Monday, October 3, 2016
Shopping is one of the most popular activities business tourists enjoy when they discover a new location. “It’s natural; after all, what better way to discover a host city’s current culture than by shopping along with the locals?” said Marie-Andrée Roy, Supervisor of Customer Service and Tourism Development at Laurier Québec, one of Québec City’s premium shopping destinations.
And shopping centres are more than willing to adapt their services to an ever-growing tourist and bleisure clientele. We discussed with Ms. Roy to glean her tips on how to incorporate shopping into an overall event experience.
Choose a shopping venue that is accessible
Another important aspect to consider is that your shopping destination is accessible and near your event venues. After all, do you need the added logistical headache of organizing hour-long bus trips? “Laurier Québec has partnered with various tourist destinations and hotels in Old Québec and downtown to provide both stops for hop-on hop-off bus tours as well as shuttle services between May and October,” Ms. Roy added. “It simplifies business travellers’ schedules as well as event planners’ programming.”
Negotiate with shopping centres to get rebates
Discuss with your shopping centre representatives about the possibility of getting booklets that feature rebates and coupons at participating retailers. “We offer between 10-15% on purchases made,” said Ms. Roy. Find out if these discounts can be combined with other on-going promotions at the shopping centre or in specific stores. Inquire if a particularly interesting retailer can combine rebates with a personalized shopping tour of its products or specialized in-store presentation.
Don’t forget to ask if the shopping centre has privileges for members of different associations. For example, Laurier Québec has partnered with CAA/AAA to offer visitors additional rebates as they get their shopping fix. “I suggest that event planners meet with local shopping centres to see what type of shopper-friendly services they can provide. With a creative mindset, you never know what tailor-made offers mall managers can provide.”
Plan ahead to take advantage of customizable services
When planned well-ahead of your event, a shopping centre can craft tailor-made services that really go the extra mile for your delegates and accompanying family members. “We offer a wide range of express appointments—say, 5 to 10 minutes with a professional stylist or makeup artist, who can give quick recommendations on what a person should wear, what colours or clothing styles compliment him or her the most, and ways to play up their features.” An added bonus: the express makeup service is free and attendees have no obligation to buy.
Ms. Roy also added that shopping malls, like Laurier Québec, can help to schedule make-overs and hair styling so that event attendees or their accompanying spouses can look their very best during galas or other sophisticated soirées. “When planned in advance, these services can go a long way into helping attendees and their families look their very best when it counts the most,” she said.
Think about how to amuse the kids
Shopping can be a wonderful experience, but as any parent knows, children—and even teens—can get bored easily. “Laurier Québec can help to organize treasure hunts and rallies so that kids and teens learn about Québec and a few words in French—all while tapping into their need socialize. “We can even offer free goodie bags from our retailers to keep them raving about their day,” said Ms. Roy
Incorporate shopping into your overall program
Shopping can not only entice event goers during some much-needed time off but also cater to the needs of family members and children. “While event attendees are busy at a tradeshow or conference, accompanying family members are often looking for things to do. Shopping tends to be on top of the list. What’s more, attendees may have little time to visit an entire city, but just enough to stop off at a local shopping mall for a quick getaway,” Ms. Roy explained.
Do not under-estimate the value of shopping as a much sought-after activity for event goers. “Tradeshow and conference attendees need some downtime—and many prefer subtly melding in with the locals. Shopping is a great way to give them their space while soaking in a host city’s atmosphere,” Ms. Roy concluded.