Urban Air Fuels Expansion With $700K in Incentives for ‘3-Pack’ Franchise Deals

The indoor entertainment park pioneer opened more than 50 locations last year. Despite COVID-19, Urban Air's rapid growth continues—with some flexibility and innovation along the way.

Urban Air franchise incentives

Urban Air Adventure Park, which grew from a single trampoline park in Southlake to a worldwide chain in just under a decade, is investing in its expansion despite a global pandemic. The indoor park pioneer has an “Ultimate Adventure” for new franchisees that sign multi-unit development agreements.

The program offers incentives up to $700,000 with the purchase of three franchise agreements by the end of the year, the Bedford-based company said in a news release. 

Encouraging package deals makes sense for the rapidly-growing company. Multi-park owners represent about half of the company’s current franchise system, according to Josh Wall, Chief Franchise Officer at Urban Air.

The incentives in the Ultimate Adventure program support franchisees as they continue to reinvest in the Urban Air brand and offer successful owners an opportunity to “take advantage of the current commercial real estate landscape,” he said.

Market-leading indoor entertainment

“Urban Air had an extraordinary year of industry-leading growth in 2019,” CFO Wall said.

The company welcomed more than 20 million guests—a record year—and opened more than 50 parks in 2019, with another 18 new locations in the first half of 2020. With another 16 parks slated to open this year, the company said it expects to end the year with 150 open locations.

Part of the new incentive program includes timing: the three parks must open on a specified schedule within 24 months. 

Urban Air was ranked No. 1 in the entertainment category by Entrepreneur magazine for two years consecutive years, and the company says it’s the largest adventure park operator in the world, as well as a market leader in the location-based entertainment industry.

Innovating is core to the company: Urban Air’s “first-in-category” Endless Play membership program recently won the ‘Most Innovative Use of Technology: Products’ category in the Franchise Innovation Awards.

Another key is flexbility, especially in a year like 2020. 

“We believe speed and innovation wins,” CEO Michael Browning said in Franchise Times earlier this year. “In a time of crisis, you don’t have months and months and months to whiteboard it out, and create these sophisticated plans.”

Browning, who co-founded the company in 2011, added, “Don’t be afraid to contradict yourself. Make decisions based on the information you have at the time, and if you wake up the next day and say things have changed, that’s OK.”

“There is no playbook,” he said. This year, the company put together a “franchisee relief package,” coordinated closing the parks to lead social distancing effort “for the overall good of the world” in unity with two other family entertainment brands, and approached banks along with franchisees to ask for loan relief, according to the publication.

But unlike other businesses such as restaurants, Urban Air Parks “operate on very healthy margins,” he noted in Franchise Times. An average park “costs $2.5 million to open, but once it’s open the cost of goods is quite low” he said.

“Last year 82 percent of our organic growth was from franchisees buying another park using cash flow.” 

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