Is it possibly the case that online bingo, the recession, smoking ban, slot machines and higher taxation are not as much to blame for the more traditional bingo hall demise as first thought? It could be that there is another more major factor that is also helping in the rapid decline of the bingo industry and all the other factors including online bingo are purely just symptoms of an industry that has lost touch with its customers and ultimately this is the causal effect of the terminal situation that we are currently faced with.
Never mind swine flu, bingo hall closures have reached pandemic status
We recently reported on an article published on the Times website which featured an in depth article by Steve McKenna the ex-MD of Gala Bingo, and although the article certainly gave hope for a positive future for bingo it was more the comments by players that was very telling. The consensus of opinion seems to be that big bingo halls are changing too much, i.e. the simplicity of the bingo game. It seems that the players are saying get rid of the electronic machines as the more traditional players don’t want them, it is bingo and the social side of the bingo game that is main attraction.
So Doctor, what do we feel the prognosis is for the very poorly bingo industry? The online bingo industry is thriving and part of the success is that the online bingo industry is relatively young and understands fully the younger and more internet savvy online bingo player. Where the online bingo industry can do no wrong and is enjoying a meteoric growth, the reverse is the case with high street bingo halls. The only way to allow the possibility of the land based bingo hall phoenix to rise from the ashes is to get a different corporate perspective, if you like more of a ‘if it aint broke don’t fix it’ attitude. The big guys in the bingo industry maybe should spend some time at grass roots and listen to the players and ask them do they really want high tech in their traditional bingo hall and then be prepared for the resounding ‘no’ when it is delivered. Sitting in ivory towers completely unaware of what your customer base really wants, fingers firmly in ears saying ‘la-la-la I’m not listening’ means it is highly unlikely that you can ever hope to deliver what your customer really wants.
Technology is a very powerful weapon but don’t shoot yourself in the foot with it!
One thing for sure is that the bingo industry needs to start to listen to the players to have even a fighting chance of survival. If the major bingo brands all decided to get back to basics – bingo - then possibly they might well be able to attract some of the old bingo players back into the bingo halls. The new Mecca Bingo hall in Beeston is a good example of how this might work as their attempt to attract younger bingo players has not been at the cost of alienating the older more traditional bingo member. Mecca Bingo have divided the new bingo hall to cater for both, so those that like a more lively bingo experience are in one area of the Mecca bingo hall and there is another much quieter section for those that prefer the more traditional side of the bingo game.