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Entertainment in Shopping Centers: How to Increase Foot Traffic and Sales?

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REPEX Retail & Property Expo panel reveals how entertainment can boost foot traffic and sales within shopping centers.

At the recent REPEX Retail & Property Expo held in Sarajevo, Nevena Kostic, Director of Retail SEE Group, held a panel discussion with representatives from CineStar Cinemas, Twister Fun Park, Fantasia Works, and Giftify.

The topic was how entertainment can boost foot traffic and sales within shopping centers.

Here are the main takeaways:

1. Twister Fun Park – The Importance of Playgrounds in Shopping Centers:

Margareta Obrovac, the Director of Twister Fun Park, emphasized playgrounds’ crucial role in attracting visitors to shopping centers.

Playgrounds, such as Twister, have become essential for the success of shopping centers because they provide a secure space for children to play while allowing parents to shop without worry. This convenience prolongs visitors’ stay, contributing to heightened customer satisfaction and increased revenue for the shopping centers.

For example, Twister playgrounds in 6 shopping centers across Croatia draw over 3% of the total center foot traffic. Annually, these playgrounds attract over 550,000 children and over 700,000 parents.

Margareta highlighted how playgrounds can boost sales by collaborating with other tenants and brands through joint promotions. These promotions can be shared discount activities, collaborative events, or coordinated online marketing activities. Twister has partnered with many brands, bringing additional revenue to the malls.

Margareta also stressed that, ultimately, the quality of the playground service itself serves as the primary driver for increased footfall and sales. Twister Fun Park invests significantly in staff training to ensure they establish trust with parents, which benefits shopping centers as trust builds loyalty and repeated visits. Their dedication was recognized with a Moms Choice award in 2024, affirming their status as Croatia’s most trusted playground service.

Fortunately, they are now exploring opportunities to expand their high-quality playground services to shopping centers across the SEE region. They are open to receiving offers for new leasing opportunities.

2. CineStar Cinemas – Cinemas as Community Hubs:

Jadranka Islamović, CEO of CineStar Cinemas, the leading cinema chain in the SEE region, discussed their significant contribution to driving foot traffic to shopping centers.

CineStar, as a shopping center anchor, caters to all generations, with families being a crucial demographic, given its programming, which includes many animations and family-friendly movies. However, CineStar has also been very successful in attracting Generation Z, a demographic that is challenging to reach through traditional marketing channels.

One key to their success was their technological innovations and collaboration with shopping center marketing departments. They often co-host premieres and movie-themed events that attract the media, influencers, and new visitors. They also frequently involve other tenants in giveaways, which attracts new customers of all age groups.

Additionally, CineStar pioneered the concept of destination cinemas. They are the first cinema operator in the region to include additional amenities such as birthday rooms, bars, and even a Gold Class format cinema hall where staff serves visitors dinner and drinks during a movie. This has transformed their cinema spaces into true community hubs.

In 2019, the International Union of Cinemas (UNIC) named CineStar the best cinema exhibitor in Europe. The award was given for exceptional dedication to providing its audience the best possible cinema experience, emphasizing constant innovation.

Today, CineStar operates in 28 shopping centers across the region and will continue expanding.

3. Fantasia Works – Social Entertainment in Shopping Centers:

Sandra Truskina, representative of Fantasia Works, emphasized the growing demand for entertainment for all age groups.

As shopping centers evolve into community hubs, so-called “social entertainment” venues offering opportunities for networking and enjoyment have become extremely popular worldwide. Many examples led to the conclusion that it is now important to create fun spaces for adults as well as kids.

Fantasia Works aims to expand this social entertainment trend in the SEE region by providing tailored entertainment solutions that resonate with each shopping center’s specific needs.

4. Giftify – Enhancing Foot Traffic and Revenue through Increased Collaboration:

Miranda Hrustemović from Giftify highlighted the increasing importance of shopping center managers collaborating with tenants and external partners to drive foot traffic and revenue.

Drawing from Giftify’s extensive experience working with over 400 shopping centers worldwide, Miranda showcased how their gift card solutions have achieved this objective.

For example, collaborating with airlines like easyJet to distribute gift cards to shopping center destinations among randomly selected boarding ticket holders represents an innovative approach to new customer attraction. By also partnering with retailers, shopping centers can devise engaging campaigns around product launches or exclusive events, offering gift cards as prizes or incentives.

Such initiatives have proven highly effective in boosting foot traffic, increasing sales by over 30%, and enhancing customer engagement.

Miranda is eager to assist shopping centers across the SEE region in crafting customized gift card strategies to boost foot traffic, loyalty, and sales.

The Main Takeaway:

In conclusion, as shopping centers evolve into community hubs, entertainment emerges as the new cornerstone for driving foot traffic and sales.

While incorporating additional entertainment venues into the tenant mix is crucial, enhancing collaboration between tenants and shopping center marketing managers is equally important.

Entertainment is the new anchor in modern shopping centers.

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