ACROSS | The European Retail Real Estate Magazine

Center Management

TAKING HOME MORE THAN YOU BOUGHT

Gastón Gaitán, Manager and Director of theleisureway. Image: theleisureway

So, here we are at the pre-Mapic breakfast. There’s the chat, the stronger-than normal-coffee, and most have ordered an omelet with the inevitable comparison between French and Spanish recipes. But there’s technology on the table and the conversation turns to client appointments and strategy. Then: A last-minute panic fumbling with ID badges and we are inside Mapic.

THELEISUREWAY COLUMN BY GASTÓN GAITÁN

You can feel the energy, with a lot of new players from places such as Tunisia, Egypt, and Iran alongside more seasoned representations. We are planting the theleisureway (TLW) flag this year with our first, well-positioned stand. We see it as a beacon for clients looking towards the future and seeing TLW as partners.

TOGETHERNESS

Around Mapic, it’s clear that the industry is active and hungry for new solutions based on customers’ needs. Perhaps the need is for a new togetherness with the client and other stakeholders. The emotional value we have been preaching is shaping real projects.

Back at the stand, we’re exchanging cards and ideas when one European developer picks out an image of our stained-glass tower. Of course she’s attracted to the sculptural quality, the “wow” effect, and the feeling that it’s all fun and games for kids inside.

Our Vienna project, “The Tree of life,” which is an indoor piece, is also of interest. It’s a 12-meter tower with a climbing activity and a fantastic slide. This project, apart from being a talking point, forms a nexus to the upper galleries of the mall—a great success with families and retailers. This developer is a professional who observes and adapts.

We now engage in a pragmatic discussion of how TLW can offer this type of vertical leisure solution for her project, which demands a limited footprint. It’s very representative of the type of dialogue we have to get results. We will be seeing her again.

I’m reminded that I will be meeting our round-table panelists shortly and, if there was a lunch, it was too brief to be worth mentioning. I’m already at the stand introducing the speakers. The forum is full, the speakers give excellent accounts of their perspectives, and there is a change going on. I can also see that by the guests’ faces in the audience and the quality of the questions asked.

TLW’s Algarve project became a magnetic pole for both the local public and the tourist sector. Image: theleisureway

TLW’s Algarve project became a magnetic pole for both the local public and the tourist sector. Image: theleisureway

The feeling was of urgency, they wanted to go deeper. “Can you work indoors/outdoors?” The faces from the roundtables are now people at our stand. They have come to TLW for a range of reasons. Perhaps they have a mall with a separate, adjacent leisure offer and they now need to bring those two areas together and ensure fluent and productive foot fall, bringing value to every square-meter of the stakeholders’ asset—the seamless concept mentioned in a previous article.

I spoke to several clients with projects at the master planning stage. Here, we can develop our philosophy of togetherness and the TLW team of architects, designers, and technical experts can get to work on a bespoke, holistic solution following the three essential phases that TLW has developed.

Starting with phase 1, strategy, the creative process, and the preliminary concept; moving on to phase 2, concept development and engineering; and finally on to construction, installation, and certification. We are together with you all the way, from A-Z.

Roy Orbison’s “Pretty Woman” blaring at high volume announces the arrival of a group of fantastically attractive models. They can dance, too! The well-mannered gentleman representing several malls in the Middle-East I’m talking with takes a moment to watch them. It’s impossible to hear, but when the party moves on, he tells me how his malls had been applying traditional leisure techniques as add-ons.

They didn’t have a successful positioning of the malls as a third place with an emotional connection to visitors’ needs, however. That is an integral solution, an essential part of which is to study each project on a case-by-case basis. The community we want to create with the mall comes from understanding the community around the mall.

MASTER PLANNING

TLW envisions each shopping center as a unique ecosystem, a destination in which the various elements must actively interact. In this sense, leisure is a key catalyst for the customer’s journey, a nuclear element that will impact on the perception of the overall result.

Our way of seeing is always unique—as are our results. Each TLW project responds to the singular needs of the space and its inhabitants. This holistic approach to shopping centers and their shared areas should provide a real and genuine environment and a range of attractive options for visitors. This is why TLW works with our clients on the master plan.

TLW’s Algarve project. Image: theleisureway

TLW’s Algarve project. Image: theleisureway

Our Algarve project became a magnetic pole for both the local public and the tourist sector. The importance of the natural setting gave us a base upon which to construct a powerful, robust concept coherent with the local culture. But we shouldn’t forget shopping culture.

The pleasure of leisure integrated into the activity of shopping was indispensable for our ideas. In this way, we could focus on the different areas of intervention with specific objectives, from the local public centered on shopping for essentials, to the outer zone oriented to iconic tourism and the discovery of enjoyable leisure.

BRANDING

Our response to a mall’s brand is not to add on leisure solutions that may weaken the image as a whole. New projects are third places. Architecture is morphing around the routes customers take as they follow their emotional journey through the center. It’s strangely comforting that the hypermodern, multi-billion-dollar shopping industry is now looking to get back to the human scale.

People meeting, relaxing, trading, and making it an experience that humanity has enjoyed since our origins. It’s in our DNA. Again, TLW works on the mall’s master planning to inject leisure DNA as part of the story assuring an organic and holistic leisure offer.

The Catalonian Coast is below. We are nearly home and my thoughts drift to Cannes and the charm of the Mediterranean—how I felt, strolling around, the air, the architecture, the cafes, the shops, and the “wow” effect of the port. This human scale, a city built around people’s needs over the centuries and shaped by emotional values. I want that.

TLW does that: Bringing emotional value, so that visitors to your malls take home more than they bought.

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