Go-karting as anchor attraction – the best cure when shopping malls struggle with footfall
If you’re looking to save a struggling shopping mall or you just want to spruce it up to establish yourself as the go-to place in your area, we’ve got good news. It’s completely doable and one of the busiest shopping streets in London is the proof!
Once a struggling shopping destination nearing its doom is now a flourishing “malltertainment” center with one of the highest footfalls in central London. Read on to find out how they’ve been able to turn their fortune around even though they were on the brink of failure … and how you can do it too!
The rise of “malltertainment”
As the name suggests, malltertainment is a form of a business that combines shopping malls with entertainment content. It began to gain popularity after the 2008 global financial crisis and it grew massively during the Covid-19 global pandemic.
There has been a huge shift to online shopping due to lockdowns and other limitations. Huge and well-renowned shopping malls experienced critically low foot traffic and their revenues dropped accordingly.
As we were bound to our homes, people realized there’s more to happiness than buying and hoarding material goods. We wanted to feel good. Instead of wasting our time at home, we wanted to experience something new and exciting.
Adapt and overcome
Many of those who adapted to the situation and tried their best to add value to their businesses have been able to overcome the issues that the massive shift to online shopping has caused them.
And there has been a common denominator that helped many struggling shopping malls stay afloat and even come out of the pandemic as brand new booming businesses.
Shopping malls with huge surfaces at their disposal started filling the space with entertaining content. A lot of them transformed from just being a shopping mall to being a shopping mall that offers additional services as the family entertainment centers.
Trampolines, bowling lanes, arcade games, and food & beverage spots started attracting families. The kids could play and spend time within a safe environment, while their parents could shop and check up on them anytime they passed by … or join them for a fun and entertaining experience.
How did Gravity Wandsworth turn its fortune around?
Right now, Gravity is one of the biggest European entertainment centers with multiple locations, the biggest one being in Wandsworth … but it wasn’t always like that.
They had one of the first trampoline parks in the UK and they’ve seen some major success with it … until other similar parks started popping up in their area. Trampolines are great, but with a low barrier to entry, it was easy for many investors to copy the concept. And with more and more trampoline parks saturating the market, Gravity’s slower sales were in sight.
They’ve been smart enough to try and find ways to differentiate from others. They wanted to offer something new that would help them attract new customers and break out of (just) the trampoline park segment with a narrow target audience (children 7-14 years).
Filling their spaces more and more with entertainment services, they’ve started seeing a rise in popularity again. Besides trampolines, people came for bowling, arcades, food, and beverage … but the main differentiating factor was still missing. Until they’ve stumbled upon a perfect plan to implement a new anchor attraction. You’ve guessed it – a go-kart track.
What is an anchor attraction and why a go-kart track is the best choice for it?
An anchor attraction is an attraction that attracts the majority of your visitors. Even if they spend no more than 15 minutes on it, the anchor attraction is the main reason people get off their couches and come all the way to your venue. And once they’re there, they have all these other attractions seconds away and they’ll be spending entire afternoons at your place, even if they didn’t plan to at the beginning.
Why pick karting as your anchor attraction?
First and foremost – exclusivity. Most probably, there aren’t many other go-kart tracks in your area. Unlike arcades or trampolines, go-kart arenas present a much higher barrier to entry. So if you differentiate yourself with a captivating go-kart track, it’s very unlikely someone else will try to copy you.
Secondly, there is an inherent attraction that’s linked to driving and racing inside every one of your visitors. We link fast cars and adrenaline-pumped driving to various pop stars and other authority figures that we may look up to.
You can offer your customers a chance to ride or race in a safe environment that allows for a bigger adrenaline rush than they can experience driving on a road. Doing so, you’re basically letting them feel like a Formula 1 racer or a famous celebrity … and people are ready to pay for this over and over again.
And to top it all off – go-kart arenas tend to guarantee a long-term business trajectory. It’s an activity that is easy to understand but hard to master, so your customers will return, trying to beat their personal bests time and time again. In addition to that, an attractive track guarantees protection of the area you’re in. Due to the high barrier to entry, nobody will try to copy you if you’ve already established yourself as a go-to venue for karting and all the other entertainment attractions.
To sum up – you lure customers in with the go-kart track as your anchor attraction and keep them there for hours with everything else you offer even after they’re done racing.
A go-kart track in the midst of a busy shopping street in London … Why not?
For the longest time, the idea of putting a big go-kart track in the center of a city was a no-go. All the fumes and dirt that come with it just don’t have any place in such an environment.
Up until 15 years ago, karting was an activity reserved mostly for real racing enthusiasts. The arenas were mostly huge empty spaces outside of the city, such as hangars or warehouses. It was loud, dirty, smelly, and not child or women-friendly at all.
The first massive change that made karting more suitable for cleaner environments was electric go-karts. They are cleaner, quieter and most importantly, there’s hardly any smell compared to the nasty fumes coming out of the petrol-powered ones.
Besides that, the industry started seeing a big shift with 360Karting’s newest concepts. Multi-level tracks specially tailored for various target groups and combined with an attractive track design and lighting solutions were something everyone wanted to try. Kids, moms, dads, college students, you name it.
But how do you fit an entire go-kart track in a packed shopping street in the city center?
Venues like Gravity aren’t the easiest places to fit a go-kart track in. Unique layouts, structural pillars, and the proximity of stores and other public places make it really challenging.
But this is where our multi-level solution comes to shine. You need a much smaller surface to build an engaging go-kart track with 360Karting’s multi-level designs as compared to the old-school single-level tracks.
A track design that needs much less floor space makes it possible to include other attractions as well. So you’ll often be able to see arcades, bowling lanes, trampolines, food and beverage spots, and shops strategically placed around our go-kart tracks. This is a great way to combine different revenue streams and attracts visitors to try multiple attractions they’ll want to pay for. And what’s best – it keeps them coming back as there’s never a dull moment in such an entertainment hub!
How did it pay off for Gravity?
They’ve totally upgraded their services as we knew them before. As a family entertainment center, they’ve entered a busy shopping street with lots of foot traffic and they’ve integrated well into the environment.
They offer a lot of activities for the whole family to enjoy and they tie it all together with their go-kart track as the anchor attraction. And since doing so, they’ve been seeing a much bigger footfall than ever before.
Shoppers visiting the nearby stores can now unwind at Gravity and vice-versa – if you remember you need anything from the store while having fun at Gravity, everything is just around the corner.
They’ve implemented a go-kart track that attracts the women and the kids just as well as the men. No more smelly arenas full of petrol fumes and difficult tracks only pros can enjoy, but rather clean, attractive tracks that are fun to drive, even if you’re not a skilled racer.
By doing so they’ve expanded their target audience from children 7-14 years old to practically anyone that likes to enjoy their time off doing something fun with their friends or family.
Now, they’re a leading go-to venue for any entertainment purposes. They’re located at a premium location in the middle of a busy shopping street in London and they’ve expanded their offer to cater to a wider target audience.
Their new anchor attraction – an inviting go-kart arena – attracts a wide group of customers and other attractions such as trampolines, bowling lanes, arcades, and food & beverage spots keep them on the venue for hours.
What couldn’t be possible just a few years ago is now doable thanks to multi-level solutions that utilize the volume of a venue rather than its surface, electric go-karts that are quieter and don’t emit any fumes, and various types of tracks specially tailored to enhance the driving experience of your target customer. Thanks to those, your go-kart track won’t attract only the racing enthusiasts (who will still enjoy them) but a wider audience that includes young adults, women, and children.