Value Retail’s group tourism director, Marcelo Molinari speaks to TTG about the retail giant’s very latest news, noticeable tourism trends and much more.
TTG: What is Value Retail’s latest news and what do you have planned for the rest of 2017?
So far 2017 has been a busy year for Chic Outlet Shopping! The European Collection of Villages continues to thrive, with activities taking place all year round, providing our guests with unforgettable experiences. With the exciting openings of new boutiques, food pop-ups, art installations and events taking place throughout the year, guests are sure to experience something extraordinary with every visit.
For those travelling to the UK this autumn, a newly expanded Bicester Village, near London, will showcase an additional 30 boutiques with superior guest services – offering unrivalled hospitality and shopping for every guest.
This year has seen the expansion of global partnerships to benefit our Middle Eastern guests, including a new partnership with Dubai Islamic Bank. This is a great addition to our existing partners, which includes Etihad Airlines and Qatar Airways, amongst others.
During the summer months, and as more people from The Middle East travel to Europe, we tailor local campaigns to cater for this audience and their needs to celebrate Eid al-Fitr. We offer optimal hospitality, including exclusive access to VIP Lounges, superior food offerings incorporating traditional local touches and enhanced halal menus, additional savings on purchases and many more. A number of our Villages have Arabic-speaking personal stylists on hand, to offer expert fashion advice and bespoke styling.
As a business, we are passionate about supporting emerging talent. We are committed to championing bright, young designers from all over the world by elevating their profiles and showcasing their work in our Villages. This summer will see our Villages host pop-ups such as the Creative Spot 2017 in Fidenza Village (near Milan) and The Barcelona Designers Collective at La Roca Village (near Barcelona), which celebrate young talent and give guests the chance to discover pieces they would not find elsewhere.
TTG: What tourism trends has Value Retail picked up on? What do you think is driving these trends and how are you responding?
One of the key trends emerging is ‘retailment’; this refers to a more ‘lifestyle’ approach to retail and the need for destinations to deliver unforgettable experiences, whether they merge shopping with arts, or educational spaces with amazing food and music.
Part of this is also about hospitality; this is something that has always been at the heart and soul of our business. We are constantly looking for ways to evolve our hospitality services. Most recently we hosted 38 Middle Eastern tourism partners in six of our Villages to educate them about our services and to showcase the level of world-class hospitality that we deliver to our guests.
We are highly visible at trade shows like the Arabian Travel Market. We used this as an opportunity to meet with our growing list of partners and tour operators.
Since we are a destination, we try to find the best ways to convey the experience of the Village and all the brands and styles our guests can experience. We partner with style influencers and invite them for extended visits to the Villages where they showcase their favourite looks and convey the experience to their audience; part of this is the unique setting of our Villages, all open-air boulevards.
Most recently, we were thrilled to partner for a second time with Kuwaiti-based husband and wife fashion duo ‘The Hybrids’, to showcase the great brands and unforgettable experiences our Villages offer. Their Instagram pages are brimming with stories and pictures of their visits to La Roca Village (near Barcelona), La Vallée Village (near Paris) and Bicester Village (near London).
TTG: What types of tourist are currently visiting the European Collection of Villages and where are they from?
The Collection of Villages has a winning formula when it comes to attracting guests. Strategically located with easy access from major European gateway cities, our open-air Villages are destinations within themselves, designed to emulate the look and feel of each region.
Guests visit us from all over the world thanks to our carefully curated Villages, which boast international and local appeal. In particular, our Middle Eastern audience comprises guests from Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Qatar.