A question we get asked frequently is “Why do you have a maximum of 5 guests per lane?” at your bowling center. This comes up often and for a variety of reasons. First, we need to define who a “guest” is. A guest is any BODY coming through our doors. Age, ability, and intentions do not matter. And here’s why.
Prior to the pandemic, I think, every business’s goal was to get as many people through their doors as possible. More people = more revenue. During 2020 we, as business owners, were forced to take a hard look at previous procedures and priorities and make changes for the survival of our business and the comfort of our guests. In the process, a few conveniences were sacrificed. The one that has had the biggest effect is limiting the number of guests allowed per lane.
There are some bowling centers that have a lot of extra room and some that do not. We are one of the “do nots”. Originally, the space that Warrior Lanes currently occupies, was designed to be a small movie theater. Developers changed those plans late in the game when a proposal for a bowling center was approved. Construction space was maximized as best as it could be to allow for 16 bowling lanes, 2 party rooms, a small arcade and the front desk area. Had the building design been originally for bowling, our lanes, approaches & settee area (also known as the bowler’s seating area) would not be a raised area. The raised settee area is bordered by house ball cabinets, stairs, rails, and a wheelchair ramp- all which take up valuable customer space. Our settee area has 1 table located behind each respective lane. Even with the tables staggered, most of our tables have room for only 5 chairs- a seat for each guest. With 5 chairs around the table, there is just enough room for bowlers to get to their lane to bowl, without impeding the guests at the adjacent lane and table. The lower floor area (also called a concourse) is where bowlers walk to their lanes and find bowling balls.
We want every guest, bowling or not, to be comfortable and safe during their visit. With more than 5 people at a single lane, this cannot happen AT WARRIOR LANES. Every bowling center is designed differently and had we designed this bowling center ourselves: 1) we wouldn’t be in this expensive, leased, limiting space and 2) there would be SO MUCH more room for so many more people and things.
Recently, we have been told we are discriminating against families with small children and large families because of our policy. This couldn’t be further from the truth! In this case, the family had 5 bowlers plus a non-bowling adult with an infant (and a big stroller), making 7 total guests so they needed 2 lanes. There was no physical or practical way this family could enjoy themselves, comfortably, within the space of 1 lane. We do not charge by the guest, or by the lane for walk-in bowling, so there wasn’t an extra charge for the extra space, and we were able to put them on 2 lanes together. They did bowl but left upset because they were on 2 lanes, so they bowled “too fast” and didn’t enjoy a longer evening out. Another family of 11 came to bowl but grandma and grandpa were just going to “watch” the other 9 bowl. There is no room for grandma and grandpa without having the 3rd lane.
Another scenario is customers who make online reservations. These reservations are booked and paid for by the lane, so they do have to pay for space for additional guests. We are clear about our policy throughout the booking process, so it isn’t a surprise. Online reservations are a perk during our busy times allowing customers to “line jump” when we have a wait list. Yes, you do need to purchase that additional, non-refundable, lane to allow room for everyone in your party. Again, this allows everyone their own space to be comfortable and enjoy their time with us and is not meant to be a “money grab”.
Those who gamble with their reservation and only purchase space for 5 but bring in 6 or 7 people will end up disappointed, as they will be required to purchase an additional lane on the off chance there might be one available- but there usually isn’t, or tell 2 of their guests they will have to hang out somewhere away from the rest of their group. Neither case is a fun conversation to have.
Gone are the days of having 100+ people in the settee area and cramming a lot of people into a really small space. While limiting guests per lane does reduce the revenue potential of a lane, we do believe we are doing our part to keep everyone as comfortable and safe as possible during their time at Warrior Lanes. PLEASE, plan ahead accordingly! We appreciate your kindness and understanding.