Have you ever been caught up waiting at a shopping mall for someone to meet you? Or killing some time before a meeting? What would you do if you caught site of a business center or drop in coworking space? Would you stop in for 30 minutes or so for a modest fee? Or not?
Today there are virtually no common places that do not have some sort of formal or casual touch down space for business people or anyone who needs to connect and conduct some business. With the life/work lines becoming more blurred than ever, more operators are exploring the concept of creating pared down versions of their centers in shopping areas to capture spontaneous ‘drop in’ business. Regus, of course, continues its march to increase its presence in out of the way places. Their latest effort teams them with British Land, the UK’s number one retail landlord, to provide ‘Regus Express’ business centers within shopping complexes. Currently the program is in a pilot phase, with spaces in three of British Land’s centers, and a plan to roll out the program throughout British Land centers UK-wide.
Is this a smart move for Regus? Will people flock to their express locations for a bit of respite from the hustle and bustle? Or will shoppers still opt for the familiar Starbuck’s or Nero’s where they can sit relatively uninterrupted for the cost of a cup of coffee?
The bigger question might be if it matters at all. Regus regularly makes attention-getting moves, through its Regus Third Place operating arm, opening centers in out-of-the-way places where one wouldn’t expect to see them. Are they filling spaces, or are they simply continuing their march towards proliferating the marketplace with their brand? Or both? One thing is for certain, branding is a huge part of everything Regus does, and smaller independent business center and coworking space operators should take note of their clever moves.
Back to your local shopping mall. You may not opt to pay a fee to sit in a business center, but you will surely notice the name of the provider of that space. And, undoubtedly, you’ll be back to the mall where you will notice it again, and again. At some point you may even drop in and check it out. Perhaps not. But when the center’s name pops up in a Google search, or when you are in the middle of the city and need to stop in and fire off a few emails, you just might opt for a familiar name. That’s good marketing. And with so many shopping centers today dotted with “your business here” ads in attempts to fill empty spaces, this may be an optimum time for operators to step up and build some brand, and quite possibly fill some spaces at the same time.
Let us know what you think about Regus’ latest effort. Will the model be successful? Are you contemplating any innovative (or downright daring) marketing moves for your center to round out the year? Let us know and we’ll share them with our readers.