Victoria Holloway talks last minute preparations for the festive season
Victoria Holloway, marketing and communications director at Queensberry, is responsible for overseeing the marketing strategies at Queensberry’s assets throughout the UK. We spoke to Holloway about the Christmas Marketing strategies at The Metquarter, Liverpool and Kingsway Centre, Newport.
When does the Christmas hype campaign generally start? Do you have a set strategy of what’s going to happen when?
“The Christmas hype in our shopping centres would normally kick off around October/November, with retail outlets themselves starting earlier. In terms of marketing, we start actively pushing a campaign in mid November, so a good 6-8 weeks prior to Christmas.
“At the Kingsway Centre in Newport, Queensberry has boosted the shopping centre and generated an evening economy. As part of this our main Christmas campaign for the centre typically coincides with the City’s Christmas Light Switch, ensuring that customers can stay in the area into the evening.”
Are there any details and plans generally left last minute/closer to the event?
“We try to ensure that Christmas marketing at our centres is not left to the last minute.
“Whilst it is important to have a plan in place, it is also important to work closely with our retailers and local stakeholders to collaborate with their Christmas marketing plans. In order to do this there needs to be a level of flexibility in the marketing strategy, that enables retailers and local stakeholders shifting plans to be incorporated.”
What work are you doing with retailers at this stage to co-ordinate and prepare plans for the Christmas period?
“Queensberry considers engagement and collaboration with retailers as an extremely important aspect of asset management. As a result, we have a co-operative approach to marketing with all our tenants. Our centre management teams will work closely with all the store managers in the led-up to Christmas to incorporate their Christmas marketing into the centres strategy, and vice versa.
“At the Metquarter in particular, we are working closely with a number of the new tenants as a result of the repositioning programme we have carried out.
“It is important we have a collective approach in order to deliver the best results for our customers.”
Are there any additional measures you are getting set up to cope with the increased number of visitors?
“We have to work closely with our tenants on this aspect as many of the stores will accommodate increased footfall by employing seasonal staff. We will take a view on what needs to be implemented but we generally will increase the security hours, and ensure there is additional signage and information on our centres websites.”
What are the most exciting things you have planned for this Christmas period? Do you have a set theme/concept/vision in mind?
“Every centre is different and we tailor our strategy depending on the customers, the retailers and the wider city. Tenants at our shopping centres love the buzz of the Christmas season, and we work to maximise spending and footfall in the most atmospheric and festive way possible, that is tailored to the area.
“The operational team on the ground manage the centre decor and Christmas ‘theme’ for our centres. We ensure that both marketing and operational teams co-ordinate and compliment themes and décor so visitors gain a seamless impression of Christmas in our shopping centres.
“At the Kingsway Centre we’re planning plenty of on-site entertainment and enlivenment to ensure that customers have the best experience whilst at the centre. With online shopping becoming more favoured during these expected busy times it is important to make lasting impressions and give people reasons to re-visit. Kingsway will have a heavy focus on family orientated activities and workshops as these always perform well and draw a crowd. We often get repeat visitors who have become accustomed to the free activities we put on at the centre. As well as the Christmas Grotto, we will be looking to have gingerbread decorating, letter writing to Santa, carol signing, and some Christmas themed shows.
“At The Metquarter in Liverpool the theme is ‘light up your Christmas’ and we will be putting in new lighting and signage, using neon light in a 3D way. We are also looking at a collaboration with Liverpool Art Fair, which the centre has proudly hosted over the summer, showcasing paintings, prints and sculptures by artists from across the region. It showed the importance of engaging and collaborating with local organisations.”
How are the preparations going at this stage in comparison to last year?
“We’re currently ahead on our planning at the Kingsway centre, with final touches set to be in place by the end of the summer holidays.”
And finally, is it too early to be thinking about Christmas 2020?
“No, as we are always looking for new opportunities for future marketing initiatives at our centres.
Especially with the opportunity to explore new centre decor and themes ahead of contract renewals.”
Photo supplied by Fizzco