Out-of-home entertainment defines any form of entertainment in venues outside the home, from locations as big as amusement parks to smaller ones like museums or family entertainment centers. Many of these locations have struggled to stay relevant due to the advent of bigger and better at-home entertainment options. But they can still keep up with the times if they invest in new and innovative technology.
Making out-of-home entertainment relevant again
During the COVID-19 pandemic, many out-of-home entertainment experiences ground to a halt as consumers were forced to stay at home due to widespread shutdowns. The result was a drastic improvement in the quality of at-home entertainment options. People were sitting at home either working remotely, or furloughed or laid off from their jobs, giving them more time than ever for at-home leisure — especially since they didn’t have the option to leave their homes for entertainment.
Now that the world has returned to something resembling normalcy, this has left people and companies who provide out-of-home entertainment experiences with the unique challenge of exceeding even higher-than-usual expectations. While people are willing and eager to leave their homes, the incentives to do so are minimal if the out-of-home experience is equivalent to or less impressive than an in-home entertainment experience. Out-of-home entertainment must be genuinely exceptional these days to convince people to get off their couches.
Design firms such as Zeitgeist Design & Production, based in Pasadena, California, are working to meet these expectations with ingenuity and creativity. Zeitgeist’s leader, Ryan Harmon, has decades of experience working as a designer and storyteller for major theme parks, including time as a Disney Imagineer and working for Universal Creative. This background allows him to run Zeitgeist on the cutting edge of entertainment experiences.
For example, one of the more recent projects that the Zeitgeist team worked on was Hersheypark Dark Nights, an extension of Hersheypark’s beloved Halloween event. These haunted houses developed by Zeitgeist are on a different level from what visitors may be used to seeing from Halloween-themed experiences, incorporating extraordinarily detailed sets and special effects with scare actors to deliver an experience as frightening as it is immersive.
Creating immersive out-of-home entertainment
For out-of-home entertainment experiences, immersion is the key to attracting consumers and convincing them to leave their homes. “With their out-of-home entertainment experiences, people want to feel an escape,” explains Harmon. “The best way to make people want to leave their homes is by making them feel like they’re leaving this world and stepping into another one.”
One tool that companies use to help create immersive entertainment experiences is virtual reality, or VR. This technology, which once existed on the gaming industry’s fringes, has progressed so substantially that it has been implemented into several entertainment offerings.
“The development of virtual reality technology has allowed virtual reality games to become much better and more immersive for gamers,” explains Almir Brljak, chief operating officer of Sinn Studio, the developer behind VR smash hit ‘Swordsman VR.’ “However, we also see virtual reality in other ways: VR concerts, VR training simulations, and more.”
Out-of-home entertainment experiences also incorporate VR and associated technologies into their offerings. For example, theme parks are now opening rides that integrate augmented reality technology, and museums are now using VR to offer museum tours or make exhibits more interactive. By combining these out-of-home experiences with technology that was allowed to improve thanks to its at-home use, companies have the opportunity to deliver a revolutionary, immersive entertainment experience to their customers.
By implementing these exciting new technologies and strategies, out-of-home entertainment experiences do not have to fade into irrelevance. “Consumers are more eager than ever to leave their homes as long as they are given the reason to do so,” says Harmon. “There is no better reason to give them than a revolutionary experience they couldn’t have anywhere else.”