Offering an “experience” has never been more important. It is no longer enough just to be in the right locations, or even to offer a top product, you need all that and more. You need to deliver something memorable, something different that will live long in the memory (and ideally on Instagram as well). But on the flipside, if you can do all that, there is still huge appetite among consumers to leave the Xbox and Netflix behind and see what you’re doing in the flesh.
A great example of that is Festival of Light, an immersive event which uses exciting and interactive light displays to deliver something truly unique for consumers. For obvious reasons it’s hard to put it into words, but as you can see from the video at the top of this page, Festival of Light creates a sense of real wonder, by combining innovative technology with our innate love of colour, light, and energy.
This is the third year Hammerson has supported Festival of Light, and for the first time the event toured multiple locations – Westquay (Southampton), Bullring & Grand Central (Birmingham), and Dundrum (Dublin).
The results speak for themselves. Over 125,000 visitors are estimated to have flocked to the installations, driving significant increases in footfall at all three destinations, including a 9.8% year-on-year increase at Bullring & Grand Central. That represents thousands of extra customers for the brands at each destination.
But experiences like this do more than just drive footfall, they attract new customers and people who might not regularly visit a destination. For example, while Festival of Light was on at Bullring & Grand Central, 31% of visitors to the centre were new, and the number of consumers coming from beyond the destination’s core catchment rose by 5%. That can only be a good thing for these destinations, and the brands in them.
And as with all our major events, the impact in terms of online reach and content was substantial. At Westquay alone, Festival of Light reached over 1.1m people on social media, and also led to a big rise in the number of consumers using the destination’s app and website.
The challenge of course is to deliver these types of events again and again, and that’s why Hammerson is investing £2m in our events programme this year. Exciting upcoming events include The Maze at Westquay, a 400m extravaganza with a hidden surprise at its centre
It is also essential that you learn from your experiences, and constantly seek to innovate. Festival of Light 2019 was incredible – but next year it will be even better, whether that’s more localised installations, additional partnerships with local food and drink operators, or extra pop-ups. Every successful event sets the bar for next time, and the goal always has to be to raise it higher.
Head of Customer Experience