Lifestyle Locations: the Post-Coronavirus Leisure Industry - Beyond Retail Industry

The first edition of our webinar series ‘Experiences for Tomorrow’, forecast recovery in the post-coronavirus leisure idustry. Our first virtual talk welcomed Jonathan Doughty, global head of foodservice, leisure and placemaking, ECE Projektmanagement , Andreas Waschk, chairman, AWC/Explorado Group and Francesco Pupillo, #LeisurUp show director.

Here are three key takeaways from our experts:

1.       The new normal

The demand for social experiences and social places will still be there but the post-coronavirus leisure industry will learn to match it with an increasing demand for safety and health from the consumer that will lead to some new long-term measures and regulations to develop safer environments in the face of the coronavirus pandemic.

Jonathan Doughty, global head of foodservice, leisure and placemaking, ECE Projektmanagement said that [at the time of the webinar, as Germany had just started to re-open]that “quite reasonable levels of footfall” had been achieved across its shopping centres.

He added of the situation: “It’s very dynamic, we have learnt from home living that there is a demand for out of home experiences, but we have to keep them safe and controlled.”

Andreas Waschk, chairman, AWC/Explorado Group, added that the group had set up a “crisis board” immediately upon the closing of venues, with the management team based at home, first to handle the close down and then to examine the path to re-opening.

2.       Culture and Edutainment

Culture and edutainment will be among the most impactful solutions to develop and generate new experiences and places to reshape the future of the post-coronavirus leisure industry, due to the growing importance that parents give to educational activities for their children.

Doughty said that one response for the future of the leisure industry in the post-lockdown period will be a shift in the use of space and he said that lifestyle destinations need to think “can I do something else” in a specific location.

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Waschk added that for educational type exhibitions, which are becoming increasingly popular in lifestyle destinations, a deal to host the exhibition needs to be around five years in duration or more to be financially viable. He said that for operators of such leisure attractions, they had to answer the key visitor question: “Do I feel safe in this controlled environment?”

Doughty pointed to the pioneering work done by ECE, the German Council of Shopping Centres, the Swiss Council of Shopping Centres and from authorities in Dubai as leading the route forwards on understanding the impact of the coronavirus on the leisure market and the retail market. However, he noted that there is no unifying body to bring retail, leisure, hotels and airports, plus other similar business together to create common standards.

3.       Towards a new business model

From pop-ups to long term solutions, leisure industry players and landlords will have to find the way to reshape some industry fundamentals, developing more flexible ways to collaborate and to adapt to the new era.

However, Doughty reflected that there would undoubtedly be casualties while investors and property companies attempted to redefine their locations and the complementary leisure industry. “This period will kill a lot of businesses,” he said of the impact of coronavirus on lifestyle destinations.

“But at the same time there is a lot of money out there looking for better returns in a time of very low interest rates. The period we have been through and will go through is relatively short in the lifetime of a retail property.”


For retail and leisure operators the major new stage of the pandemic and its impact on the leisure industry is to rethink what they are doing, how they are doing it and whether, as Waschk said, there is a “clear vision” the venue has determined “what and for whom we are doing this”. He said the role is to “manage requirements but maintain the experience in a viable manner”.

And while Doughty anticipates that not all property companies and lifestyle destinations will survive the crisis, he remained hopeful that as a relatively short duration in the long-term future of lifestyle destinations, that most operators would find a way forward.

To register to our next sessions or to watch the other previous episodes please visit


PHOTO CREDIT: Nevena1987, Getty Images. 

About Author

Mark Faithfull is Editor of the MAPIC Preview and News Magazines, as well as Editor of online publication and analysis specialist Retail Property Analyst.

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