Home-grown brand, The Smash Room is an unconventional – and innovative – addition to the UAE’s leisure offerings. The 3,000 sqft converted warehouse in Al Quoz is akin to a rage room that encourages visitors to break things – from discarded VCRs to CPUs as well as televisions, refrigerators and cars.
Co-founded by Hiba Balfaqih and Ibrahim Abudyak, this ingenious business venture has struck a chord with a diverse set of people. Several government departments – such as Abu Dhabi Police, Dubai Tourism and Dubai Economic Development – and corporate companies, including Facebook Middle East, LinkedIn and Atlantis The Palm, have used the facility for team building activities.
“Our audience is very diverse, including young Emiratis, especially women, to Japanese tourists and parents seeking a safe place for their children to break things. In fact, our ratio is skewed 72% towards women, and we have been able to record 15% repeat clientele,” Abudyak revealed “Importantly, our footfall isn’t seasonal. But it requires creativity to get new and old people through the doors and smash things.”
“Summer months are busier than winter, since The Smash Room is an indoor facility,” he continued. “What’s important, however, is the average transaction than the number of people. There could be months when fewer people visit us, but the average transaction is high. Overall, every month, we record an average of 250-300 transactions and around 400-500 people. Visitations did drop during Ramadan this year, but we recorded brisk business during the first half of the month post the holy month.”
At the time of The Smash Room’s launch, towards beginning of 2018, there were only two-or-three such concepts globally but operated at a much smaller scale from someone’s garage and backyard. “A concept that’s close to The Smash Room existed in Singapore. In that sense, we chose a less trodden path, which gained popularity very swiftly,” Balfaqih stated.
Going forward, the co-founders are actively evaluating franchise opportunities. “We have received a lot of interest from different countries – from Saudi Arabia to South Africa as well as the UK and the US,” shared Balfaqih. “Initially, we focused on getting the brand ready to be franchised, and now we are ready to leap. We hope to have two franchises by 2020.” “Gradually the pace will accelerate, as we would like to see 40 smash rooms around the world in the next five years,” Abudyak added.
Words by Katie Streten Experiential Strategy Director, VMLY&R COMMERCE Throughout the last year,June 13, 2021 | By Shruthi Nair
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