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Mario Schwann, General Manager of Designer Outlet Parndorf /// credit: DANIEL BOINTNER
Mario Schwann, General Manager of Designer Outlet Parndorf /// credit: DANIEL BOINTNER


After a record year in 2023, Designer Outlet Parndorf hopes to build on its 2019 figures in terms of international tourism this year. ACROSS spoke to Mario Schwann, General Manager of Designer Outlet Parndorf, about the return of international tourists, the potential of visitors from Southern Asia and Middle East, and the importance of cooperation, among other things.

ACROSS: Designer Outlet Parndorf had a record year in 2023. How was the start of 2024 for you?

MARIO SCHWANN: We had a sensational start into the new year. In January and February, we recorded footfall numbers on weekends and sometimes during the week, which we had only seen at events such as late-night shopping. Our sales are up by double digits compared to 2023. We have a daily footfall of 30,000 visitors and more this year – something we had never experienced in a first quarter before. Parndorf expanded its three locational advantages further – its proximity to Vienna and its neighboring countries and a significant increase in tourism flows. In terms of international tourism, we expect to return to the 2019 level in the current year. The 2019 figures are still critical reference figures for us. In comparison, we were at 76% in 2023, but the trend is increasing significantly.

ACROSS: In which segments are sales currently particularly good?

SCHWANN: We see great sales across all sectors – from sports and outdoor to luxury. Our investments and space optimization in the food service sector are also paying off. This applies to the food truck area and the new openings from 2023, such as Le Burger. The expanded range has been very well received and has increased the length of stay.

ACROSS: Which tourist visitor group is currently the most important?

SCHWANN: Austrian tourism is vital to us. When we look at the license plates in the parking lots, we see that our national advertising campaigns are very effective and that Parndorf is on the agenda when people visit Vienna. We also actively advertise in Eastern Europe and follow a marketing calendar. We address visitors in their local languages on the radio, social media, and with local influencers. Furthermore, we launched our campaigns in six countries, including Austria. Tourism is increasingly linked to shopping. Winter tourism is essential for us in Parndorf, as we are on the transit route to the ski resorts. Our tax-free sales give us a picture of how international tourism is developing. We are making excellent progress here. Before the pandemic, McArthurGlen had already strengthened its tourist locations and emphasized group and individual tourism. The current figures indicate that we are right to continue with this strategy.

ACROSS: Who do you work with in terms of advertising?

SCHWANN: We work with different agencies for different countries. In some countries, we also work with the Austrian National Tourist Office. This is a great added value, especially when we want to enter a new market, as the office’s experts know the markets inside out and advise us in the best possible way. Our center also cooperates with the Austrian National Tourist Office to offer special intercultural training programs. Customers from Eastern Europe, Asian customers, or visitors from the Middle East – each group has different behaviors, and we teach these to our employees.

ACROSS: Which brands and segments are particularly relevant for tourists?

SCHWANN: We have indeed seen a shift here recently. The luxury segment is still crucial for international customers. However, sports and mainstream are also becoming increasingly important for tourist customers.

ACROSS: We talked about the tourism from the far east coming back step by step – Vienna as a tourist destination also sees a lot of tourists from USA, how do you think about this market?

SCHWANN: The USA is a fascinating market. McArthurGlen has no representative offices in the USA as we do for example in India, Dubai, China or SE Asia, where our employees actively work to get our outlets onto travel routes. However, we are increasingly active at trade fairs and tourism events in the USA and present our European locations. Our group is seeing rising sales from visitors from the USA, particularly at the Italian centers. We have yet to reach that stage in Parndorf. Vienna has become more popular with guests from the USA, which also offers us opportunities – and we are in close contact with the relevant associations.

ACROSS: Apart from the right approach, what are the things that are important for international tourists?

SCHWANN: Partnerships are vital, especially when it comes to tourism. It is crucial that customers can consume according to their habits. Alipay, for example, is a partner of McArthurGlen. This allows Chinese customers to pay the way they are used to, and we can use the data to create better customer profiles. In addition, cooperation with international agencies is crucial for improving the location’s popularity and learning more about our customer groups. We are in close contact with embassies, the UN, and the Cercle Diplomatique and regularly bring representatives to the center.

ACROSS: What about collaborations at the regional level?

SCHWANN: July and August, the main vacation months, are the strongest sales months for us, alongside the pre-Christmas period. This is when tourists spend their vacations in Burgenland, Austria’s easternmost province, and combine them with a visit to Parndorf. Cooperation with the regional tourist offices is therefore essential. In 2023, we opened the myburgenland shop in the center. The regional products are well received, which is an important sign that we, as a center, are anchored in this region. The same naturally applies to our relationships with Vienna. Together with Austrian Leading Sights, we are represented at trade fairs such as the International Tourism Fair (ITB).

ACROSS: How should visitors or tourists ideally perceive their visit to the Parndorf outlet center?

SCHWANN: International tourists, in particular, are often very busy on their travels. Our approach is to allow visitors to relax a little. It is crucial to create a shopping experience that slows things down. That’s why we work hard to address customers individually and provide them opportunities to retreat. Quiet zones where visitors can sit down and put their shopping away, as well as restaurants and leisure facilities such as our Ferris wheel, play a significant role here. Alternatives to shopping are essential. These relax customers and increase the length of their stay.

ACROSS: What role do opening hours play for tourism in particular?

SCHWANN: Opening hours are always an important issue, especially for tourism. Austrian opening hours are incomprehensible to international visitors, as they are often used to being able to shop day and night. On vacation, tourists don’t differentiate between the days of the week anyway. But this is regulated by law in Austria. There is no doubt that retail in a tourist stronghold like Vienna and in the ski resorts, and, of course, our center would benefit from more relaxed opening hours. Nevertheless, we try to exploit our potential through special events. For example, we regularly organize shopping weeks during which we are open from 9 in the morning until 9 in the evening. Our brand partners usually offer additional discounts during these times, and these event weeks are very popular with visitors.

ACROSS: Tourism is closely linked to the hotel industry. Are there any expansion plans in Parndorf in this regard?

SCHWANN: We are closely connected with the entire hotel industry, from Burgenland to Vienna. The hotel industry plays a vital role for us. There are two hotels at the location itself that are very well booked throughout the year. As we live with and from each other, we are in close contact and, as observers, see a lot of potential to increase the number of beds. However, we are not involved in the hotel business. Nevertheless, shopping, tourism, and the hotel industry belong together. At the end of 2023, for example, the tourism department of Málaga City Hall launched the “Enjoy Winter in Málaga” campaign with the Tourist Office of Spain in Vienna. As an Austrian tourism magnet, we were involved in this campaign, which was communicated locally via digital screens, flyers, and personal customer contacts. We are also trying to draw attention to our center within our locations. We are very well networked in this area and use the potential that tourism can offer.

Mario Schwann

Mario Schwann is the General Manager of Designer Outlet Parndorf


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