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How to Transform a Shopping Center into a Community Hub with Guided Tours

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Here is why and how shopping centers can capitalize on the growing trend of guided tours to engage the community while increasing foot traffic and revenue.

Many shopping centers worldwide seek creative ideas to transform their malls into community centers. They know that with the rise of online shopping, they have to offer more than just retail to attract and retain customers, especially the younger generations.

One promising strategy, based on a recent GetYourGuide survey, is to capitalize on the growing interest in guided tours, particularly among Millennials and Gen Z.

Here, you will learn why and how shopping centers can embrace this trend while also providing you with a successful case study:

The Rising Popularity of Guided Tours

The GetYourGuide report, which surveyed 1,000 people in the US, reveals that 81% of Millennials and 80% of Gen Z will likely book a guided tour next year.

Additionally, two in five Millennials (42%) and Gen Z (40%) leisure travelers booked a guided tour in the past year, far outpacing Gen X and Boomers.

This interest is driven by a desire for authentic experiences.

Madison Pietrowski, Director of Brand US at GetYourGuide, notes: 

“Each year, our research shows us how experiences have become more valuable for consumers. Younger generations are driving this trend and discovering that the best way to connect with and learn about the world is through authentic guided experiences.”

Why Guided Tours?

Guided tours offer an authentic and immersive way to explore new destinations.

For more than two-thirds (69%) of leisure travelers, these tours provide a deep dive into the history of a city or landmark. Other top reasons include the chance to explore local cuisine (40%) and the opportunity to meet locals (28%). Guided tours of famous landmarks (31%) and museums (22%) are also popular.

Food-focused tours are particularly popular, with 65% of Gen Z and 63% of Millennials likely to schedule such tours.

Additionally, 68% seek out tours led by knowledgeable and charismatic local guides who can offer unique perspectives and hidden gems.

Why Shopping Centers Should Embrace Guided Tours?

1. Guided tours can draw more visitors to shopping centers, increasing foot traffic:

By offering unique, curated experiences, malls can attract not just tourists but also locals seeking new adventures.

2. Guided tours can boost sales for the shopping center tenants.

Tour participants are more likely to make purchases during and after the tour, benefiting from exclusive offers and discounts provided by the retailers.

3. Shopping centers can foster a sense of community by hosting guided tours.

Tours are an excellent way for locals and tourists to meet new people, socialize and expand their knowledge of the local culture and heritage.

How to Implement Guided Tours in Shopping Centers

1. Offer Thematic Tours:

Develop a variety of tours that cater to different interests. Options could include historical tours, architectural tours, food and beverage tours, and even fashion-focused tours.

2. Utilize Technology:

Leverage technology to enhance the tour experience. Offer app-based tours with interactive maps, multimedia content, and real-time updates. This can make the tours more accessible and engaging for tech-savvy Millennials and Gen Z.

3. Incorporate Exclusive Offers:

Partner with retailers to provide exclusive discounts and offers to tour participants. This not only incentivizes participation but also encourages spending within the mall.

4. Connect Tours with Special Events:

Organize tours around holidays, local festivals, or mall anniversaries. These events can attract larger crowds and create a festive atmosphere that encourages shopping and exploration.

Case Study: Rajiceva Shopping Center


An excellent example of a shopping center that has successfully utilized guided tours is Rajiceva Shopping Center in Belgrade.

They created an innovative app called Rajiceva’s BGD Fashion Tour, launched during the shopping center’s 6th anniversary in September 2023. The app offers a virtual fashion history tour in Belgrade, guiding users through lesser-known locations in the city’s historical center.

In just a month, the app attracted over 50,000 downloads via Google Play and 17,000 downloads via the Apple Store. The tour highlights places where fashion history was made, offering fascinating stories pivotal to the development of Belgrade’s fashion scene.

To start the tour, participants had to visit the shopping center. Upon completing the tour, participants received a coffee voucher redeemable at the shopping center, which enhanced the overall experience and drove foot traffic back to the mall.

Key Takeaway

Guided tours present a compelling opportunity for shopping centers to boost foot traffic, increase revenue, and create a vibrant community hub.

By offering unique, curated experiences, malls can attract a diverse range of visitors, from local residents to tourists. Embracing this trend can transform shopping centers into destinations that offer much more than just retail, fostering community engagement and enhancing the overall visitor experience.

As Millennials and Gen Z lead the comeback of guided tours, shopping centers that adapt to this trend will be well-positioned to thrive in the evolving retail market.

Need More Advice?

If you need more creative ideas on transforming your shopping center into a community hub, contact us for a personalized research report at or connect with Nevena Kostic on LinkedIn.
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