Approach to International Projects

To be successful, a location-based leisure project (LBL) should be designed based upon the local area's culture. Just as culture influences every aspect of an individual's environment and behavior, culture also needs to be considered in every aspect of a leisure venue’s design including the mix, physical environment, the design of events and programming, marketing/branding and operations. This approach contrasts with the typical paradigm in much of international leisure design of simply exporting standard Western/American leisure solutions and designs.

We believe that all leisure projects should respect the local culture. Cultural competence is not only the morally right approach to design and operation of a leisure project, but the one that will maximize success. In our work we have adopted the following Prime Directive of Location-Based Leisure:

  • Develop the project and operate it with understanding and respect for the cultures of its guests and staff.
  • Don't impose your culture, values and customs on them.


  • First thoroughly research the culture, including its norms and values and how it deals with the universal cultural dilemmas.
  • Determine how the culture will relate to the project and how any aspects of the project might be in conflict with the culture, and
  • Then design the physical facility and operations so they will reflect and reinforce the culture and identity of its staff and guests.

Having worked in many diverse cultures in 31 countries on five continents, we have learned how to research, analyze and understand culture as it relates to leisure to assure that we comply with our Prime Directive and produce successful projects for our clients. (Read our article on The Importance of Cultural Competence)

We usually proceed with international projects on a step-by-step basis in three basic phases of work.  However, since each project and client is unique, we tailor our services to the particular project and client’s needs, so the following is only intended as a general guideline.

Phase 1

This first phase includes familiarization with the site and market and preliminary concept development:

  1. Preliminary market evaluation based upon review of available demographic (census) data
  2. Visit to the location to evaluate:
    1. any direct and indirect competition,
    2. cultural factors that will impact the best project concept
    3. the potential project site(s)
  1. Discussion with the client of possible concepts for the project's development, range of project costs and management issues.

Based upon the above, we preliminarily determine market feasibility and recommend a basic project concept, including its mix of entertainment and/or edutainment, dining and other key components.  This also clarifies basic site requirements, approximate building size, etc.

Phase 2

This usually includes development of:

  1. detailed market analysis (based on available demographics information)
  2. preliminary plan (needed to develop a cost estimate)
  3. cost estimate and
  4. financial projections of revenues and expenses.

The above are typically required by clients to be included in their business plans in order to finalize financing and/or investors.  We give our clients a fixed fee proposal for Phase 2 work once the concept is defined and agreed upon in Phase 1, as we need the information from Phase 1 to determine the amount of work required to calculate our fee for Phase 2 work.

Phase 3

This is full project design, specifying and procurement of all equipment, and assistance with startup management.  Until the preliminary plan is developed in Phase 2, we cannot determine the fee for this phase, as we need to clarify the scope of our consulting work and our design team needs to see exactly what the project will include, the size of the site and building, equipment included, etc., in order to determine our fee. The other issue we need to sort out first with our client before we can determine the Phase 3 fee is the scope of our management consulting services, what will be required, as well as what design work we will do and what will be done locally. 

The initial visit for the Phase 1 concept development requires one or two of our senior management staff to spend approximately 2.0 to 3 days at the location.

We do not require a client to commit to all phases of work at once, only one at a time, i.e., a client can contract for the 1st phase of work before committing to Phase 2 work, and can commit to Phase 2 work before committing to Phase 3 work.