First there was Bounce, then Jump Boxx, now Australia’s largest network of trampoline parks, Flip Out, is opening a Dubai branch this month.
Despite only launching Down Under two years ago, the company already has 39 locations at home and six locations internationally.
Which is why Brent Grundy, the founder and chief executive of Flip Out believes now is the perfect time to open in Dubai.
“We’ve actually been in Dubai for the last two years, doing our research and finding the right venue,” he says. “Dubai has a regional focus. Everyone is looking at Dubai to see what the next big, on-the-stage product is going to be. If we can get it right here it will be our launch pad for the rest of the Middle East.” Flip Out has plans to open 11 more sites across the region.
Yet indoor trampoline parks are a relatively recent phenomenon.
The craze started in the United States, with 345 parks open by the end of 2014 and quickly spread internationally, with a current estimate of 220 parks in the rest of the world, according to the International Association of Trampoline Parks (IATP).
The trend shows no sign of slowing down, with the US-based IATP receiving several inquiries a week from companies interested in opening new parks around the world.
The indoor parks consist of large trampolines laid out grid-style with soft foam padding covering the hard, metal frames. They cover vast areas, 25,000 to 30,000 square feet and are popular with all age groups, but mainly a core target customer base aged five to 20.
At 40,000 sq ft, Flip Out is aiming to be the king of trampoline parks in Dubai size-wise; Bounce, which opened in June 2014, and Jump Boxx, which opened two months later, are both 25,000 sq ft.
“The Dubai facility will be the largest trampoline park in the Middle East with over 200 interconnected trampolines and 10 trampoline-based attractions including many that are brand new,” says Sameer Ali, director of Flip Out Middle East and North Africa.
It will also be the most expensive site in the Flip Out network, costing twice as much to fit out as any previous park owned by the company.
However, in a relatively small market such as Dubai, there is a potential challenge with having three similar businesses competing for customers. Bounce and Flip Out, for example, will be located just 3.3 kilometres apart in Al Quoz.
“Theoretically, from a customer perspective, there’s no such thing as too much competition,” says Catalin Cighi, managing partner of Cain Hospitality Innovation.
“In the attempt to differentiate themselves, businesses are forced to innovate or risk losing market share.
“In practice, it is also conceivable that a small customer base gets spread too thin and businesses are forced to cut costs to preserve profit margins. They then run the risk of entering a downwards spiral where poor maintenance and low service levels eventually reduce the quality of customer experience.”
Mr Grundy, 35, certainly isn’t concerned.
Before launching the first Flip Out park in Sydney in 2012, the entrepreneur says he was down to his “last A$200 [Dh547]”. When the park opened, that A$200 went into the till to provide change for the venue’s first guests.
“I love competition and find it exciting,” he says.
“The others have helped us test the market. The equipment is constantly changing and we are always adding activities. We continually change the park set up to keep it interesting for the kids.”
Nearby at Bounce, the co-founder Doran Davies says its features such as wall running, a flight academy, where experts teach jumps and stunt courses, and after dark parties – discos/club nights in the trampoline park between 8pm and midnight – ensure its customers never get bored. Bounce is expanding to Al Ain and Abu Dhabi this year.
And Gary Knill, owner of Jump Boxx, which is based in Uptown Mirdiff, is not fearful of an overcrowded market.
“Dubai is a large city with many families and due to the weather being too hot in summer to support outdoor activity an indoor climate-controlled activity does well,” he says. “The fact that there are currently two parks in Dubai reinforces the fact that it was a good decision to open up, as this is an activity people are interested in.”
Whether trampoline parks are simply a fad remains to be seen.
But Mr Grundy thinks the experience speaks for itself.
“When you put a tiny baby who can’t walk or talk on a trampoline, you only have to see their face to see the immense enjoyment they get out of it,” he says. “Anything that gives kids that emotion isn’t a fad. Environments may change, but trampolines are here to stay.”
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