We’re in the midst of a revolution. Isn’t it fantastic!
I am delighted to start 2017 as President of Revo at this pivotal time for the organisation and the whole retail property and place making community we represent.
We are experiencing tumultuous times not least because of the fast changing and rather startling political landscape.
But we are also facing a massive revolution which is changing the way we go about our day to day lives.
Last year I listened to a Radio 4 programme called Standing up to the Sharing Economy which really brought home to me the extent of change that we are facing.
We are moving into an age where less people will want to own things and at the same time they want to have unique experiences that are constantly evolving and adapting.
Technology plays a key role in developing the sharing economy but the physical place will also play a large part. Our industry needs to recognise the need to adapt its products to reflect changes in these areas.
Homes - too expensive for many, people are more transient and do not want the commitment of owning, hence rise of PRS particularly in city and town centres close to work and other activities.
Hotels - people prefer to stay in homes, where they can get a special unique experience rather than faceless hotels, hence the rise of Airbnb. Hotel providers are adapting product to create more unique experiences for customers.
Cars/Bikes – people would rather borrow/share cars and avoid costs of ownership, parking, insurance etc., hence the rise of Uber, car clubs, Boris bikes. Car manufacturers are investing in new technology aimed at providing a service of how to get people from A to B (rather than sell someone a car). Driverless cars are coming. All this will reduce demand for parking, and road space, thus freeing up land for alternative uses and open spaces, thus transforming our cities and towns.
Clothes sharing - in early phase but people are attracted to idea of not investing in owning clothes but renting/borrowing items for special occasions. Retailers can adapt to create places where people can borrow and test product.
Music sharing – streaming and buying – people still want to buy and own, hence resurgence of LPs bought from physical shops
Space requirements – despite technology people still want interaction with others and need places to meet and share ideas, hence the need for multi-use spaces which offer unique, bespoke and ever evolving experiences often based around retail, leisure, learning and F&B offers.
A key message for our industry is that we have to recognise fast changing customer behaviours and requirements.
Successful places will be flexible and adaptable and provide what the customer wants, whether that is a millennial who still wants the social experience of going out, or the older consumers who want safe, accessible places with adequate seating, as well as user friendly gathering places.
2017 is a pivotal year for Revo and over the next 12 months we will be at the forefront of predicting, identifying and tracking the changes and trends affecting our whole community to the benefit of the places we create and the experiences we deliver.
In other words, we’ll keep the plates spinning. Something I relish on the personal front and which probably resonates with you. Nowadays, it’s all about juggling those priorities: either on the home front, office front and Revo front yet still trying to eke out a little ‘me time’. Whilst it’s all a bit manic, secretly I love it, but don’t tell anyone.
Planning Director, GL Hearn Limited