Will this new strategy change the way they communicate or the channels they communicate with?
Strategically, we have long seen that the mall is not as a collection of shops and service providers operating within four walls. Westend is a 360 degree community space, a place that allows our visitors to spend every day with us. All of our campaigns and developments are designed to build an emotional connection with our target groups rather than rational ones and engage them at home with as many exciting opportunities as possible. Great emphasis is placed on value-based communications, for which we primarily use digital platforms. Compared to the past, online appearances and the use of social media have predominated. In addition, we strive to make key strategic goals as material as possible within the home, i.e. we plan projects that act as a unique communication tool in their own right. Examples include Westend Roof Garden, our community office, workplace, and recently opened sustainability room, ReStore.
Besides software, with what tools can the mall build a community of awareness and quality?
Community can be interpreted in many ways, particularly in the case of Westend, where we are dealing with a very diverse target audience. Our projects listed above – the rooftop garden, the community office and the sustainability room – are perfectly suited to achieving multiple goals simultaneously. As a new meeting place in Budapest since 2020, the roof garden, which operates all summer and since last year in winter, for example, fulfills the role of community building due to its function. To this we add additional values with our software, which we consider important and representative.
We strive to use the large number of achievements that come from our popularity for education or simply to represent good causes. Free programs at the Rooftop Garden include cultural programming – slam poetry, theater and concerts – and sustainability events like Urban Ride, which promotes eco-friendly public transportation, and of course loads of fun with parties and gastronomic festivals.
In addition, we are building the community in the digital space: in 2019, our self-developed application was launched, which offers many useful and convenient features for our visitors. In addition to discount coupons available only here, map navigation or loyalty points collection system, our biggest pride now is the mobile parking unit launched in the spring, with which we can automatically enter and exit the parking lot without waiting, arrange payment Offline, and even environmental protection, as we don’t produce extra rubbish with our parking ticket.
The Westend Community Office opened in 2021 as part of their community endeavour. Why did they choose community building as their goal? Does this have anything to do with the fact that Covid has separated people?
That’s right, we’ve found in our own skin that due to back-to-back quarantines, the framework in the home office is starting to narrow, and everyone has moved away from home a bit, but many of us haven’t had a chance to do that. And in the Westend there was a space, an empty food court, where eating at once was forbidden due to restrictions, so we even had to pack the furniture. In the open office space as a workplace, we initially set up 20 comfortable and secure workstations. From the first day we had regular guests, the place was very popular. The idea even won a special award at the HR Komm Awards as one of the most exciting pandemic subprojects related to HR activities judged to be worth pursuing.
We moved the workstations to the roof garden in the summer, and now we’ve found a new spot for it indoors, so we’ll be waiting for anyone who wants to work in pleasant conditions again in a few weeks.
They strive to build a community in real life, with real software, and in the virtual world at the same time. How different are the target groups from the two?
We see that there is an overlap, one reinforcing the other. What we advertise through the app moves people and they come to ReStore, for example. But if they visit the ReStore first, we encourage them to earn mini apps by earning points, which they can even exchange for planting a tree to help maintain the green. Otherwise, we consciously associate the app with live events or projects, ensuring maximum reach.
Why do they consider it important to take on the task of building a community?
Basically, our decisions are always driven by business goals. Looking at the future of retail, we see that online commerce reaches its peak after a while, and here we come into the picture. While in the long run, many wonder why physical stores exist, I think it is precisely because of the functions of society that malls have a future. Our research on this topic also shows that it will be difficult for traders to penetrate the digital bubbles surrounding consumers, and that organizations like ours will become effective channels for achieving the desired goal.
In addition, of course, in order to maintain the value system enshrined in our strategy, it is necessary to engage an audience that can and wants to get to know us.
“Friendly thinker. Wannabe social media geek. Extreme student. Total troublemaker. Web evangelist. Tv advocate.”