At a center in Dubai, an enchanting world awaits.
Have you heard of Ibn Battuta? I sure hadn’t, until I started to research the FEC at the Ibn Battuta Mall in Dubai. Ibn Battuta was a 14th-century Moroccan Muslim traveler and adventurer (1304-1369) who explored the Dar al-Salam, or the Lands of Islam. At that time, Islam had spread to some of the farthest corners of the world, from Africa to India to China and beyond. Ibn Battuta, the son of a wealthy legal scholar, was a smart and clever man who traveled the world, working as an itinerant judge to subsidize his exploration. Ibn Battuta wrote one of the earliest and most influential travel logs. Thus, the Ibn Battuta Mall in Dubai pays homage to this great Muslim explorer and recorder of the world.
The mall commemorates the six regions that Ibn Battuta visited during his life through architectural renderings: Egypt, Persia, India, China, Tunisia, and Andalusia. The courts are designed to reflect the architecture and cultural achievements unique to each region. The mall is home to over 275 high-end, luxury brand shops, restaurants, and entertainment venues.
One of the main attractions in the court of India is the Dubai Switch Bowling Center, which houses 12 lanes, a six-table billiards room, three private karaoke rooms, and a 150-seat restaurant called Alpy’s serving a wide variety of menu items from six different nations.
In keeping with the mall's theme, the bowling center, which opened its doors in August of 2010, is decidedly upscale in design, décor, fixtures, fittings, and furnishings. It’s designed to impress, and has the “WOW!” factor. Shareef Al Halawani, head of the Board of Directors and owner of the mall, is marketing-driven and thrives on providing dynamite customer service, which boosts guest return visits. While most of the promotions that Shareef has in place will be familiar to proprietors of multi-attraction entertainment centers, the
standout is Shareef’s approach to corporate parties.
Corporate Party Business is Hot
Shareef’s success in marketing and hosting corporate team-building events is impressive. The center typically hosts ten corporate events a month with an average of 72 attendees. That’s 720 a month or 8,640 attendees a year.
Shareef utilizes most forms of marketing for his businesses: a website, social media, bulk emails, telemarketing, outside sales calls, and in-house promotions.
Shareef explains the most effective marketing tools for their corporate sales combine a mix of outside sales calls, telemarketing, and direct mail advertising. The direct mailing includes a custom cover letter to the corporations and a telephone call from an in-house sales professional a few days later. What Shareef clearly understands is the importance of doing your homework before initiating contact by learning about the target corporation's business and identifying the proper connection, ideally the decision maker so you are not relying on a company employee to pitch the sale to their boss on your behalf.
Guests are offered two corporate packages which can be modified and customized to meet any specific needs or requests. A Gold Package includes two hours of bowling for up to six people on each lane and a wide selection of dishes from their menu. They can also add equipment such as wide screens, wireless microphones, and a sound system for audiovisual presentations for an additional fee. The second package, Silver, is similar, with a minor adjustment to the menu offerings.
The Gold Package costs $44 per person on weekdays and $51 on weekends. The Silver Package is $32 on weekdays and $40 on weekends. All packages can be upgraded to include billiards and karaoke.
Another popular attraction is the center's three private and soundproofed karaoke rooms outfitted with the latest equipment. Located on the mezzanine floor, the rooms are smartly furnished and are perfect for small groups of five or six people. Given that the rooms and occupancy are so tiny, karaoke represents 5% of the overall business based on the charge per person.
Food and beverage service on the lanes, at the billiard tables, and in the karaoke rooms keeps the added attractions financially viable since food and beverage are not included in the base price.
On a percentage basis, bowling represents 50% of the business. Food and beverage sales are 35%, billiards is 10%, and karaoke 5%. Compared to many FECs in other international markets, the percentage of food and beverage sales is on the low side; due to its being alcohol-free status.
Shareef holds a licensing agreement for the use of the Switch name. Alain Winterhalter, the chairman of Switch, says, "Switch helped in the original development of this state-of-the-art center and has maintained a close working relationship with the owner, Shareef Al Halawani.”
Given the longevity of Shareef and his team in the United Arab Emirates, there's no doubt they have a winning formula and will continue to offer their guests the dynamite service experience they are famous for in the unique and modern bn Battuta Mall.