An entertainment favourite, Hollywood Bowl leads the ten-pin bowling sector with delicious food, speedy service, and great value for money 

Is it really a fun time out if there isn’t a bit of bowling involved? This writer doesn’t believe so, and, in her humble opinion, bowling should always be accompanied by a refreshing drink and American-themed food, which makes a trip to any Hollywood Bowl location a great outing. 

The business formed in 2010 through the merger of the AMF and Hollywood Bowl brands, according to Chief Operating Officer, Darryl Lewis. “At the time, we had 41 centers in the UK. In 2016, we listed on the market body of the London Stock Exchange having recently acquired 11 Bowlplex centers, which were rebranded to Hollywood Bowl. The AMF centers have all subsequently been rebranded to Hollywood Bowl,” he explains. The company operates 66 bowling centers and five Puttstars mini golf centers in the UK. In 2022, it also acquired the Splitsville brand in Canada and now operates 11 bowling centers in the Canadian market. Holywood Bowl burger

Darryl has been with the business for over ten years and knows how to make a trip to a Hollywood Bowl location an enjoyable one. “I started as a Regional Director in 2013 and have been privileged to work with some very talented people over that time. Before Hollywood Bowl, I worked for over 20 years in the cinema industry in various operational roles, so have always been very motivated and focused in supporting teams to deliver exceptional experiences for customers.”  

So how would Darryl describe the experience of a visit to a Hollywood Bowl? “We believe that our customer service is a true differentiation in a competitive leisure market. We focus on four critical customer satisfaction drivers: value for money, cleanliness, team friendliness and service speed. Our customer experience programs provide valuable insights into customer preferences, by digitally capturing satisfaction levels following each visit. As well as understanding what our customers want and value, we monitor satisfaction and net promoter scores carefully and are always ready to react quickly to any operational issue or respond to customer feedback. Team member bonuses are linked to the customer satisfaction drivers, which helps improve center performance, revenues, and yields. When refurbishing centers, we also consider reconfiguring floor areas to maximize revenue and center yields. For example, we introduced mini golf into our Hollywood Bowl Leeds center, resulting in enhanced customer experience and more reasons to stay with us for longer.” 

Award-winning workplace 

On the hospitality side, Darryl explains that the company has a simple strategy for food and drink delivery with a focus on speed, quality, consistency and value-for-money which is driving growth in these areas. “New menu items have been added in line with customer feedback and sales data, and although we have made some small changes to price to mitigate food inflationary increases, the most popular menu items are still below their 2019 price points. Our drinks range also offers excellent value-for-money, underpinned by further enhancements to the at-lane ordering systems and the national rollout of a new drinks range,” he explains. 

Bowling at Holywood BowlBut the business doesn’t just work exceptionally hard for its customers, it also takes care of its team. So much so that in 2023, the company was listed in the UK’s Top 25 Companies to Work For, for a second consecutive year. “Our Hemel Hempstead support office was ranked number three for its working practices, placing us amongst a select few businesses, having a positive, fun, high-performance group culture and a clear purpose that is well understood and that underpins the way our teams work. We operate a best-in-leisure support structure for our teams in every aspect of the business. We have a fantastic top talent program that offers support and development at all levels of the organization to ensure rewarding careers for our team members. We also have a culture of rewarding our teams for demonstrating the behaviors that really drive our success as well as a bonus scheme for all team members in center.” 

Furthermore, the business is attuned to the importance of its supplier network, and recognizes the critical role each supplier plays in the company’s overall operations. “We consider our relationships with suppliers as a partnership as they are critical in our value chain to help us deliver an exceptional experience to our customers and keep our prices competitive. We meet on a frequent basis to gain feedback on market trends and in turn, inform our suppliers about team and customer feedback.” 

Sustainability strategy 

Operating sustainably is another critical element to the company’s operations, and serves as a pillar for the Hollywood Bowl’s continued success as it looks to minimize its impact on the environment. “Running our business in a sustainable manner is a key focus for us and is integral to our decision making. We met our key 2023 targets across our three sustainability pillars: safe and inclusive destinations, outstanding workplaces and sustainable centers. Additionally, we have installed solar panels in more than 40 percent of our UK centers, which is helping reduce our reliance on purchased electricity.” 

With all of these measures in place, the future looks exciting for the UK and Canada’s largest bowling business. From Darryl’s perspective, 2023 was a fantastic year, however the COO is looking forward to continuing to support the company’s future growth plans. “We have some fantastic new centers opening and some great plans with our refurbishment programs that will continue to keep our customers highly satisfied to enjoy our amazing venues. We will continue to evolve our offering to ensure we stay ahead of market trends and continue bringing families and friends together for affordable fun and safe, healthy competition.” 

Beyond 2024, his vision for the company is to continue to grow, improve, listen to customers, innovate, and offer a market-leading leisure experience for its customers across the UK and Cananda.