People love to take their place at the bowling alley, batting cage, shooting or driving range. That’s a fun way to line up. What isn’t fun is waiting in a queue for your turn to bowl, swing, shoot, or play – or even stuck in a waiting area until your number is called.
Businesses that offer active entertainment activities have long been plagued by customers getting bored or frustrated with waiting and walking out. The customer doesn’t get his turn at bat, and the proprietor loses a sale.
Some businesses discourage walk-outs by providing secondary attractions in the waiting area, such as food or arcade games. This approach can have mixed results depending on the quality of the offering. Bowling alley food is equal parts beloved Americana and digestive cautionary tale. Classic or beloved arcade games will hold more interest than a barely functioning or unenjoyable game – but a busy day might mean that customers are waiting in line to play a game while waiting in line to get into the batting cage or bowling range. That’s even worse!
Some businesses have adopted the beepers favored by chain restaurants, which go off once the holder’s number comes up. This allows for some wandering, but not too much, and it keeps customers tethered to the store. Other locations allow visitors to make reservations ahead of time… but what about the customers who didn’t reserve their station and see perfectly good open spaces where they could be playing being puppy-guarded for someone who hasn’t even arrived? On the other hand, a particularly busy day could mean that someone shows up in time for their reservation only to find no available spots.
The ubiquity of smartphones may soon help recreation providers end the waiting room blues. Using a service like QLess, visitors can get into a virtual line to use facilities such as a putting green, bowling alley, or rifle range. Then they can go about their day with constant updates about what time their turns would be coming up and arrange to show up on time to find an open batting cage or bowling lane ready to go. Restaurants, hospitals, government bureaus and airports have all benefited from virtual line technology, and now the same benefits are available to business offering recreational spaces.