Creating a magnetic location is not easy.
Consumer expectations are rising as fast as attention spans are declining. New, “grammable” offerings are popping up left, right and centre. Ideas that seemed innovative one week are outdated the next.
The bad news for venues is that attracting and engaging the public will only get more challenging as the world around us evolves.
Over the years we’ve witnessed a shift in the way people engage with hospitality brands and each other. Hospitality brands – who have traditionally relied on a great product range as their main drawcard – are facing massive hurdles. It’s become commonplace for friends, food and entertainment to be accessed through a device more often than in real life. In particular, the rise of food delivery services has shown that no longer is an outstanding menu enough to get customers through the door!
As we begin a new decade, what can hospitality businesses do to create magnetic locations that greatly improve consumer engagement and retention?
One word, five key considerations: Placemaking.
What is placemaking?
Placemaking is a people-centred approach to the planning, design and management of a location. A good placemaking strategy combines local context – architecture, culture and natural surrounds – with consumer insights to transform a space into a lively and inviting destination.
Five steps to build your placemaking strategy.
As with any strategy, research and insights are key and the best answers come from the right questions. To create your placemaking strategy, start by exploring what each of the below points means to your business. We’ve provided prompts to get you thinking.
1: Align to your market
To foster greater interaction between people and place, a human-centric approach is crucial to any new location. This extends beyond our target market to staff, suppliers and the local community.
Ask yourself: What are the values of our target market? What expectations do they have and how can we exceed them? How can we engage the local community and entice them in as contributors? How can local culture tie in with our offering? How can we encourage all stakeholders to promote our values at all times?
2: Value design and architecture
Providing a visually appealing and interactive destination can induce positive emotions, like nostalgia and awe, that in turn become associated with that particular location. While physical design is largely dependent on the offering, there are several considerations that can be made across the board.
Ask yourself: How will our target market use the space? How will we establish an emotional connection? Do we need to provide additional facilities for children or pets? How will weather conditions impact our venue? How can we introduce colour and sound to create the desired ambiance?
3: Protect the planet
The future is sustainable and brands that don’t adopt environmentally friendly practices will be left in the 2010s. Innovative technologies, organic foods and waste minimisation must always be at the forefront of your mind.
Ask yourself: How can we build with natural resources that don’t cause any harm to our planet? What can we substitute for single use products? Can we grow any produce on-site? Can we produce our own green energy? How can we cut down on waste or reuse any waste generated?
4: Create a quality offering
Your menu has the potential to make or break someone’s experience with your brand. The selection of dishes and beverages should be cohesive, tell a story and accurately reflect your ethos.
Ask yourself: What innovative food and beverage menu can we offer to deliver a wow factor? What is the appropriate service level? How will we cater to emerging dietary requirements? How can the pre- and post-visit touchpoints amplify the experience? Where can we source produce from in a way that aligns to our core values?
4: Curate the space
The final piece of the puzzle is bringing your venue to life through a curated schedule of events. Each should bring a range of benefits to visitors whether revolving around unique food, engaging activations or excellent photo opportunities.
Ask yourself: How will we program our location to ensure our target market remain engaged? What combination of education, entertainment, exhibitions and activations can we schedule? How can we maximise share-ability amongst peers? How can activations support the local community?
The key take-out: In the 2020s hospitality businesses will need to get crafty to increase visitation and facilitate engagement. When you embrace and explore these placemaking steps, you will reap the benefits of strengthening the connection between people and place.