Splitsville Delivers a 21st Century Entertainment Experience Using ViewSonic® Large Format Displays and Projectors
Splitsville Entertainment is an expanding Canadian chain of bowling and entertainment centers that provide an innovative, immersive experience for patrons. The Splitsville concept was created in 2006 with a mission to transform bowling into an engaging entertainment-focused experience that would attract the interest of a younger, tech-savvy customer base. The strategy was to acquire, update, and manage bowling venues that had fallen out of favor with the public. Since its inception, Splitsville has opened four locations in Ontario and British Columbia, making it the largest chain of bowling and entertainment centers in Canada. A cornerstone of the revamped entertainment concept has been Splitsville’s significant investment in high-end display and HD projection technologies from ViewSonic.
“ViewSonic digital signage, projection systems, and large format displays are now front and center in every area of every Splitsville facility, serving up music, sports, event reminders and acknowledgements, celebratory notices, advertising, and business presentations.”
— Pat Haggerty, President Splitsville Entertainment Group
The bowling landscape in Canada has undergone significant changes over the years. During that time, it’s lost its appeal for many sectors of the population.
Many people have images of bowling alleys as throwbacks to a decades-old past, says Pat Haggerty, president, Splitsville Entertainment Center. “The typical impression was a place characterized by smelly shoes, unpleasant noise, and ugly shirts.”
Revenues have taken a hit. From the 1960s to the 1980s, bowling revenues came from four areas: corporate teams, birthday parties, open playing, and leagues. During that period, up to 85% of bowling lane revenue was generated from bowling leagues. With the societal shift to home entertainment, the number of registered bowling leagues has dropped dramatically.
“Once entertainment technology came on the scene, leagues shrunk to one-tenth of their original size and technology started to come into play,” Haggerty says.
Shifting demographics have also played their part. As millennials surpass baby boomers in numbers, interest in bowling as a source of entertainment has declined. For Splitsville, that was a wakeup call, Haggerty says. “Millennials carry the money and are much more tech-savvy. We knew that with that shift, bowling had to do something completely different to survive.”
To attract an entirely new generation, Haggerty says they needed to create an attention-grabbing digital and immersive experience. “The question we needed to answer was: How can we communicate to this large group of consumers and turn bowling into an entertainment experience?”
In 2006, Splitsville embarked on a mission to shatter stereotypes and attract a new generation of bowlers to the scene. This major renovation project included leveraging the latest and greatest display technology to create a multi-faceted entertainment experience. The goal was to create an audio-visual extravaganza throughout each facility, from the bowling lanes to the lounges and party rooms.
To accomplish this, Splitsville invested more than $1 million into each installation project. A key factor in the decision to purchase commercial grade displays was the desire to ensure top picture quality and a longer life.
The ultimate solution included ViewSonic product in the following areas:
- Bowling lanes - Each bowling center features from 16 to 34 bowling lanes. These lanes are divided into zones of six, each of which was outfitted with 10 X 12 foot ViewSonic CDE series (commercial grade) drop-down displays that can be programmed to play different content and music. When not in use, the displays can be raised behind a masking unit via a remote control switch at the front desk.
- Each site was also equipped with a suspended ViewSonic Full HD LED projector system for the walls behind the lane displays. These can be used to create a wallpaper effect showcasing Splitsville branding, or configured to present multiple image panes and messaging tailored for the audienceand/or time of day.
- Party Rooms - LED projector systems were installed in each party room, all of which are connected to the main system and can access the satellite network via HDMI cable or cellular port.
- Bars - The Splitsville bars were adorned with a video wall comprised of multiple 32” to 48” ViewSonic CDE series commercial-grade displays (11 to 14 units depending on the size of the location). Up to three satellite dishes provide customized visual and audio content to the various displays. Screens are connected to the satellite dish or the Bowling Music Network, which runs commercials every 15 minutes.
Additional display synchronization technology was deployed at the Hamilton location to enable increased selection of splitting options based on 16 to 20 inputs. These can be loaded at the head office, which, Haggerty explained enables them to dictate what they want to feed into those lanes at any time.
Since its technological evolution, Splitsville has delivered on its promise to bring a state-of-the-art bowling entertainment experience to a new generation of customers.
"ViewSonic digital signage, projection systems, and large format displays are now front and center in every area of every Splitsville facility, serving up music, sports, event reminders and acknowledgements, celebratory notices, advertising, and business presentations," said Haggerty.
“The instant gratification of digital has been a big tool for getting people out,” said Haggerty. “Also, adding more visual richness to our ads has moved people to buy more food, more quickly.”
The first location to undergo an overhaul quadrupled its earnings within two-and-a-half years, said Haggerty. “It took about eight months for it to get its sea legs, but after that, everything came together.”
The sites have become a popular draw for activities outside of bowling, from party bookings to business meetings. “People can even do PowerPoint presentations over the lanes if they like. With one push of the button they can have all screens showing the same input,” said Haggerty.
Plans are in the works to add interactive touchscreen capabilities to displays at the individual bowling lanes to enable sign up, scorekeeping, points collection, and messaging.
Now armed with a proven concept with definitive results, Haggerty has his eyes on expansion into the U.S.