FECs and ROI: making your dollar go further, part 2

Chad Kunimoto explores more FEC & indoor entertainment trends, like retailtainment, edutainment & experiential dining

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In Part 1 of this series looking at tech trends in indoor entertainment, we saw how projection technology revitalizes simulation, bowling, and indoor climbing. We discussed how consumers quickly lose interest in FECs unless refreshed regularly—a factor compounded by dependence on a local pool of customers—and how investing in media-based attraction can make novelty last longer without blowing your budget.

But FECs are not the only businesses adjusting to a changing marketplace with high consumer expectations. Shops, restaurants, bars, and entertainment spaces also want to connect with people by making them feel, remember, and value every visit.

Retail entertainment

Post-pandemic, consumers continue to embrace online shopping. Still, they are frustrated by an inability to judge product quality and are eagerly returning to brick-and-mortar stores. But it’s not only a desire to touch and feel products bringing customers back. Today, consumers expect to be entertained. One in three consumers says they go shopping to escape from everyday life, according to a 2022 report, compared to one in five surveyed before the onset of the pandemic.

In addition, consumers are more motivated to visit a store to gather information than those surveyed in 2019. However, the desire for entertainment still ranks higher than other practical considerations, such as accessibility. Shoppers are also keen to explore AR: nearly half of Americans responding to one poll said they’re interested in augmented reality experiences.

Compelling visuals catalyze people into the store and meet their expectations for an immersive, shareable, sociable experience. Images can tell stories, start conversations, encourage interaction, deliver information, and create the right ambience for spending.

Nothing does this for entertainment as flexibly as projection (augmented with lighting, sound, and scent: the multisensory marketing approach is incredibly effective).

You don’t need a huge budget to evoke emotions using dynamic backdrops. Portable UST projectors can deliver widescreen images from a throw distance of less than half an inch. This allows you to arrange merch in front of the screen in narrow window cases without casting a shadow over the image.

Projection brings entertainment to alfresco dining experiences

Many malls feature outdoor dining spaces, play areas, and grand entranceways that are prime areas for entertainment experiences. Outdoor projection mapping can turn these areas into local entertainment landmarks with a fairground-like atmosphere.

This mall in Perth, Australia, uses projection mapping to tempt tourists away from the CBD to its inner suburban location. It is now a popular place for groups to meet up and dine before or after a movie or shopping trip.

Karrinyup Shopping Centre in Perth, Australia, turned its fortunes around by turning its façade into a landmark.

Working with a tech partner on the spatial design before selecting a hardware solution will yield more impressive results and can also resolve unforeseen installation issues, such as those we solved at Comcast’s Xfinity flagship store in Washington, D.C

Edutainment and family play

The US$1.5 billion edutainment sector is among the fastest growing as parents embrace entertainment that helps kids develop. A current craze in China is combining basketball and English lessons. It’s that kind of outside-the-box thinking that can help a business stand out.

Visuals are the prime sensory movers in hybrid experiences that build on children’s instinct for tactile play, with projections well-suited to rough-and-tumble environments. Images can be skinned safely over 3D shapes, floors, and ceilings, rather than having to design the space around a rigid glass display.

Tyama interactive exhibition leverages Melbourne Museum’s investment in projection hardware. This allows content to be updated without significant changes to the layout

Since interactive visuals are viewed at close range, image resolution is a significant consideration. Compact 4K projectors with UST lenses are becoming more popular. To save cost, most use WUXGA chips and pixel-shifting to create a 4K image. Be sure to demo your projectors for these types of entertainment projects and look for pixel grinding. The best brands will deliver smooth, grid-less images indistinguishable from costlier Native 4K counterparts.

Snowy Hydro’s visitor center outside Sydney, Australia, is a fantastic example of interactive edutainment. Client, tech partner, and studio teamed up with the Queensland University of Technology to allow guests to touch on and explore any point on a panoramic landscape in incredible detail.

Projection tech heightens entertainment for experiential dining

Few industries have a higher business attrition rate than food service. Restaurants, bars, and nightclubs always look for ways to capture and retain clientele. When a brilliant idea falls from the sky, everyone takes notice. Tabletop projection and mini-mapping are great examples.

Le Petit Chef is a concept from Dutch company Skullmapping. This proves that it’s not the scale that gets people talking but the idea. In this case, a whimsical animated chef appears on diners’ plates and prepares their food in front of them.

When a video showing the idea went viral, Skullmapping decided to add more courses to the main meal. The studio has since gone from strength to strength, recently expanding the motion-capture animation concept to gallery exhibitions.

The idea of using projection for entertainment in an F&B environment isn’t a new one. This nightclub bar in Kyoto was an early adopter of DLP projection. Here, it has been used to establish a brand personality in a highly competitive market.

It’s remarkable how evolved projectors can enhance the atmosphere and open avenues for new business in small-scale events such as birthdays and corporate functions. Whether it’s an enchanting table-mapping experience, a wall projection that opens a window on the world, or dynamic signage for places with a story to tell, projection remains the most efficient way to grab attention.

The possibilities for adding novelty to F&B experiences with projection are endless

Whatever the type or scale of your FEC or indoor attraction, the need for flexible, immersive displays remains the key to delivering value. And with spatial design assistance from the right tech partner, you can take your concept to the next level. To learn how Panasonic Connect can maximize your capital investment now and in the future, please click here or contact me via email.

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