Another example is KidZania, an edutainment concept where children enter a miniature ‘city’ with its own currency and economy. While in the city, kids explore a variety of professional opportunities including flying planes, fighting fires, working in a research lab or even solving a crime.
Exciting and interactive experiences like these can draw in shoppers and families, and serve as accessible, convenient and cost-effective alternatives to more expensive entertainment venues such as theme parks.
Challenges of Constructing Experiences
Based on the success of certain entertainment and immersive concepts, retail owners, developers and tenants are increasingly recognizing and exploring the revenue-generating opportunities of implementing successful experiences.
There are several variables that developers and owners must navigate during the planning process in order to ensure a successful result, including overcoming the constraints of space to deliver an unforgettable experience.
These experiences require high capital costs to develop, so landlords often want these tenants in place and generating revenue quickly. That said, concepts and scope should take time to be developed and evaluated.
For example, the appeal of The VOID can be partially attributed to its top-tier intellectual property themes like Star Wars and Disney. However, not all virtual reality endeavors can secure and afford these big-name partnerships.
In these cases, an alternative element that offers a unique and localized appeal must be identified. Simply offering a generic virtual reality experience is likely not enough to drive sustained traffic. Further, an idea might seem great on paper, but sometimes is simply not the right experience for a particular location.
For example, earlier this year, the NFL Experience in Times Square – a 40,000-square-foot attraction featuring a 4-D roller-coaster theater – announced that it was closing its doors just 10 months after opening due to lackluster attendance.
Despite a major intellectual property partnership and a prime location with some of the highest foot traffic in the country, the experience was not a fit for a place where most people passing through are looking for the New York tourist experience and more established destinations.
The key takeaway here is clear: without performing a comprehensive evaluation of local demographics, economics and consumer demand, a wonderful idea might not survive the execution.
Devising a Pathway to Success
A deliberate process is necessary when approaching the incorporation of experiential retailers into new or existing retail developments. These experiences must meet the real estate reality of being developed in height-constrained and capacity-constrained areas. Expectations must be realistic — for example, it is not possible to recreate Hogwarts in a mall.
Additionally, stakeholders must determine how to strategically combat or work within the high peaks and low periods that retail centers experience on a daily, weekly, and seasonal basis. For instance, in addition to attracting families on the weekend, KidZania’s educational components attract school groups during the week to help offset slower times.