Oxford Properties has launched a unique initiative across its retail centres in Canada to capture a rising consumer group – tourists visiting the country.
The real estate investment, management and development company recently appointed Lesley Boughen to a newly created National Senior Manager of Tourism role to enhance the profile of its retail properties with this important consumer group.
In her new role, Boughen will identify new tourism targets to drive traffic and exposure to Oxford Properties shopping centres. Her other responsibilities will include aligning tourism memberships and partnerships under Oxford’s retail portfolio to augment memberships, expanding China Ready programs, identifying new global markets to expand the tourism program, implementing new translation support technology with guest services and digital marketing, and establishing global relationships.
“Inbound Canadian tourism is reaching unprecedented levels, year over year. So with that in mind this role was created in recognition of the economic impact of inbound tourism and specific to the retail sector,” said Boughen.
“The position essentially was designed also to enhance the profile of Oxford’s retail properties to the important tourist consumer. We recognize that for many long-haul international markets shopping is a key activity that they’re participating in when they come to Canada. So my role will really be in a position to connect with those tourist consumers when they visit Canada.”
Boughen said what’s really important to remember is that tourism is not a one-size fits all approach. In her previous role as tourism manager for two of Oxford’s premier shopping centres, Square One and Yorkdale, she gained valuable experience in reaching that tourist retail shopper through specialized programs and working with retailers.
“Given the scale of Oxford’s properties, we’re taking that knowledge from those two shopping centres and applying it across other centres in Canada,” said Boughen.
Oxford has 10 retail centres in Canada based in Ontario, Alberta and Quebec.
According to the upcoming Retail Council of Canada’s Shopping Centre Study for 2019, Yorkdale in Toronto is the most productive mall in Canada with $1,964 sales per square foot annually. Square One in Mississauga will rank seventh overall at $1,108 sales per square foot.
“Based on some recent stats from Destination Canada in Q1 of 2019, during the first quarter of this year, the top three provinces for the total international visitors’ spend were Ontario, British Columbia and Quebec. So that really puts us in a great position with our key properties as well as in Quebec,” said Boughen.
“And when we look at visitors’ spending, United States spent $1.37 billion in Q1 while the rest of the world combined spent $1.64 billion.”
She said the retail tourism initiative will include identifying new tourism target markets that will drive traffic and exposure to the Oxford shopping centres across the country while continuing to target the existing markets that it has already been targeting.
“This national role is just such a great opportunity. We’ve seen the economic impact of tourism in the retail sector. We now have the ability to integrate that same approach in other Oxford retail properties but on a national level,” added Boughen.
“To my knowledge, this is the only national role of its kind. I do know that other companies have local tourism positions and I actually performed that function at Yorkdale and at Square One previously to taking this role. So now it’s an opportunity to take that approach and bring that same kind of success to all of our properties.
“Part of the role is about leveraging and expanding our relationships within the tourism industry.”