Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Chic Outlet Shopping hosts concluding ‘shopping tourism’ roundtable of 2012 at WTM in London

Throughout 2012, the Chic Outlet Shopping Villages by Value Retail have been hosting a series of roundtable discussions exploring the growing trend of Shopping Tourism, specifically within the outlet shopping sector.

Following roundtables at FITUR, ITB, ATM and ILTM Asia, Chic Outlet Shopping brought the conversation to London with an exclusive evening at the iconic Tower of London on 7 November 2012.

The theme, ‘From Product to Promotion: Putting the Luxury Experience on the Map’, saw a panel of industry experts from the fields of tourism, fashion, retail and marketing discuss how brands are moving beyond the product by adapting their marketing approach to create a memorable and enticing experience for the international guest.

The event was attended by more than 170 industry professionals, keen to gain further understanding of the emerging Shopping Tourism sector and how it impacts on luxury retail and travel operators.

Moderator Piers Schmidt, Chairman of Luxury Branding, led a panel of four representatives including Desirée Bollier, Chief Executive of Value Retail Management, Kevin Jones, Strategic Planning Director at Havas Worldwide, Tom Marchant, Co-founder & Managing Director of Black Tomato, and Ian Scott, Director (UK & Ireland), Dubai Tourism Marketing & Commerce. The panel debated how luxury brands are shifting their focus to create experiences that provide the added value the customer has now grown to expect, and discussed issues regarding the growth and impact of Shopping Tourism on the travel industry and the way in which it markets itself.

Kevin Jones, Strategic Planning Director at Havas Worldwide, began the conversation by identifying experience as a “way of shaping a new vocabulary on which engagement can happen” with customers. He emphasised a shift in consumer perception, in that: “Experience is no longer, ‘Wow, this is changing the way that I think about everything’ – but more, ‘Wow, this brand is really meaningful to me on a day to day experiential level’”. He concluded that the key is creating a bespoke experience as “bespoke, by nature, is experience”.

Desirée Bollier, CEO of Value Retail Management, further highlighted the importance of experience, adding, “It is no longer just about the handbag”. Bollier stressed that engagement and offer are the focal points for creating experience: “Our job is to really offer something that you do not know that you really want. You arrive at one of our Villages and you get the surprise element of the hospitality and services on offer, and the experience becomes stupendous… our brand communication is to be absolutely engaged with our customers, to be relevant to them and to communicate with them – to create an emotional link.”

The bespoke element was at the forefront of Co-founder & Managing Director of Black Tomato, Tom Marchant’s opinion, as he added: “Great products and great services in isolation do not necessarily make an exceptional travel experience. In this increasingly globalised world… what becomes more important to people is having an experience that is very personal and unique to them.”

Further highlighting the growing trend in Shopping Tourism and the importance of the experience and location, Ian Scott, Director (UK & Ireland) Dubai Tourism Marketing & Commerce, added, “The shopping element in Dubai is an experience. The malls there are extraordinary; it is not just about the shopping”. Desirée finished the conversation stating, “Shopping and tourism always existed… all we did was connect the dots”.

The nine Chic Outlet Shopping Villages by Value Retail, perfectly illustrate the concept of Shopping Tourism in Europe. In 2011, the Collection of Chic Outlet Shopping? Villages attracted more than 29 million visitors, up by more than 12% compared with the same period last year.

Source = Chic Outlet Shopping,

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