Hang Out: Carv­ing Out Space for Fam­i­lies to Bond

Shopping Center News - - CONTENTS - – By Shop­ping Cen­tre Bureau

With rapid ur­ban­i­sa­tion and a dearth of play ar­eas for chil­dren, it has be­come im­per­a­tive to pro­vide other forms of ed­uca­tive en­ter­tain­ment for chil­dren, en­ter­tain­ment which ex­er­cises not just their mus­cles but also their brain cells and Hang Out pro­vides just this…

Gone are the days when movie com­plexes used to be the only form of en­ter­tain­ment in malls. Larger Fam­ily En­ter­tain­ment Cen­tres (FECs) are fast gain­ing ac­cep­tance across the coun­try, be­com­ing the new buzz­word in the en­ter­tain­ment and leisure seg­ments, with malls bet­ting big on these for­mats. With rapid ur­ban­i­sa­tion and a dearth of play ar­eas for chil­dren, it has be­come im­per­a­tive to pro­vide other forms of ed­uca­tive en­ter­tain­ment for chil­dren, en­ter­tain­ment which ex­er­cises not just their mus­cles but also their brain cells.

Un­der­stand­ing the gap and step­ping into it was one such FEC, Hang Out. Hang Out, which has been op­er­at­ing for eight years in Se­lect Ci­tyWalk Mall, Delhi, is a pi­o­neer in fam­ily en­ter­tain­ment. It’s a one-stop-shop for all things fun, food, and en­ter­tain­ment. The space is neatly di­vided into a multi-level gam­ing ar­cade, a bowl­ing al­ley, 4D rides, a spe­cial fun zone for kids, and even a din­ing area.

Crowd-Puller

Hang Out prides it­self on be­ing a is a com­pre­hen­sive cen­ter for fam­ily fun. The aim of the cen­tre is to pro­mote fam­ily in­ter­ac­tion, qual­ity fam­ily time and un­der­stand­ing pref­er­ences of chil­dren en­ter­tain­ment as per their ages. Their slo­gan – we cater to ages 2 to U2 – de­fines them pre­cisely. They have some­thing for ev­ery­one – from tod­dlers to tweens, par­ents to grand­par­ents.

“Our USP is per­son­al­ized ser­vices, un­der­stand­ing and meet­ing the parental needs and psy­chol­ogy of par­ents, taking care of their chil­dren like our own, giv­ing them the as­sur­ance and com­fort to leave their chil­dren at Hang Out for their shop­ping con­ve­nience and/or spend­ing qual­ity time with them,” ex­plains Shalini Vij, Di­rec­tor, Hang Out.

Its of­fer­ings of edu­tain­ment tod­dler ar­eas, ar­cade games, 4D Vir­tual Roller coast­ers, 3-level play­grounds and hourly mu­si­cal per­for­mances make it a kid mag­net, pulling them back for more fun. The brand is con­stantly up­grad­ing its games and rides with the new­est tech­nolo­gies avail­able, to keep its of­fer­ings fresh. Hang Out also works on growing with kids and their needs.

“The ini­tial Hang Out kids is a jun­gle themed cafe, we tried to stay as close to na­ture as we could, un­der­stand­ing the dearth of well-main­tained parks and weather re­straints in India. We con­verted all pil­lars into trees and

used a lot of fo­liage, leaves to give a nat­u­ral shade, with grass turf, grass-coloured car­pets, an­i­mal mu­rals, an­i­mal shaped fur­ni­ture at our Zoo Café, and leop­ard print hang­ing lights were just some of the el­e­ments we added,” says Vij.

The Sports Diner on the other hand was made on a Dave-andBuster model, cater­ing to adults, teens and tweens with more fo­cus on equipment in­clud­ing the lat­est tech­nol­ogy VR rides, roller coast­ers, bowl­ing, pool tables, elec­tronic darts and a 6-screen sports bar. The din­ing-style is booth seat­ing, with high tables and bar stools. The in­te­ri­ors of Sports Diner is done with a fo­cus on the games by us­ing a lot of lights, LED, UV lights and games like beer pong, Pac­man, Box­ing, King of Ham­mer, Mo­nop­oly and Deal or No Deal are pop­u­lar.

How­ever, set­ting up Hang Out – which is now an ac­tive mem­ber of the In­dian As­so­ci­a­tion of Amuse­ment Parks and In­dus­tries (IAAPI) and has even won awards for Ex­cel­lence for Fam­ily En­ter­tain­ment Cen­tre at the IAAPI awards in both 2013 and 2014 – was no easy feat. There were chal­lenges ga­lore as Vij re­calls.

Chal­lenges in Set­ting up FEC Zones

“The ini­tial hur­dle was ba­si­cally of con­vinc­ing mall builders, de­vel­op­ers and own­ers of the FEC model. Once they were con­vinced, then we had to make do with third and fourth lev­els, and also spend time ne­go­ti­at­ing rental agree­ments,” she says.

“Top level floors meant bring­ing up heavy equipment, ma­chin­ery, rides, games, which of­ten needed a crane to be hoisted up – re­sult­ing in dam­ag­ing. Aside from this, we also some­times had to al­ter ride and equipment se­lec­tions be­cause of lim­ited space and ceil­ing height,” she adds.

How­ever, she says that de­spite all these chal­lenges, chil­dren and par­ents found their way to Hang Out which was very mo­ti­vat­ing and heart­en­ing for the brand.

“FECs need a well-de ned area in the mall with clear ac­ces­si­bil­ity to bring in their equipment, with easy ac­ces­si­bil­ity to par­ents and chil­dren to get to and high ceil­ings giv­ing the FEC op­er­a­tor the free hand to se­lect and bring in the new­est there is in terms of tech­nol­ogy in the en­ter­tain­ment in­dus­try,” she ex­plains.

Money Mat­ters

FECs are foot­fall and crowd pullers but the av­er­age spend on en­ter­tain­ment is lim­ited and malls need to carve out ar­eas keep­ing in mind the rev­enues per sq. ft. gen­er­a­tion from this in­dus­try.

“The to­tal in­vest­ment in our project av­er­ages from ` 600010,000 per sq. ft. depend­ing on the op­er­a­tor and the kind of equipment they put in. Again, tod­dler ar­eas/play­ground re­quire dif­fer­ent type in­vest­ments as op­pose to a full-fledged high­tech game rooms with state-ofthe-art rides and VR,” she adds, ex­plain­ing that the re­turn on in­vest­ment varies from FEC to FEC and can be recorded based

on foot­falls and price points.

“In­vest­ment for our projects start at low as ` 4 crore. Our rental agree­ment with malls vary. Some­times we are on a pure rev­enue shar­ing ba­sis like in some malls in Tier II & III cities and at other times, mainly in Tier I cities, we can flip be­tween rev­enue shar­ing and MG, depend­ing on whichever op­tion works bet­ter for us,” she says.

Vij says Hang Out’s rev­enue share with Se­lect Ci­tyWalk is be­tween 14-20 per­cent cur­rently.

“Eight years ago, Se­lect Ci­tyWalk en­trusted us with our FEC project plan and gave Hang Out its rst break through at that time there were just a few hand­ful in the en­ter­tain­ment in­dus­try and even fewer that were ready to pay the high mall rentals, MGs and CAM. To­day the sce­nario has changed as the builders and mall de­vel­op­ers have now be­gun to un­der­stand the im­por­tance of FECs and have started carv­ing out spe­cial spaces for the same. And although things are chang­ing, but more changes need to take place. Malls need to un­der­stand that we are dif­fer­en­tia­tors for them and that they can­not have rentals and MGs for us in the same bracket as their lux­ury or an­chor brands,” ex­plains Vij.

On space in malls, she says, “Depend­ing on the project, Hang Out re­quires any­where be­tween 5,000-15,000 sq. ft. of area This usu­ally works for us since a mall can eas­ily carve up to 25,000 sq. ft. for FEC op­er­a­tions depend­ing on the size of the mall, foot­falls, area de­mo­graphic and other fac­tors.”

Ex­pan­sion Plans

“We have just launched a new brand, an eatery called The Sports Diner at Se­lect Ci­tyWalk, New Delhi. We are also associated with Pa­cific Mall at Subash Na­gar and Bharti Realty at their Pavil­ion Mall in Lud­hi­ana,” says Vij.

Lud­hi­ana was the test model for Hang Out and its par­ent com­pany, MF En­ter­tain­ment and Amuse­ment (MFEA). Vij ran the test model be­cause she un­der­stood that in prepa­ra­tion of their fran­chise model, it was im­por­tant to learn to walk be­fore run­ning.

“We have also learnt that ‘one size ts all’ won’t work in our di­versely cul­tured coun­try. The model will need tweak­ing ac­cord­ing to vicin­ity. We see our­selves ex­pand­ing our FECs to Tier I, II and III cities. We want to give an en­ter­tain­ment op­tion to ev­ery city, pan India,” she con­cludes.

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