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How to navigate the niche segment of eatertainment

June 25, 2022 | Industry News | by Grant Gadoci

Gone are the days when consumers had to choose when and where to eat in isolation of where they wanted to play. Having a food and beverage component of a business is table stakes in today’s market. Some may say “restaurant adjacent”, but the term “eatertainment” has taken off and created a new category in foodservice that will only continue to grow.

Breaking Down the Eatertainment Segment

The size of the pool for this restaurant industry segment is much smaller than many people realize – for now. Overall there are approximately 60 multi-unit accounts to target, yet the brand makeup, priorities, and challenges remain roughly the same across the brands. 

  • Who is their target audience?
  • What is their niche?
  • Where do customers gain the most value, from the entertainment or the food? For reference, Punch Bowl Social gets 89% of its revenue from their food and beverage offerings. 
Eatertainment sub-categories
  • Amusement arcades with a food or bar component
  • Movie theaters that offer full-service dining (think Alamo Drafthouse)
  • Creative spaces (i.e. painting) with food and/or beverage offering
  • Activity-based venues with food and/or bar:
    • Ax-throwing
    • Bowling
    • Darts
    • Foosball
    • Golf (Topgolf is still crushing it)
    • Laser tag
    • Ping pong
    • Rock climbing
    • Shuffleboard
  • Retail – where merchandise is a huge portion of income (think: Tommy Bahama, Cooper’s Hawk Winery)

What do they all have in common? They focus on the “experience” over just good food. Just think – for the past couple of years it was best practice for a restaurant operator to keep as much distance as possible between his or her team and the guest. Now, there has never been a better time to be the brand that brings everything and everyone together. 

Using Technology to Manage Competing Priorities

The businesses that fall within this category have their own set of challenges. Understanding the performance of each revenue center, capturing customer feedback, and breaking down where to make investments (menu development or new seats in a theater?) are all activities that add to an already complex operation. So what tools can help them provide a one-stop-shop for an unmatched customer experience?

Currently, some of the biggest players in this space are Dave & Buster’s and Main Event. The two customer-centric brands recently merged, with new leadership in place and an invigorating focus on delivering a memorable experience for every occasion. 

Main Event has been a trusted venue for families with young children, while Dave & Buster’s has appealed to a young adult audience. Main Event COO, Margo Manning, shared her excitement for “being more prescriptive and more surgical in how we market to the adults and leveraging the Main Event ability for us to capitalize on family”. This gives vendors that fall within the same tech category an opportunity to differentiate their value and stand out from the competition.

Now how does this apply in real-life? The CEO of the combined companies, Chris Morris, used this transaction as an opportunity to rethink its service model and maximize their current geographical footprint. 

Setting Up Your Sales Strategy

Because this is a niche segment, business operations are truly nuanced. Expanding into the eatertainment market requires a laser focus on your sales approach. That being said, dedicating only one commercial rep to manage the eatertainment portion of the industry will garner better results for sales as well as drive efficiencies across the team.

There is a SaaS industry metric to gauge how much is too much when it comes to distributing accounts and territories. If an SDR is working 80 accounts, on average they should be converting 8-16 of those conversations into meetings. More details on the calculations behind this can be found here

However, if carving out “tangent” or “adjacent” markets is a part of your commercial strategy, don’t try to assign multiple reps to it, as there won’t be enough to keep them busy. When you go into territory planning and solidifying your sales plays, make sure you know the true whitespace available and the current tech stack of your target audience to gauge what the real selling potential is. 

Restaurantology is an emerging stealth startup specializing in restaurant data capture like never before. Each month, Restaurantology visits over 15,000 multi-unit restaurant websites to verify a variety of public data points that we can extract, analyze, and turn into valuable insights. Our proprietary technology speeds up information gathering so reps and companies can spend more time generating revenue and less time on low-impact, administrative tasks.