesses are tired they don’t look<br />

as sparkly as your peers in Flight<br />

Club and particularly Pins social.<br />

What changes is customer service<br />

have helped with the continued<br />

growth at Rileys?<br />

For me it was about just being<br />

present in the business, injecting<br />

that passion for welcoming people,<br />

making sure they’ve got what they<br />

need, saying goodbye to them<br />

when they go, and that’s now a<br />

foundation.<br />

ing tech & how to level up<br />

whether that’s setting up for social<br />

ads and retargeting. When we go<br />

to a new city, we also don’t assume<br />

knowledge based on previous<br />

cities. We work on the ground<br />

with focus groups. We have a new<br />

venue marketing manager who<br />

does a lot of insights ahead of<br />

the launch that then supports the<br />

tactics that we deploy.<br />

Zoë how does your work help to<br />

ensure returning footfall?<br />

Zoë: We do a huge number of<br />

things. I think it’s partly around how<br />

can we help our clients capture<br />

more data so that they have that<br />

access to be able to contact their<br />

customers post visit and celebrate<br />

all the great things that they’ve<br />

done and encourage them to visit<br />

again.<br />

<strong>The</strong> <strong>Oracle</strong> was amused by the<br />

stories of excessive loyalty and<br />

simply wanted to hear again the<br />

lengths some customers go to!<br />

Juliette: Flight Club Victoria have<br />

a customer that comes in on a<br />

monthly basis. He frequently flies<br />

over from America and the word<br />

is that his first stop is a hotel and<br />

his second port is to come and<br />

have food and drink with us. To the<br />

extent that all the staff know who<br />

he is and have a great relationship<br />

with him as a result<br />

Caroline: We have a serial first<br />

dater at our Brick Lane venue. He’s<br />

known to come in up to three times<br />

a week with a different lady. But<br />

when he arrives, the acceptance<br />

team know him very well but he<br />

will pretend that he’s never bowled<br />

before, doesn’t understand the<br />

set up or what he is doing. He’ll<br />

be shown how to do it all but he<br />

is actually a fantastic bowler just<br />

trying to impress the ladies.<br />

Competitive<br />

Socialising: <strong>The</strong><br />

Power of Play<br />

will be returning<br />

in 2024 so do not<br />

miss out!<br />

13


THE ORACLE - AUGUST ISSUE - #<strong>01</strong><br />

THE RISE & RISE OF<br />

COMPETITIVE SOCIALI<br />

39%<br />

of the UK adult<br />

population have<br />

visited a competitive<br />

socialising venue<br />

32%<br />

are visiting<br />

competitive<br />

socialising venues<br />

more than last year<br />

88%<br />

of brits want pubs<br />

& bars to provide<br />

an experience they<br />

can’t get at home<br />

What are the key barriers to visiting<br />

Competitive Socialising venues?<br />

37%<br />

C<br />

30%<br />

Nothing<br />

near me!<br />

21%<br />

Booking in<br />

advance<br />

<strong>23</strong>%<br />

Finding a<br />

group<br />

Cost vs pubs<br />

& bars<br />

Do<br />

scan<br />

up<br />

14


SING<br />

45%<br />

Cost of going out<br />

wnload the full report by<br />

ning the QR code or signing<br />

via gamechangers.org.uk<br />

Any of you who have seen KAM present<br />

recently will likely have seen that 88%<br />

of Brits want pubs & bars to provide an<br />

experience they can’t get at home.<br />

We are increasingly looking<br />

to spend our ever-tightening<br />

disposable income on memorable<br />

experiences - as opposed to<br />

physical goods, particularly within<br />

the younger generations.<br />

At the most simplistic level, this<br />

can of course be achieved through<br />

providing an F&B offering that<br />

can’t be replicated in our kitchen,<br />

or atmosphere you simply can’t<br />

get from hosting at home. But at<br />

the other end of the spectrum,<br />

the opportunities to try your hand<br />

at truly unique activities and<br />

experiences are growing rapidly.<br />

Why is Competitive Socialising<br />

having a ‘boom’ moment? Well,<br />

from a customer perspective these<br />

activity-led venues are ticking<br />

MANY boxes.<br />

Released last month, KAM’s<br />

20<strong>23</strong> Competitive Socialising<br />

research found that an impressive<br />

39% of UK adults have visited a<br />

Competitive Socialising venueup<br />

from 27% in 2022. We found<br />

that 1-in-3 customers are visiting<br />

Competitive Socialising venues<br />

MORE in 20<strong>23</strong> than they were<br />

last year. So, we’ve got more<br />

customers visiting Competitive<br />

Socialising venues more often.<br />

<strong>The</strong>se venues are continuing to<br />

buck the trends and the macro<br />

pressures the hospitality sector<br />

in general is experiencing. <strong>The</strong><br />

research showed that there are still<br />

barriers to visits however:<br />

1. Cost: Of going out in general<br />

2. Location: <strong>The</strong>re are none near<br />

me - there is demand for more!<br />

Customers especially want to see<br />

competitive socialising venues in<br />

their local towns rather than just in<br />

cities.<br />

3. Cost of Competitive Socialising<br />

venues vs other pubs/bars: This<br />

is a perception piece. We KNOW<br />

Competitive Socialising is generally<br />

good value for money, but we need<br />

to get that message across.<br />

4. Having to book in advance: We<br />

need to leave space for walk insand<br />

inform customers that this is<br />

an option.<br />

<strong>The</strong> research suggests venues<br />

need to make it easier for<br />

customers to turn up and play, and<br />

also to ensure activities are suitable<br />

for smaller groups or individuals.<br />

6% of people we spoke to had<br />

visited a venue alone, and many<br />

more would if we made it more<br />

acceptable / easier.<br />

Competitive socialising is on the<br />

hospitality map, that can’t be<br />

disputed. To win in the growing<br />

sector, operators must continually<br />

deliver an outstanding experience,<br />

which starts by understanding your<br />

customers and what they want.<br />

We were delighted to launch our<br />

new research at Competitive<br />

Socialising: Power of Play 20<strong>23</strong> and<br />

to offer a complimentary copy to all<br />

Gamechangers.<br />

LATEST RESEARCH<br />

Katie Jenkins,<br />

Marketing Director of KAM<br />

Source: KAM – Competitive Socialising report 20<strong>23</strong><br />

15


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Our e-zine full of industry updates:<br />

• Data & research reviews<br />

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gamechangers.org.uk


THE ORACLE - AUGUST ISSUE - #<strong>01</strong><br />

FINDING THE<br />

TALENT YOU NEED<br />

FOR YOUR BRAND<br />

TO THRIVE<br />

Latest ONS figures show that the hospitality workforce is growing,<br />

as job creation in the sector continues<br />

From December 2022, the<br />

hospitality total workforce jobs<br />

estimate grew by 51,000, the<br />

second largest growth of any<br />

sector. Alongside this, there<br />

remain 127,000 open vacancies in<br />

hospitality. Whilst this represents<br />

a year-on-year fall of 46,000<br />

vacancies, the gap between<br />

employer demand and availability<br />

of talent is still significant, and<br />

impacting business success.<br />

At Caterer.com, the hospitality<br />

industry hiring platform, we have<br />

seen job postings continue to<br />

rise across Q1 20<strong>23</strong> with total<br />

job postings reaching over 538k<br />

in March. Regardless of their<br />

size, employers are continually<br />

searching for the talent they need<br />

for their businesses to thrive.<br />

When it comes to candidate<br />

activity, it’s an encouraging picture.<br />

Caterer.com have seen a significant<br />

rise in applications per vacancy<br />

(APV) across the total sector, with<br />

a +120% increase YoY.<br />

This is a hugely positive sign for<br />

candidate confidence and delivery,<br />

in a market desperate for talent. It’s<br />

vital for hospitality employers of all<br />

sizes to showcase their workplace<br />

brand and culture, and the unique<br />

benefits they offer, to engage the<br />

talent they need. Understanding<br />

what talent wants, and tailoring<br />

your offering to match it, is key to<br />

hiring success.<br />

<strong>The</strong> steps that hospitality<br />

employers have already taken to<br />

appeal to candidates are paying off,<br />

for all involved. Our latest research<br />

showed that hospitality employees<br />

in the UK received an average pay<br />

rise of 9.5% over the past year in<br />

comparison to the national average<br />

of 6.6%. Hospitality employees<br />

in Greater London and the North<br />

West received the highest pay rises<br />

compared with any other region in<br />

the UK, at 11.5% and 11.2%.<br />

For more insight to help inform<br />

your hiring, download our latest<br />

Caterer.com Hospitality Hiring<br />

Insider. You’ll gain a full view of<br />

hospitality hiring trends across<br />

Q1 20<strong>23</strong>, including job postings,<br />

candidate activity and salary &<br />

benefit benchmarking, alongside<br />

key insights from our latest<br />

research. Plus, if you’re looking<br />

for inspiration, our Caterer.com<br />

Catch Ups with leading hospitality<br />

employers MJMK Restaurants,<br />

Apex Hotels and San Carlo<br />

Restaurant Group, will give you top<br />

tips on how to boost engagement<br />

and productivity across teams and<br />

drive talent retention.<br />

RECRUITMENT & HR<br />

Kathy Dyball,<br />

Brand Director for Caterer.com<br />

17


CONTROL OPERATIONAL BALANCE<br />

VISIT<br />

VENNERS.COM


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YOU A SUPPLIER?<br />

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Gamechangers has been created to provide YOU, a leading supplier, with direct access to a community of<br />

operators within the competitive socialising, immersive gaming & interactive leisure space.<br />

Industry Insights<br />

Competitive socialising sector specific:<br />

• Research & insights<br />

• Benchmarking reports<br />

• Price indexing<br />

Direct Advertising<br />

Speak direct to our operator members:<br />

• Benefits & offers portal<br />

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• Advertorials & case studies<br />

<strong>The</strong> Right Audience<br />

<strong>The</strong> UK competitive socialising market is:<br />

• Worth over £1 billion in the UK<br />

• A robust sector of hospitality<br />

• A booming industry<br />

Networking Access<br />

Exclusive access & tickets to:<br />

• Supplier meet & greet events<br />

• Round tables<br />

• Discounted event partnerships<br />

Strongest sector<br />

Competitive Socialising NPS<br />

scores & sales remain strong<br />

against hospitality downturns*<br />

Access the best<br />

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<strong>The</strong> <strong>Oracle</strong><br />

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• New openings & venue listings<br />

• Latest research & data reviews<br />

• Interviews with venue owners<br />

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one easy-to-use online dashboard<br />

your one stop shop<br />

from just £4,000 per annum<br />

gamechangers.org.uk<br />

*Between Nov 22 - Mar <strong>23</strong>, NPS scores for competitive socialising brands stayed between 70-74% compared to 55-64% for the wider hospitality sector<br />

Data published by Feed It Back | April 20<strong>23</strong> | ‘Customer Experience in the Competitive Socialising Sector 20<strong>23</strong>’, p6<br />

19


THE ORACLE - AUGUST ISSUE - #<strong>01</strong><br />

COMPETITIVE<br />

SOCIALISING<br />

AND THE<br />

LICENSING<br />

OBJECTIVES<br />

As a Licensing Solicitor, it has been<br />

fascinating to watch the rise, and rise, and<br />

rise of competitive socialising. I like seeing<br />

new concepts and ideas come to fruition.<br />

I LOVE being asked to advise on<br />

the licensing aspects of new and<br />

existing competitive socialising<br />

concepts so for my first article for<br />

<strong>The</strong> <strong>Oracle</strong> I thought I would talk<br />

about how competitive socialising<br />

interacts with the core concepts<br />

that sit at the heart of the licensing<br />

process – the four Licensing<br />

Objectives:<br />

For those unfamiliar with what<br />

the Licensing Objectives are, they<br />

can be found in section 4 of <strong>The</strong><br />

Licensing Act 2003. <strong>The</strong>y are:<br />

• Prevention of Crime & Disorder<br />

• Public Safety<br />

• Prevention of Public Nuisance<br />

• Protection of Children from<br />

Harm<br />

Each objective is equally important<br />

although if you’ve been around<br />

licensed premises as long as I have<br />

Luke Elford, Partner at John Gaunt<br />

& Partners Licensing Solictors<br />

20


LICENSING ADVICE<br />

you would be forgiven for believing<br />

that they’re not treated as such.<br />

When making a premises licence<br />

application, applicants are<br />

encouraged to conduct a riskassessment<br />

of their operation<br />

against the objectives above and I<br />

think that risk assessment process<br />

is particularly prescient in the<br />

context of competitive socialising.<br />

Here are my thoughts on each<br />

licensing objective relative to<br />

competitive socialising venues.<br />

Prevention of Crime and Disorder<br />

<strong>The</strong> first thing to note about the<br />

Prevention of Crime and Disorder<br />

licensing objective is that it is<br />

forward-looking. It’s not about<br />

trying to put the genie back in<br />

the bottle, or shut the gate after<br />

the horse has bolted – it’s about<br />

keeping the bottle secure and the<br />

gate locked in the first place.<br />

<strong>The</strong> main tool in the prevention and<br />

detection of crime, and the one<br />

that police forces will invariably<br />

ask for, is CCTV. Most CCTV<br />

layouts are designed to provide<br />

full coverage of a licensed venue,<br />

but in the context of competitive<br />

socialising venues does more<br />

thought need to be given to where<br />

cameras are placed? For example,<br />

equipment and activities may<br />

create blind spots requiring more<br />

or different camera angles to the<br />

usual. Furthermore, competitive<br />

socialising equipment can be<br />

expensive and operators may wish<br />

to protect their investment.<br />

Competitive socialising can be, by<br />

it’s very nature, fun and boisterous<br />

but there is always the possibility<br />

for people’s exuberance to overspill<br />

into misbehaviour. An analysis<br />

of how that is to be controlled<br />

and if necessary, curtailed, is a<br />

worthwhile exercise.<br />

Public Safety<br />

Public safety is about the safety of<br />

the public within licensed venues.<br />

That may include the physical<br />

aspects of the venue itself, but<br />

can also include the activities that<br />

members of the public take part in.<br />

In a similar vein to the prevention<br />

of crime and disorder it is likely<br />

that most operators will have the<br />

basics covered, but the best risk<br />

assessments are going to cover<br />

a much wider remit. One of the<br />

best risk assessments I have<br />

seen turned its mind to not only<br />

customers using the equipment<br />

safely, but also the possibility<br />

that someone (either under the<br />

influence or otherwise) misusing it<br />

and if so, how they would do that.<br />

Another aspect of Public Safety<br />

that is at the forefront of everyone’s<br />

minds currently is the protect duty,<br />

or Martyn’s Law, and how venues<br />

will protect their customers<br />

from the threat of domestic and<br />

international terrorism. That<br />

remains a work in progress, but I<br />

see no reason why venues cannot<br />

get a head-start on what they<br />

might have to do by thinking about<br />

their public safety obligations now.<br />

21


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THE ORACLE - AUGUST ISSUE - #<strong>01</strong><br />

Prevention of Public Nuisance<br />

Public nuisance is a very wide<br />

concept and includes a variety<br />

of “nuisances” associated with<br />

licensable activities and licensed<br />

premises. <strong>The</strong> main ones that I<br />

come across time and time again<br />

however are:<br />

• Customer behaviour<br />

• Music noise<br />

• Plant and equipment noise<br />

Licensing recognises that beyond a<br />

certain point a customer ceases to<br />

be under the control of a premises<br />

licence holder, but problems can<br />

and do arise when customers<br />

are not managed properly when<br />

leaving licensed premises. A<br />

thorough assessment needs to<br />

be made of how dispersal will be<br />

managed and this is particularly<br />

true of competitive socialising<br />

venues where there is a tendency<br />

towards larger groups of<br />

customers due to the games and<br />

attractions on offer. Having a well<br />

thought out approach to dispersal<br />

and considering this as part of your<br />

risk assessment will pay dividends.<br />

Music noise is something that<br />

can be quite difficult to control<br />

and sound can, and does, some<br />

very odd things. Whilst music will<br />

undoubtedly add to the ambience<br />

of your venues one thing to think<br />

about is whether the noise levels<br />

internally will contribute to an<br />

uptick in noise externally. For<br />

example, a customer who has<br />

been inside a noisy premises and<br />

who has had to raise their voice<br />

to communicate with their fellow<br />

attendees is likely to continue to<br />

converse at an elevated level for<br />

some time after leaving a noisy<br />

environment for a quiet one. This<br />

can, and often does, lead to noise<br />

complaints from residents.<br />

With all of the technology on<br />

show and all of the activity taking<br />

place in competitive socialising<br />

venues it stands to reason that<br />

they need to be adequately<br />

ventilated and cooled to main<br />

a hospitable environment. <strong>The</strong><br />

need to regularly and effectively<br />

service plant and machinery<br />

sometimes gets overlooked<br />

and malfunctioning plant can<br />

lead to resident complaints. In<br />

extreme circumstances, where<br />

plant and machinery is allowed<br />

to malfunction significantly then<br />

there is also a possibility of a risk<br />

to public safety.<br />

<strong>The</strong> Protection of Children from<br />

Harm<br />

<strong>The</strong> Licensing Act 2003 recognises<br />

that children should be protected<br />

from harms associated with<br />

licensable activities and when<br />

present at licensed premises.<br />

Whether or not children are<br />

permitted to your venue is a matter<br />

for you (unless there is already<br />

something on your licence to that<br />

effect) and you will want to have<br />

a think about whether the type of<br />

competitive socialising on offer<br />

is appropriate to children. If the<br />

activity is safe for children then you<br />

might also wish to consider how<br />

they will be managed and whether<br />

there will be a cut-off time when<br />

your venue becomes adults only.<br />

<strong>The</strong> considerations that I have<br />

highlighted above are by no means<br />

an exhaustive list and will by no<br />

means apply to each and every<br />

competitive socialising venue out<br />

there – you are as varied as you are<br />

wonderful.<br />

My hope is that operators, both<br />

existing and prospective, heed<br />

these words and conduct a<br />

thorough risk assessment of what<br />

it is they are doing (or wish to do).<br />

Risk assessment is an ongoing<br />

process and as and when new<br />

trends occur, the risk assessment<br />

should be updated.<br />

Luke Elford is a Partner<br />

at John Gaunt & Partners<br />

specialising in licensing and<br />

will be providing a regular<br />

column for <strong>The</strong> <strong>Oracle</strong>.<br />

Luke can be contacted at<br />

lelford@john-gaunt.co.uk<br />

<strong>23</strong>


THE ORACLE - AUGUST ISSUE - #<strong>01</strong><br />

Jade Craig, Co-Founder of Gamechangers<br />

<strong>The</strong> <strong>Oracle</strong> met with Jade<br />

to uncover the origins of the<br />

Gamechangers Organisation<br />

and a bit more about the brains<br />

behind the operation<br />

Jade Craig, Co-Founder and Chief<br />

Executive of Gamechangers<br />

Organisation has immersed herself<br />

in the vibrant world of hospitality<br />

since she was a pre-teen peeling<br />

spuds in her mum’s restaurant.<br />

Becoming a GM at age 18, then<br />

achieving the position of the<br />

youngest area manager for Laurel,<br />

with over 20 sites on the south<br />

coast at age <strong>23</strong>, then working as<br />

an Operations Directors and New<br />

Openings Director at multiple<br />

hospitality companies. To go<br />

on to be Head of Commercial,<br />

Memberships and Events at the<br />

ALMR (now UK Hospitality).<br />

Jade has always taken on the<br />

challenges of this unique sector.<br />

When Jade turned her attention<br />

to hosting events in this space<br />

with her business Inntegra, she<br />

very quickly became known as the<br />

person to get sh*t done.<br />

Jade explains how her experience<br />

in hospitality turned into helping<br />

create the first competitive<br />

socialising organisation:<br />

“It started back in 2<strong>01</strong>8 when I<br />

noticed gamification becoming<br />

a hugely popular service at trade<br />

shows. I thought, “Hey, this need<br />

its own event!” I approached<br />

Home Leisure Direct – a prime<br />

competitive socialising product<br />

retailer in the space - and that’s<br />

when the first #CompSoc ‘the<br />

Power of Play event’ was born.<br />

It was a hit, with 350 guests<br />

attending and double that on the<br />

waiting list in 2020. Fast forward<br />

to the third event in 20<strong>23</strong>, and we<br />

had over 950 attendees through<br />

the door and 28 incredible Game<br />

Changing speakers! It’s been<br />

an incredible journey.” Jade<br />

continues: “This event was filling<br />

a need for leisure operators that<br />

hadn’t been addressed. <strong>The</strong>re just<br />

wasn’t anything specifically for<br />

them until now.”<br />

It was clear from the success of the<br />

event year on year that competitive<br />

socialising is a powerful subsector<br />

of the hospitality industry. Jade<br />

started the organisation after<br />

operators lobbied her to provide<br />

the specialist support, they crave,<br />

which she was ideally placed to<br />

facilitate, pointing out that she had<br />

the audience, interest, and loyalty<br />

of the operators in the space. <strong>The</strong>y<br />

need specialised data and best<br />

practice sharing throughout the<br />

year; so, they asked the question –<br />

could she help?<br />

24


“Operators in this space wanted<br />

their own benchmarking, their<br />

own research and their own<br />

insights. <strong>The</strong>y are their own<br />

separate entity and they needed<br />

and wanted that from me.<br />

“ You can’t<br />

accurately judge<br />

dwell time in our<br />

wonderful pubs,<br />

bars or nightclubs<br />

against the dwell<br />

time in the fast<br />

paced competitive<br />

socialising,<br />

immersive gaming<br />

or interactive<br />

leisure venues “<br />

This led to the logical emergence<br />

of the Gamechangers Organisation,<br />

which exists to help and support<br />

businesses as they evolve and<br />

tackle challenging operating<br />

conditions.<br />

“Gamechangers is a one-stop<br />

shop to support businesses<br />

year-round with everything they<br />

need. From benchmarking and<br />

research, to a free 24-hour legal<br />

helpline and HR support, to direct<br />

connections for new gaming<br />

equipment and drinks suppliers -<br />

we’ve got operators covered.”<br />

Jade continues, “I just want to help<br />

people get to where they want to<br />

be. We want to save them money<br />

from their operational costs in the<br />

long run, bottom lines, including<br />

but not limited to equipment,<br />

atmosphere and services.”<br />

Bespoke benchmarking, research<br />

and insights are available alongside<br />

the 24-hour helplines and a online<br />

magazine, for all members of<br />

Gamechangers via their website<br />

www.gamechangers.org.uk - for<br />

just £99 per month. And much<br />

like the competitive socialising<br />

sector, Gamechangers is swiftly<br />

evolving and growing with the<br />

times, including more and more<br />

services under one organisation<br />

membership price.<br />

“<strong>The</strong> Gamechangers community<br />

is all about creating a supportive<br />

and connected space for everyone<br />

involved in the competitive<br />

socialising sector. We want to<br />

keep everyone up-to-date with the<br />

latest developments, trends and<br />

opportunities.<br />

“ Our goal is to<br />

future-proof these<br />

businesses and<br />

ensure they thrive,<br />

even in challenging<br />

times “<br />

Plus, we’re always looking for new<br />

ways to enhance the experience.”<br />

As for Jade, when she’s not<br />

focussed on supporting the<br />

industry, there’s a fair chance you’ll<br />

catch her enjoying the offerings at<br />

members’ multi-faceted sites.<br />

“I’m an old-school pool player, but<br />

I can tell you, throwing an axe is<br />

surprisingly therapeutic! I also<br />

enjoy a game of Shuffleboard, and<br />

diving into virtual reality worlds<br />

using those cool VR headsets.<br />

It’s like entering a whole new<br />

dimension.”<br />

It’s clear Jade is passionate<br />

about this industry and her work<br />

to help those within it survive<br />

and thrive. <strong>The</strong> level of service<br />

the Gamechangers Organisation<br />

provides and aims to achieve for its<br />

operators reflects this enthusiasm<br />

and love for the hospitality industry.<br />

Sign up today for a<br />

GC membership<br />

www.gamechangers.org.uk<br />

MEET THE BOARD MEMBER<br />

25


Strategic<br />

Sales and<br />

Marketing<br />

experts for<br />

Hospitality<br />

and<br />

Leisure.<br />

Strategic Health<br />

Checks.<br />

Strategic Audits.<br />

Central Sales Team<br />

Reviews.<br />

Strategy.<br />

Deliverable Sales &<br />

Marketing Plans.<br />

90-day Plans.<br />

Consultancy.<br />

Industry-approved<br />

Training.<br />

White Label Sales<br />

Teams.


NEW ON THE SCENE<br />

THE ORACLE - AUGUST ISSUE - #<strong>01</strong><br />

INTERVIEW WITH:<br />

TOMASO & NICOLO<br />

PORTUNATO<br />

<strong>The</strong> <strong>Oracle</strong> visited Platform, Canary Wharf - which only opened<br />

on March 25th 20<strong>23</strong> - and immediately got the vibe! Welcomed<br />

at the door by a smiling Front of House, on walking in you notice a<br />

touch of neon, a well stocked bar and a coffee shop warmth.<br />

Greeted by Tomaso, Nicolo and<br />

Lucas, it was obvious that this<br />

concept was safe in the hands of<br />

three entrepreneurs who knew<br />

their vision. Downstairs the mood<br />

changes with a bigger bar, large<br />

Philips TV screens, a dancing robot<br />

stacked with popcorn and a bucket<br />

of beer; all poised to serve the<br />

guests in the three Gaming Rooms<br />

As many parents of boys will know,<br />

brothers and consoles are not<br />

always a match made in heaven<br />

but Tomaso and Nicolo Portunato<br />

have put any sibling rivalry aside to<br />

build a business for gamers of all<br />

levels.<br />

Alongside partner Lucas Weintraub,<br />

they have launched two Platforms<br />

in London and are already eyeing<br />

up more sites on these shores and<br />

beyond.<br />

<strong>The</strong> concept is essentially ‘gaming<br />

for all’, after Tomaso found that<br />

most gaming venues in the UK<br />

27


THE ORACLE - AUGUST ISSUE - #<strong>01</strong><br />

“ we have zero<br />

experience in<br />

the industry, but<br />

we have a lot of<br />

determination<br />

and willingness to<br />

learn how things<br />

work “<br />

tended to be aimed at players<br />

already fully immersed in that<br />

world.<br />

At Platform’s Shoreditch and<br />

Canary Wharf sites players<br />

of all abilities can book semiprivate<br />

booths and play new or<br />

nostalgic games on Nintendos<br />

and PlayStations while enjoying<br />

Platform’s pizzas, craft beer and<br />

cocktails.<br />

Tomaso Explains: “Being a big<br />

gamer myself, I thought there’s<br />

going to be amazing gaming bars<br />

around London but it wasn’t really<br />

the case.<br />

“A lot of places were more<br />

focused on the core gamers, a<br />

kind of stereotypical gamer place.<br />

So I thought Platform should be<br />

the antithesis of that –<br />

“ - super<br />

inclusive, where<br />

everyone can<br />

come and play ”<br />

After making some money with<br />

rials in 2<strong>01</strong>8 at various pop-ups in<br />

cafés and universities and securing<br />

private funding, the team found<br />

a site near the trainlines that run<br />

between Shoreditch and Hoxton,<br />

and opened for business in 2<strong>01</strong>9.<br />

One of the keys to their success<br />

was getting their recruitment<br />

right. Much to their surprise when<br />

opening Canary Wharf this year<br />

with 30 vacancies they received<br />

600 applications. Recruiting a team<br />

has been crucial. Team-members<br />

who are already committed<br />

Gamers training in all areas: front of<br />

house, bar and kitchen; mixed with<br />

trained hospitality recruits who<br />

learn gaming instead. Ensuring<br />

optimum customer experience.<br />

“My brother, Lucas and I are not<br />

from a hospitality background<br />

so we have zero experience in<br />

the industry, but we have a lot of<br />

determination and willingness to<br />

learn how things work. A really<br />

good key initial hire was Joanna<br />

Highfield. She was the GM of<br />

28


the first site and she’s been<br />

instrumental to help us get the<br />

first site off the ground.<br />

Joanna is now Platform’s Head of<br />

People and uses her skills across<br />

both venues. But before getting to<br />

that second site there was a huge,<br />

big boss of a challenge for Platform<br />

to overcome in the form of the<br />

pandemic. It hit hard and changed<br />

the direction of the business.<br />

“I wasn’t expecting half of what<br />

we’ve had to contend with,”<br />

reflects Tomaso, “When we<br />

started out I thought maybe we’d<br />

have a problem with the oven one<br />

day and be shut for a week – but<br />

then we were shut for a year.”<br />

<strong>The</strong> business went into temporary<br />

‘game over’ mode on the first<br />

anniversary of opening. Staff were<br />

retained by paying above furlough<br />

while the management team<br />

focused on cost-savings ahead of<br />

reopening such as stripping back<br />

the food offer and training staff so<br />

they could work in multiple areas of<br />

the business.<br />

“We got rid of a lot of resources<br />

that were more luxury than<br />

necessity. Founders ended up<br />

being back on the front line with<br />

our floor team. It is so easy to get<br />

tempted to hire those top-end<br />

roles but in terms of value to<br />

result we have so much talent on<br />

site.”<br />

It worked so well that Platform<br />

produced its best ever numbers<br />

between spring and winter 2021.<br />

This was enough to secure private<br />

equity funding from Actium that led<br />

to the eventual opening of site two<br />

in Canary Wharf in March 20<strong>23</strong>.<br />

It’s a different beast to Shoreditch<br />

with much more reliance on<br />

building relationships with<br />

corporates in the area. This has<br />

been helped by the innovative way<br />

that the private landlords in Canary<br />

Wharf actively help businesses<br />

support and reach out to each<br />

other through digital marketing and<br />

advertising.<br />

Tomaso likes this progressive<br />

approach that fits neatly with<br />

competitive socialising’s more<br />

contemporary take on hospitality.<br />

“A lot of landlords have a hands<br />

off approach – ‘don’t scratch<br />

our walls!’ – here, it is a lot more<br />

connected. <strong>The</strong>y are not doing it<br />

out of sympathy but because it<br />

makes business sense.<br />

<strong>The</strong> location is again easy to<br />

access via public transport.<br />

However, when 80 to 90% of<br />

business is booked in advance –<br />

the customer base is a mix of men<br />

and women largely aged between<br />

25 and 35 – prime location is not<br />

essential.<br />

He adds: “We don’t need to be<br />

“ We don’t need<br />

to be ground floor<br />

on the best corner,<br />

which is what a<br />

pub needs “<br />

ground floor on the best corner,<br />

which is what a pub needs. We<br />

just need easy access but you<br />

don’t need to be the most visible<br />

shop in the area.”<br />

Building the Canary Wharf business<br />

is the current focus for Tomaso<br />

and co, but he also has an eye on<br />

the future and plans to grow across<br />

the UK, Europe and potentially the<br />

USA before contemplating an exit<br />

strategy.<br />

For now though, it’s very much<br />

game on for the Platform team.<br />

Discover Platform<br />

in Shoreditch &<br />

Canary Wharf<br />

experienceplatform.co.uk<br />

29


THE ORACLE - AUGUST ISSUE - #<strong>01</strong><br />

EMBRACING<br />

EVOLUTION<br />

Escalated by the pandemic, we now live in<br />

a world dominated by virtual connections -<br />

but pubs have remained as essential social<br />

hubs where people gather to unwind,<br />

socialise, and create lasting memories<br />

Everything changes though, and<br />

those who don’t embrace that<br />

evolution will find themselves<br />

falling behind. So many venues can<br />

harness the power of competitive<br />

socialising to not only attract more<br />

customers but also engage a new<br />

audience.<br />

Pubs are the original competitive<br />

socialising destination with a<br />

whole host of events and activities<br />

available from pub quizzes, board<br />

game nights, darts tournaments<br />

and more. Adding some friendly<br />

competition to an otherwise quiet<br />

Tuesday evening, encourages<br />

customers to stay longer and<br />

return for more social experiences<br />

way past a pint or two with friends.<br />

But is that still enough? To attract a<br />

more diverse customer base, pubs<br />

must go beyond their traditional<br />

target audience and add something<br />

special to engage with people<br />

who might not typically visit their<br />

pub. Interactive quizzes on mobile<br />

phones, hosting gaming nights<br />

and even bringing in specialist<br />

virtual reality gaming companies<br />

to run events, pubs are tapping<br />

into the interests of a wider group<br />

of consumers, but also giving<br />

their regulars food for thought<br />

on the next trend in competitive<br />

socialising. Retro arcade games<br />

might attract a younger crowd, but<br />

it’s Generation X who played them<br />

when they were first launched –<br />

never underestimate the power of<br />

nostalgia!<br />

Competitive socialising also<br />

provides an avenue for pubs to<br />

strengthen their ties with the local<br />

community, which, let’s face it,<br />

“ Pubs must go<br />

beyond their<br />

traditional target<br />

audience and add<br />

something special to<br />

engage with people<br />

who might not<br />

typically visit their<br />

pub “<br />

Molly Davis, Head of<br />

Communications for BII<br />

30


THE PUBS’ PERSPECTIVE<br />

is what they do best, but it also<br />

creates new revenue streams, at a<br />

time where every penny counts.<br />

Our members at the BII are experts<br />

when it comes to bringing the<br />

community together, whether it<br />

be organising charity fundraisers,<br />

teaming up with local sports clubs<br />

for game nights, or hosting themed<br />

trivia nights related to the area’s<br />

history, creating a tribal sense of<br />

belonging and reinforcing its role<br />

as a gathering place for people<br />

from all walks of life.<br />

But incorporating technology into<br />

the pub experience for many is<br />

the next step, so we need to step<br />

up as an industry and make it as<br />

easy as possible for them to take<br />

advantage of the more tech-savvy<br />

customers who want something<br />

different from their night out.<br />

With constant reinvention,<br />

diversifying their offer and never<br />

resting on their laurels, pubs can<br />

breathe new life into their venues,<br />

all alongside the more traditional<br />

aspects of the Great British Pub.<br />

After all – we all want different<br />

things from our hospitality venues<br />

at different times – one day it’s a<br />

Sunday Roast after the match,<br />

another it is a few drinks in the<br />

beer garden in the sunshine and<br />

the next it could be a shuffleboard<br />

tournament with the team from the<br />

Red Lion down the road!<br />

Pubs are modern and traditional,<br />

revolutionary and comfortably<br />

familiar, offering unforgettable<br />

experiences with friends, family,<br />

and those you are yet to meet –<br />

taking competitive socialising up<br />

a notch is the perfect next step to<br />

ensuring they remain at the heart<br />

of our communities for many more<br />

years to come.<br />

“ Interactive<br />

quizzes on mobile<br />

phones, hosting<br />

gaming nights<br />

and even bringing<br />

in specialist virtual<br />

reality gaming<br />

companies to run<br />

events “<br />

31


Tom Brady, Co-Founder of G<br />

THE ORACLE - AUGUST ISSUE - #<strong>01</strong><br />

<strong>The</strong> <strong>Oracle</strong> met with Tom to investigate why Gamechangers is so<br />

important to GigRealm, and how he and business partner Reuben<br />

plan to support its members<br />

Is your background in the<br />

hospitality industry?<br />

Yes I have a long history in<br />

hospitality from my family running<br />

pubs and cafes to getting my first<br />

proper job working weddings.<br />

I’ve seen all sides of the industry<br />

but ended up venturing off into<br />

the world of tech. I spent over 10<br />

years in IT, working for blue chip<br />

technology companies covering<br />

product development, marketing<br />

and ops; across the UK and<br />

Internationally. My main focus<br />

being to bring new innovative<br />

products to market. However,<br />

my real ambition was to build<br />

something myself and start my<br />

own business.<br />

Where did music start to<br />

come into play?<br />

This is very much my co-founder,<br />

Reuben’s background. He’s the<br />

music man and spent some time<br />

managing artists in the UK & USA.<br />

He’s the avid festival goer and has<br />

his finger well and truly on the pulse<br />

when it comes to emerging forms<br />

of entertainment.<br />

His ambition though was to<br />

support grassroots musicians<br />

as they try to navigate the pub<br />

circuit, building a stable career for<br />

themselves, with the ultimately<br />

goal of cracking the music industry.<br />

<strong>The</strong> beginnings of GigRealm were<br />

born but how would it take shape?<br />

7 years ago two minds came<br />

together. Technology met music,<br />

and GigRealm was launched.<br />

Why has GigRealm joined<br />

Gamechangers now?<br />

Without a doubt Gamechangers<br />

has recognised a huge gap in the<br />

Competitive Socialising market.<br />

Operators continue to look for ways<br />

to provide different experiences<br />

alongside their F&B offerings.<br />

<strong>The</strong>re’s a desire to cater for the<br />

next generation whilst also giving<br />

people a reason to leave their<br />

home. Gamechangers is catering<br />

to this. Helping to bring together<br />

leading products and solutions<br />

to help operators navigate this<br />

new world of live gaming and<br />

entertainment.<br />

Operators ultimately have to find<br />

the right companies who can<br />

support, are trustworthy partners<br />

and work on budget<br />

Why is Comp Soc so .<br />

important to GigRealm?<br />

Many see Competitive Socialising<br />

as purely gaming. It’s so much<br />

more than that. Live music for<br />

instance can complement all<br />

brand activities, whether bowling,<br />

darts, shuffleboards and so on,<br />

to ensure customers receive the<br />

perfect atmosphere that keeps<br />

when engaged - even when they’re<br />

not playing.<br />

“ It’s about<br />

creating immersive<br />

experiences that<br />

make people want<br />

to go back “<br />

We all know it’s about dwell time<br />

and spend per head. <strong>The</strong> question<br />

is what are customers able to do<br />

when they’re waiting for the next<br />

shuffleboard to become available,<br />

or queuing at the bar? Listen or<br />

watch some live entertainment.<br />

Provide them with something<br />

they don’t necessarily have to pay<br />

for but value immensely. My goal<br />

is to protect the high street by<br />

providing experience that cannot<br />

be replicated at home.<br />

My goal is to protect the high street<br />

by providing experience that cannot<br />

be replicated at home.<br />

32


igrealm<br />

Do you have a vision for<br />

joining Gamechangers?<br />

My vision is for Gamechangers<br />

to be the go-to organisation<br />

for support when it comes to<br />

diversifying your offering.<br />

For GigRealm to continue to be<br />

a trusted partner to operators,<br />

helping them not only benefit from<br />

our services but to access other<br />

complimentary services from other<br />

suppliers.<br />

MEET THE SUPPLIER<br />

Alongside GigRealm, there is a<br />

huge potential to work with other<br />

Gamechangers suppliers such as<br />

Bums On Seats, KwizzBit and KAM,<br />

with big discussions to be had.<br />

It’s also about making it easy to<br />

have the conversation and knowing<br />

where to go in the first instance.<br />

How will GigRealm<br />

support members?<br />

We are offering a free music audit<br />

and a free trial! Win-win.<br />

Both offer a mixed bag approach.<br />

For those really unsure about<br />

whether they are doing live<br />

entertainment right or not sure how<br />

to even get started, the audit is a<br />

fantastic first step. Let’s come visit<br />

you and have an open and honest<br />

conversation. Let’s look into the<br />

current entertainment offer and<br />

pick out what is working or identify<br />

what you would like to do. Let’s<br />

leverage ROI and benchmarking<br />

analysis to help you make those<br />

decisions on what could work.<br />

What will be produced is a bespoke<br />

audit of your business to create<br />

profit, identify pricing issues and<br />

present an entertainment blueprint<br />

based on fact.<br />

Once this is completed we will offer<br />

a 3 month trial to monitor success.<br />

<strong>The</strong>n jump into a no obligation free<br />

trial to see how it really works and<br />

how easy it can be to book through<br />

technology.<br />

“ No more manual<br />

processes and<br />

hassle getting<br />

things ready for<br />

the weekend. Just<br />

find, book and<br />

pay acts all on one<br />

system “<br />

Discover GigRealm<br />

for your venue<br />

www.GigRealm.com<br />

33


BRING YOUR ENERGY<br />

SERVES UP TO DATE…<br />

GIVE YOUR CUSTOMERS<br />

WHAT THEY WANT<br />

1 IN 2<br />

ENERGY DRINKERS<br />

WOULD BUY A<br />

MONSTER ENERGY<br />

IF AVAILABLE IN<br />

YOUR VENUE * AN ANY TIME<br />

ALCOHOL<br />

ALTERNATIVE<br />

WITH FOOD,<br />

ALL DAY &<br />

ALL NIGHT<br />

MULTI-SERVE<br />

COCKTAIL<br />

MIXER<br />

Energy Drinks Have<br />

Never Tasted So Good<br />

Portfolio also includes the OG<br />

To order your POS Kit or find out more, email connect@ccep.com, call 0808 1 000 000 or visit my.ccep.com. While stocks last. *Source Hospitality outlets 2CV - Energy Audience U&A, May 2022, GB


THE ORACLE - AUGUST ISSUE - #<strong>01</strong><br />

NEW<br />

CHANGING<br />

THE GAME<br />

Competitive socialising is a thriving market. We take a look at<br />

the latest to hit the scene and combine all your latest openings<br />

and update news here.<br />

LATEST NEWS<br />

Birmingham<br />

Birmingham welcomed world-renowned Sandbox VR to its 13,000 sw ft, Grand<br />

Central location on July 19th. Toni, their cocktail making robot to keep teams of<br />

free-roam VR players refreshed by making up to 80 cocktails per hour.<br />

Bristol<br />

NQ64 opened its 10th arcade venue with 300 capacity on 6th July in Bristol. <strong>The</strong>ir<br />

gaming themed cocktails such as the Powerstar Martini & retro snacks including<br />

Space Raiders complements their nostalgic world.<br />

Brent Cross<br />

Flip Out UK operates 29 indoor adventure parks across the UK and have reopened<br />

Brent Cross with three brand-new attractions: a Battle Cannon Arena, a Donut<br />

Slide and an Inflatable Arena.<br />

London<br />

Bounce opened their 7th venue on 3rd <strong>Aug</strong>ust with an 8,000 sq ft location in<br />

Battersea Power Station. It includes 11 gaming areas and private room hires.<br />

Featuring laser activated, interactive ping pong tables.<br />

London<br />

BOXHALL City Project has had their licensing application approved. <strong>The</strong>y’re set<br />

to open their latest 17,000 sq ft site at the Metropolitan Arcade Building, London<br />

including 16 kitchens, two bars and a roof terrace space.<br />

London<br />

Immersive Gamebox opened site number 7 at a 3,600 sq ft location in Shoreditch<br />

on 7th July. Using 3D motion and projection mapping, players can play augmented<br />

reality games from IPs such as Angry Birds, Netflix’s Squid Games and Paw Patrol.<br />

Manchester<br />

King Pins opened its pilot venue in Manchester on 16th July. Featuring bowling,<br />

shuffleboard, air hockey, karaoke booths and arcade machines, the venue is<br />

stacked with games - plus food concessions & cocktails and live entertainment.<br />

Woking<br />

July 19th 20<strong>23</strong> marks the grand opening of XP Factory venue number 71 and<br />

the 47th Escape Hunt location. <strong>The</strong> experience includes both indoor and outdoor<br />

escape rooms, with a variation of themes for players to choose from.<br />

Want your venue to appear here? Contact us at:<br />

oracle@gamechangers.org.uk<br />

35


mPay & Play<br />

EPOS & payment in one<br />

device, mPay integrates and<br />

replicates your ePos making<br />

it perfect for the competitive<br />

socialising environment.<br />

Why is it great for<br />

your customers?<br />

Served and orders delivered quickly<br />

and directly to where they are playing<br />

<br />

<br />

<br />

Easy to split complex bills<br />

Can pay and order at the same time<br />

using just one device<br />

Peace of mind due to advanced<br />

security and fraud protection<br />

Why is it great for<br />

your teams?<br />

Optimises staff time – a single<br />

device for multiple operations<br />

Less time processing orders<br />

and payments – more time chatting<br />

with customers<br />

Oversight of the availability of menu<br />

items whilst with the customer<br />

To find out more contact Polaris Elements: www.polaris-elements.co.uk<br />

Tel: 0203 198 8000 Email info@polaris-elements.co.uk


THE ORACLE - AUGUST ISSUE - #<strong>01</strong><br />

A LICENCE TO THRILL<br />

Licensing, done well, is about enabling human fun. It also has the<br />

power to mitigate potential harms that fun may have on the local<br />

community.<br />

A building without a premises<br />

licence is merely bricks and<br />

mortar. With a premises licence<br />

authorising the sale of alcohol,<br />

regulated entertainment and<br />

late night refreshment under the<br />

Licensing Act 2003 that building<br />

can host a competitive socialising<br />

business.<br />

<strong>The</strong> importance of obtaining,<br />

extending or holding on to a<br />

premises licence is business<br />

critical. Specialist legal advice at<br />

an early stage of a project on the<br />

prospects of obtaining a licence<br />

and if so, to what hours, can save<br />

a fortune later on. As the old<br />

expression goes: there is only one<br />

thing more expensive than a good<br />

lawyer and that is not getting a<br />

good lawyer…<br />

<strong>The</strong> general presumption under<br />

the licensing regime is favourable<br />

to a grant of a licence in so far as it<br />

promotes the licensing objectives,<br />

namely the prevention of crime<br />

and disorder and public nuisance,<br />

public safety and protecting<br />

children from harm. But each<br />

local authority will have its own<br />

Statement of Licensing Policy<br />

which serves as a guide to what is<br />

usually acceptable or unacceptable<br />

in a particular area. <strong>The</strong> Policy may<br />

include guideline operating hours<br />

for types of premises and indicate<br />

the sort of measures it expects<br />

prospective operators to take<br />

which later translate into conditions<br />

on the premises licence.<br />

Increasingly, venues wish to<br />

operate in the heart of a town or<br />

city’s night-time economy. <strong>The</strong>se<br />

are often within “Cumulative<br />

Impact” or “Stress” Areas. This<br />

means that given the existing<br />

over-concentration of premises<br />

in a locality there is a rebuttable<br />

presumption to refuse any new<br />

licence applications or significant<br />

extensions to existing ones.<br />

But Policy is not a straitjacket.<br />

Local authorities determining a<br />

new application will always look at<br />

the individual merits of the specific<br />

application.<br />

“ If the venue<br />

is presented as<br />

something special<br />

that offers the local<br />

area something<br />

different and<br />

attractive then the<br />

Council may well be<br />

prepared to make<br />

an exception to its<br />

Policy... “<br />

... and grant a licence - even in a<br />

cumulative impact area.<br />

To maximise the chances of an<br />

application making the cut, early<br />

preparation and pre-application<br />

consultation with the responsible<br />

authorities (police, licensing, noise<br />

officers etc) and residential groups<br />

can be of enormous benefit. It<br />

needs to be handled sensitively -<br />

honey tends to attract more than<br />

acid. If a hearing is required then<br />

the role of the venue’s advocate is<br />

to persuade the Council to give the<br />

operator a chance to shine. This<br />

requires a team effort between the<br />

operators gary.grant@ftbchambers.co.uk<br />

and their lawyers with all<br />

rolling up www.ftbchambers.co.uk<br />

their sleeves for the fight<br />

ahead.<br />

LICENSING ADVICE<br />

Gary Grant, Licensing Barrister<br />

for Francis Taylor Building<br />

37


THE ORACLE - AUGUST ISSUE - #<strong>01</strong><br />

THE MAGIC OF CAPRI<br />

TRY IT MIXED!<br />

DI CAPRI<br />

TONIC<br />

DI CAPRI<br />

SPRITZ<br />

INGREDIENTS<br />

50 ml Limoncello Di Capri<br />

150 ml Tonic water<br />

Sprig of mint<br />

Lemon zest<br />

INGREDIENTS<br />

75 ml Prosecco<br />

50 ml Limoncello Di Capri<br />

25 ml Soda<br />

Sprig of mint<br />

Lemon twist<br />

PREPARATION<br />

Pour all the ingredients into a highball glass filled<br />

with ice. Stir and garnish with a sprig of mint and<br />

a lemon zest.<br />

PREPARATION<br />

Pour all the ingredients into a white wine goblet,<br />

add ice cubes and stir. Garnish with a sprig of<br />

mint and a lemon twist.<br />

Available at ocado.com<br />

38


THE ORACLE - AUGUST ISSUE - #<strong>01</strong><br />

ANOTHER<br />

STAR FOR ALL<br />

STAR LANES<br />

This month, All Star Lanes Stratford is<br />

excited to reopen after an extensive<br />

refurbishment complete with brand-new<br />

experiences and an imaginative new food<br />

and drink menu.<br />

VENUE REFRESH<br />

Taking inspiration from the glory<br />

of 1950s American diners and<br />

bowling alleys whilst adding<br />

a definitive modern twist, the<br />

reimagined venue will be home to<br />

14 of All Star Lanes’ now famous<br />

retro bowling lanes as well as<br />

exciting new activities including<br />

a state-of-the-art gaming area<br />

complete with virtual basketball<br />

and racetrack driving games and<br />

live DJs every Friday and Saturday<br />

to keep the party going.<br />

Giving guests plenty of reasons to<br />

spend a fun-filled day or night with<br />

family and friends, All Star Lanes<br />

Stratford will now offer karaoke<br />

in two brand-new, luxuriously<br />

designed, animal print karaoke<br />

rooms (aptly named ‘Rascals’ and<br />

‘Ravers’). Wannabe Beyonce’s<br />

can leave their inhibitions at the<br />

door and sing to their heart’s<br />

content, choosing from the All Star<br />

Lanes 80,000 long song menu.<br />

Accommodating 8-12 people at any<br />

one time, it’s the perfect activity<br />

for a night out with friends, family,<br />

hen/ stag and can be booked as<br />

part of an All Star Lanes package<br />

experience.<br />

Elevating All Star Lanes Stratford<br />

even further is a newly designed<br />

bar space serving a menu of<br />

handcrafted classic cocktails<br />

and delicious All Star Lanes<br />

originals for those who like to<br />

experiment including an exotic<br />

Chilli and Mango Margarita and<br />

fruitily seductive <strong>The</strong> Empress.<br />

Now separate from the bar is the<br />

All Star Lanes restaurant offering<br />

a family-friendly experience and<br />

revamped food menu including<br />

a range of comforting American<br />

classics using tempting summer<br />

flavours. New dishes on the menu<br />

include Lobster Roll, California<br />

Superfood Salad, the Hot Chick<br />

burger with Sauce Shop Hot Sauce<br />

plus the all-time classics including<br />

tacos, ribs and burgers; as well<br />

as epic sharing plates including<br />

an awesome, TikTok-friendly<br />

Tomahawk steak served with<br />

Kansas BBQ ribs, jalapeño corn<br />

bread, corn on the cob, roasted<br />

cherry tomatoes, skinny and<br />

sweet potato fries and a choice of<br />

bearnaise or gravy.<br />

Hugely popular across the capital<br />

and known as London’s original<br />

good time, All Star Lanes boasts<br />

four venues (Brick Lane, Holborn,<br />

White City and Stratford) and<br />

offers the perfect space for family<br />

celebrations, stags, hens, corporate<br />

events and childrens’ parties.<br />

39


LICENSING ADVICE<br />

THE ORACLE - AUGUST ISSUE - #<strong>01</strong><br />

INCREASE<br />

REVENUE.<br />

IMPROVE<br />

CUSTOMER<br />

LOYALTY.<br />

DIFFERENTIATE<br />

YOURSELF<br />

FROM<br />

COMPETITORS.<br />

40

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