Veltmeijer Group sets table for success, expands during pandemic

AT: John W.C. Robinson

THE NETHERLANDS — 2020 was an unexpected year filled with challenges the industry never saw coming as well as severely handcuffing the way of life for so many across the globe. Many began 2020 with the highest of hopes and the Veltmeijer Group was no exception. Based in The Netherlands, the family entertainment center giant — which operates Gamestate, Gamecity and Gametown locations throughout Europe — was poised for major expansion prior to the pandemic.

“In early 2020, we set out our plan for the next three years — including which Holiday Park locations to restyle into Gametown locations,” said Roger Tubée, Veltmeijer Group’s CEO. “It consisted of planning for Gamestate, and the remodelling of Gametown and Gamecity. Then, of course, in March 2020, the first lockdowns came.”

Despite the lockdowns, Tubée and Veltmijer Group were able to work at keeping their plans on track. “For 15 months, we [were] closed for over 50% of the time. Nevertheless, we managed to open up one Gamestate in 2020, and another, just recently, in 2021. We also remodeled seven Gametown and Gamecity locations.”

“We [were] a very healthy company from a financial perspective,” said Tubée. “This made it possible for us to continue with our plans during the lockdown. The Holiday Parks had some big refurbishments, and we were able to remodel our arcade into our Gametown model.”

The Gamestate, Gametown, and Gamecity teams took advantage of the lockdown and hustled together, getting themselves ready to open one location after another as soon as the restrictions eased.

“We used our downtime for maintenance, to make sure we are 100% ready for reopening and to future-proof for the coming years,” explained Tubée. “Despite the challenges that we face during the pandemic, we are fortunate we could proceed with our robust expansion plan across Europe. We are proud of our team’s effort and our collaboration with Embed to make all the opening of our new venues possible and seamless.”

However, the Veltmeijer Group did not just expand their location-base, they improved their location by performing updates and maintenance throughout the pandemic.

“The pandemic brought about a transformative shift in technology. Scanning temperatures, QR-code check-ins and contactless transactions became the norm and technology has taken its place as a fundamental lynchpin of the industry’s future,” detailed Tubée. “We are proud of our team’s effort and our collaboration with Embed to make the opening of our new venues possible and seamless. We are pleased to have Embed’s cashless technology in our venues, especially now that cashless payment solution is rising as it ensures guests’ safety.”

Veltmeijer Group installed Embed’s award-winning smartTOUCH readers, which included a customized message: “Please Clean This Game After Use.” Embed’s self-service kiosk helped the company during this period as well as its FEC guests.

“Without a system such as Embed’s, money collection out of machines can take almost
half a day,” stated Tubée. “[We] get daily reporting on machines in terms of ticket payout, gameplay and sales. In the past, with our own system, we had this only once a month.”

“We are extremely proud and excited with all the recent openings of Gamestate, Gametown, and Gamecity amusement centers across Europe,” said Daniel Hudson, global head of sales for Embed. “The smooth and successful implementation of Embed integrated solutions at these respective sites is fundamentally due to the great collaboration we have with the Veltmeijer Group. We look forward to many years of fueling fun in their venues, supporting them to improve and achieve success at every step, from their venue renovations to their ongoing expansion plans.”

The Veltmeijer Group is also keen to use Embed’s Mobile Wallet as the company views itself as  a technology pioneer in the industry. It is exploring more hands-free solutions at its venue due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“As the landscape shifts, seeing changes in consumer behaviour and adapting the core business to meet evolving customer needs is key,” said Tubée.

With Mobile Wallet, its customers will no longer have to buy and carry a game card as their mobile phones are always with them. Embed’s Mobile Wallet was offered for free to all customers in order to help the industry shift to cashless and touchless payment options.

“We first saw the Mobile Wallet at [IAAPA Expo 2019], and we were very enthusiastic about that technologically,” said Tubée. “Since then, we have been working hard to ensure we are able to incorporate the technology. We are now ready to [roll out] Mobile Wallet. Within a few months, we will have it in all the GameState locations, with the Holiday Park locations to follow.”

As the world slowly begins to exit the recent pandemic and with advancing technology as one of its cornerstones, the Veltmeijer Group shows no signs of slowing down.

“We are optimistic for the future and expect big things from European markets this year,” offered Tubée. “We want to take more GameState arcade locations to Belgium, namely Brussels and Antwerp, and also Germany. Having now completed a project at the Westfield, which is a landmark in that it is the first one in The Netherlands, we probably  will [be adding] more Westfield locations worldwide.

“What we are looking to do in the future is expand the arcade part, especially in the Gamestate locations. We are looking for locations with bigger square footage to see if we can build it up to where we can operate bowling, food and beverage, and virtual reality,” detailed Tubée. “If you go to markets abroad, you have FECs that include everything, so that’s what we are aiming for.”

Tubée summed up Veltmeijer Group’s success in 2020 with the following: “If you are a healthy company in the arcade and leisure industry, you know that when you open your doors, cash will flow again. So it’s more about waiting to come through that difficult period. Once we are through, we will have very strong businesses. Altogether, as we come out of lockdown we will open as a bigger and stronger company than we were in early 2020 when we first closed.”

This article appears in the  JUNE 2021 issue of Amusement Today.
View the entire issue for FREE with our digital edition!