Fit for purpose

Fit for purpose

Total Property - Issue 4 2018

Taking a lead from global trends, enterprising Kiwi business owners are changing up the traditional uses for commercial and industrial property with niche recreation and “experiential” operations gaining momentum.

When Sandra and David Mu decided to follow their gut instincts and introduce indoor trampolining to the New Zealand public six years ago, they struggled to find a landlord prepared to share their vision for a spring-loaded urban playground.

“Landlords couldn’t envisage how it worked and how we would pay the rent,” says Sandra Mu.

Fast-forward to late-2013 and the first JUMP venue opened in an industrial park in East Tamaki, Auckland with a patchwork of inter-locking trampolines of all sizes, covering the floor and walls of a 1,000 square metre warehouse.

Today, JUMP has indoor trampolining parks on the North Shore and Avondale in Auckland and in Frankton, Hamilton.

The concept has taken off in New Zealand and there a number of other operators around the country who have jumped onboard the indoor trampolining train.

In terms of growth in this arena, the challenge for operators will be in finding suitable large-scale industrial property given the strong competition from the logistics and distribution sectors.

Escape room adventure games where players have a set time limit to solve a series of puzzles and riddles using clues and strategy to break out of themed, confined spaces debuted in Tokyo around 2007.

Since then, the industry has escalated with an estimated 2,800 escape rooms worldwide according to a Forbes report.

Deep in the bowels of a Wellington CBD office building in Johnson Street is Escape Mate, where director Izabella Venter and her team of creative whizz-millennials has dreamt up a “playground for the mind”.

Intricate story lines, witty game flows and dramatic, theatrical and immersive game sets and designs are drawing the crowds and challenging participants – with an emergency escape button to be activated at any point should players feel trapped.

Venter says she was approached to set up the business several years ago by local investors who believed that Wellington needed an indoor, non-physical, but fun and challenging group activity, suitable for a wide audience.

There are now two themed escape room scenarios on offer at Escape Mate taking cues from the 1930s’-era building.

Venter says the Escape Mate concept took off instantly in Wellington capturing the imaginations of a wide range of people.

“We’re definitely looking at expanding and are tossing ideas around about opening a new venue near Courtenay Place to cater for a more specific market,” she says.

Virtual Reality Studio, in the Auckland suburb of Mt Roskill, was New Zealand’s first virtual reality entertainment centre where participants navigate their way around immersive virtual spaces and environments using a headset and sensor-fitted hand controllers.

Its co-founder Holly White says virtual reality (VR) is the new frontier in entertainment perfect for enjoying solo, with friends, as a family activity, corporate entertainment and birthday parties.

She says when they started out, it was all trial and error but their basic property requirement was for open and adaptable spaces with the potential to expand and fast, reliable fibre internet.

“We had no model to copy as we were right at the forefront internationally,” she explains.

White says there are plans to replicate the Virtual Reality Studio model and they’ll be looking at franchising the business model later this year.

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