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Getting Into The Swing Of It

More Resorts Are Tapping Into Game Simulators To Increase Guest Satisfaction

By Steve Pike | June 17, 2022

Zombie Dodgeball anyone? Believe it or not, knocking down those lifeless creatures is growing in popularity at hotels and resorts. Properties such as JW Marriott San Antonio Hill Country, Four Seasons Hotel Houston and Park Hyatt Aviara in Carlsbad, CA, each are using big-screen, high-tech game simulators to entertain guests and increase business as well as revenue.

Simulators essentially have been best-known for golf instruction, but companies such as Full Swing have developed games (Zombie Dodgeball, soccer, baseball, among others) to help resorts and hotels increase onsite food and beverage sales.

“We’ve seen huge growth in the hotel and hospitality space as these large operators are looking for new entertainment features in the hopes to keep their guests on property,” said Jason Fierro, COO of Full Swing, which recently signed a partnership with KemperSports to provide golf simulator and launch monitor technology to KemperSports’ clients and properties across the country in order to drive deeper customer engagement.

KemperSports’ clients include such renowned golf resorts as Bandon Dunes in Bandon, OR, Sand Valley Golf Resort in Nekoosa, WI, and Streamsong Resort in Bowling Green, FL.

“The need to provide innovative entertainment experiences to members and guests at our facilities has never been greater,” said KemperSports CEO Steve Skinner. “By partnering with Full Swing to bring state-of-the-art technology to our properties, we are building even stronger bonds with consumers and giving them more reasons to return to our properties time and again all year long”

Full Swing’s partnership with Topgolf Entertainment Group, meanwhile, allows for the Carlsbad-based company to install Topgolf Swing Suites in places such as High Velocity sports bar at JW Marriott San Antonio Hill Country and in the lobby areas of Park Hyatt Aviara and Four Seasons Hotel Houston.

“It’s certainly given guests another active entertainment option beyond just going to a bar or the restaurant,” said Park Hyatt Aviara General Manager Geoffrey Gray.

Guest prices generally are timed by the half hour or hour. A Topgolf Swing Suite at Wyndham Orlando Resort & Conference Center, for example, has rates beginning at $35 per suite for every 30 minutes, with food and beverage packages available.

“Hotels and resort properties are hungry for more compelling ways to entertain their guests and keep them on property longer, and the COVID golf boom has helped to steer them in the simulator direction,’’ Fierro said, who added that they are being used more for coaching and training purposes as well.

Typical lead time for simulators is roughly 14 weeks, according to Fierro, while the install itself takes an average of three to five days between varying projects.

Grand Hyatt Vail (CO) this past winter converted two meeting rooms into TopGolf Swing Suites, called “Front Nine’’ and “Back Nine.’’ The equipment allows for up to eight people to play the games of their choice, with plenty of room for spectators, cocktail tables and chairs.

High Velocity sports bar also has two Topgolf Swing Suites, each with 11 games. The venue is open to the general public, as well as resort guests.

“Groups like to rent them out,” said Adam Tyler, director of food and beverage at JW Marriott San Antonio Hill Country. “We’ve had up to 100 people when we’ve rented out each bay.”

Each simulator screen also is tied to one of the many TV’s in High Velocity, making it easy for guests throughout the bar to watch kids and adults mow down zombies, play golf, soccer and even hockey.

“As much as we get people in here to show us they are the next Tiger Woods, we also get people who just kind of want to throw a dodgeball at a zombie,’’ Tyler said. “And it gets more fun seeing parents watching their kids have a good time.’’

Steve Pike

Steve Pike is an award-winning golf writer and author who helped define golf business reporting in the early 1990s as the first Golf Business Editor for Golfweek magazine and later at Golf World and Golf Shop Operations magazines for Golf Digest. Pike further pioneered this genre at the PGA of America and Time Warner as the golf business writer and editor for PGA.com. He started in newspapers more than 25 years ago and has covered all sports including Major League Baseball, the NFL, NHL, NBA, as well as beat writer for nationally ranked collegiate baseball and basketball teams. As a travel and golf writer, “Spike” has climbed volcanoes in the Canary Islands, ascended the Great Wall of China, teed off in the Austrian Alps, and shared single-malt scotch with Sir Michael Bonallack at the Royal & Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews, Scotland. A die-hard baseball fan, Pike named his son Zachary Seaver after his childhood hero, New York Mets pitcher Tom Seaver. Pike lives with Zachary, daughter Keilly, and wife Brenda (an ovarian cancer survivor, trained journalist, master teacher, and an active member of the DAR) in the South Florida village of Wellington.

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