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Consumer behaviour is changing faster than almost everyone predicted, so the need for shopping centres to stand out to drive growth has become acute. But how is the industry responding? Technology is a constant theme, and ‘experience’ has been a focus across the industry for some time, but what next?


By Robert Goodman General manager of Bluewater


A


t Bluewater, we are moving our emphasis to ‘enjoyment’, and our rationale is simple: one can have a good or bad experience, but enjoyment is always positive.


To deliver enjoyment for guests that really has an


impact on the bottom line is not about repackaging customer service initiatives or laying on a few events. To be effective, enjoyment has to be part of a centre’s DNA. Our approach at Bluewater is much more Disneyesque


than traditional shopping centre. We treat visitors as guests, technology is used to facilitate an enjoyable experience, rather than an answer in itself, and we have created a series of statement stores. The purpose of all this is to ensure guests enjoy their visit to Bluewater because, when they do, they spend more time and money. They also tell their friends and family, which in the age of social media, is highly influential on the behaviour of others. We make great efforts to measure the effectiveness of


what we are doing as well so we can refine and enhance the experience to make it more enjoyable. Working in partnership with Service Management Group, we analyse guest feedback on their experiences in almost real-time, and utilise the insight to refine existing initiatives and test new ideas. So far, we have collected insight from more than 12,000 people. The research is proving invaluable - 96% of guests


have a positive overall experience at Bluewater, with 76% highly likely to recommend Bluewater to friends or family.


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