Free marketing tips and services for leisure and tourism organisations

Marketing shopping centres:

A key feature of leisure and tourism in the UK is the contribution made by trips made for the purpose of shopping. It is by far the main reason for domestic day trips and an important element of the staying visitor economy. Currently one third of tourism spending is on retail items and unsurprisingly many high street, out-of-town and designer outlet shopping centres have developed marketing strategies to attract high spending tourists.

People on holiday are less likely to shop online so their relative importance is increasing. This 'tourist' contribution to till receipts remains below the radar for many centres and is yet to be highlighted by industry bodies or consultants such as Mary Portas. With domestic retail spends flatlining, it is more critical than ever that shopping centre marketers acknowledge and aggressively target this audience.

 Top ten must-do's when marketing shopping centres:

  • Be distinctive and draw upon your location's most positive assets and broader tourism appeal  
  • Sort out who your core customers are and don't try to be all things to all people
  • Develop branding & communications in line with the benefits sought by your core customers
  • Deliver for your retailers an agreed timed, costed annual marketing plan & events programme
  • Integrate your marketing and PR activity with the seasonal campaigns of your main retailers
  • Maximise the value of wider destination marketing via active engagement with your local DMO* 
  • Run medium to heavy-weight 60minute drive-time advertising campaigns for key periods     
  • Build a segmented database of core customers enabling personalised communication
  • Track customer behavior, satisfaction and spending patterns to guide operational development
  • Establish key performance indicators to measure marketing effectiveness and ROI**     


 Ten top tips for attracting more customers to shopping centres:

  1. Use  QR codes on centre posters, banners, store guides and signage to flag up special offers, news and navigation
  2. Increase coach and group business by packaging and promoting day trips with local attractions
  3. Offer free meals and discounts to business generating coach drivers and group organisers  
  4. Stage seasonal public 'X Factor'-style auditions to build a roster of good quality buskers and generate local PR
  5. Set up and consult regularly with different small groups of 5-6 customers each who represent your core visitor segments
  6. Agree with retailers a shared strategy for customer relationship marketing to avoid message overload
  7. Expand the Centre's customer database on the back of advertising call-to-actions and media competitions
  8. Limit the content in your email and mobile communications to one primary and three secondary messages
  9. Encourage the sale of distinctive local products, particularly arts & crafts and food and drink     
  10. Offer space to local arts organisations in return for high quality entertainment and the decoration of unlet retail units  
If you would like further advice and support for attracting more visitors, please contact:

*Destination Management Organisation (local tourist board)
**Return on investment