Fun in Clubland

We are all familiar with bingo clubs, where the emphasis is on bingo, but not quite so familiar perhaps with club bingo, where the emphasis is very much on ‘club’.

Leading the charge has been Bongo’s Bingo, formed by Jonny Lacey AKA Jonny Bingo and Joshua Burke back in 2015. Josh shared details of their inspiration and initial journey at The Bingo Association’s AGM in 2017, since when they have taken their particular brand of ‘club’ bingo around the UK and overseas. Following quickly on their heels were similar ‘club’ night bingo-based promoters, including many in the Drag and LGBTQ+ communities, each creating bingo nights at various venues around the UK, all of which have taken bingo to new audiences.

The entertainment element of these nights has been the winning component, but the challenge for many has been finding suitably sized and licensed venues. What if you already have the venue?

A number of licensed bingo club operators have tentatively explored alternative bingo nights: aft er hours (post 9.30 pm following regular session), aft er dark, players bingo, looking to expand the appeal of bingo, with Majestic Bingo’s ‘Clubingo’ brand growing out of their ongoing company development strategy, Generations.

We spoke with Mark Jepp, Managing Director of Majestic Bingo about Majestic’s journey into club land and the development of the now trademarked Clubingo and No Limits Bingo.

How did Clubingo get it’s start?
Clubingo, came about as part of our wider company strategy, Generations, which is aimed at segmenting our customer base, creating and tailoring our bingo products and offers to the various different age demographics who visit our clubs, without alienating existing loyal customers.

Generations is a piece of work we conducted with our marketing partner, Creative 62, where the demographic was broken down into sub groups, that cover millennials, generation X and Z, and baby boomers.

Who thought about bringing Clubingo to Majestic?
The Clubingo  concept was always in our minds, and originally had a working title of ‘Saturday Social’. This started our journey to create a fun, engaging night of bingo ‘with a difference’ unashamedly aimed at a younger age group. This then morphed into the ‘Big Night Out’, a name born from our online initiative during lockdown called The Big Night In.

It was at this point that Stuart Booth became available from his previous role at Mecca Bingo, meaning the stars somewhat aligned, and Clubingo was born.

What were the business objectives?
As part of our Generations strategy Clubingo has been created specifically to appeal to a younger audience, delivering an entertaining bingo experience that appeals to both existing and new players in the younger age demographic.

“The Big Night Out” launched in July with the original objective being to grow existing visits but also to find a reason for players to extend their time with us, as traditionally the majority of players leave after the main session. These events are bridging the gap between old and new, through making the overall presentation of bingo and other games more graphically rich supported by sound beds, resulting in a much more fun and immersive experience.

Big Night Out helped to develop a clear pathway to launching and delivering a series of larger events including a number of different concepts, which feature our new bingo show called ‘No Limits Bingo’. This is bingo aimed at a younger audience although we’ve been pleasantly surprised at the diverse age ranges that have attended and had a thoroughly enjoyable experience.

No Limits Bingo is best described as a crazy night of fun games with a live host and in-house DJ playing bingo games where the audience is actively encouraged to sing, shout, dance and just have fun. With massive sound and lighting systems, dancers and all sorts of weird and wonderful prizes (think Life-size celebrity cut-outs, huge inflatable unicorns and giant cuddly toys), the emphasis is on fun. It’s cheeky, a bit naughty but the reaction has been amazing. These nights then transform again when a top Clubland style DJ act takes to the stage and delivers 60 plus minutes of top notch club anthems and the crowd gets up to rave for the rest of the night.

All our events to date have been a sell out and the customer feedback has been overwhelmingly positive. Comments include “The atmosphere was brilliant, it was such a good night”, “Everything about the night was amazing”, “The act was brilliant, very funny bingo, loved the girl hosting it”, “Took me 2 days to recover from my hangover but can’t wait to go again”, “Best Night out I’ve had in years”.

How has this move fitted into the broader business plan?
Bingo quite rightly continues to be our key focus, however as we work to rebuild the business in the post pandemic landscape, we recognise the need to diversify and explore new ways of utilising our clubs. Many of the events we are delivering do not impact on our current sessions but rather focus on the times the clubs would normally be emptying. By keeping the club full and continuing the night into the early hours, this is delivering positive financial results. The monthly events in our clubs have given us a material spike in new member registrations and these people are making return visits, creating a pipeline of new
members for our regular sessions.

How successful were the original trials in Mansfield and Barrow?
Very! All our original expectations were surpassed and delivered very encouraging results with incremental growth in visits and profit on each subsequent event. 2022 will see us expand to other clubs across the Majestic estate and beyond, with a mix of Big Night Out, larger events, and headline acts, all under our ‘Clubingo  Presents’ banner. We are also in discussions with other businesses in the leisure and hospitality sector to take Clubingo  ‘on tour’.

We’ve also teamed up with ‘Roshambo Live’ to bring our Clubingo visitors a new and interactive experience where the audience participate using their own device supported by our in club audio visual systems (provide by Willow Communications) to give another element of fun. We hope this will be the first of many collaborations with our new partners.

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