The word retailtainment combines two words: retail and entertainment. From visiting VR exhibits in Asian tech hubs to touring 19th-century shopping centres in France, many world destinations are embracing this trend.
Why is retail tourism important?
According to 2019 data, retail tourism accounted for 6% of Travel & Tourism's GDP. This is true post-pandemic as well. “Retail tourism is no longer just about buying souvenirs; it's a driving force behind the recovery of the Travel & Tourism sector,” said Julia Simpson, WTTC CEO and president.
To curate retail experiences intertwined with the local culture, check out our Booking Engine with 16,000+ experiences — choose between Dubai’s luxury malls, Seoul’s beauty haven, New York’s iconic Fifth Avenue, and more. With the right destination, you can offer:
Enhanced shopping experiences: From visits to shopping streets to personal stylist appointments, shopping can be the highlight of the trip.
Cultural immersion: In many destinations, travellers can learn about the local culture through shopping. For example, visiting a beauty bar in South Korea can help understand the country’s beauty traditions.
More travel activities: From shopping festivals to creative workshops, retail tourism unlocks new travel activities.
Top destinations for retail tourism
Here are the 7 best destinations for shopping, all presenting their own unique retail experiences.
1. For beauty and skincare: Seoul, South Korea
With the rise of K-beauty and K-dramas, South Korea’s beauty industry is under the spotlight. Olive Young, known as the Korean Sephora, has over 1,000 stores in the country. Its Myeongdong Flagship Store in particular is set to be a part of tourists’ Seoul itinerary. In 2023, the store reported an 840% growth in non-Korean customer sales and expanded its online store to shoppers from 150 different countries. Visitors enjoy the variety of products, the store’s layout and design, and foreign language options — the staff speaks English, Japanese, and Chinese, besides Korean.
A beauty hack used by Korean politicians and CEOs, Personal Colour Analysis is gaining popularity among tourists. This trend includes working with a consultant to find out about the right colours that fit a person’s facial features and skin tone. Consider booking a Personal Colour Analysis for your clients first, so they know what colours to look for in beauty stores.
2. For luxury shopping: Dubai, United Arab Emirates
From rooftop bars to opera centres, luxury brands to in-mall chauffeur services, Dubai’s malls are where luxury shopping and entertainment meet. With over 90 malls all with their own charm, the city’s options seem endless.
Dubai Shopping Festival takes place every year between December and January. In 2023, the festival hosted 45 live concerts from celebrities like Sting and Sean Paul. Visitors got a sneak peek of upcoming launches by worldwide brands, including Rihanna’s Fenty Beauty, which offered product testers. With entertainment came deals, discounts, and prizes, exclusive to participants. The Dubai Shopping Festival will start on 13 December this year, and continue until 19 January, just in time for a New Year’s Eve holiday.
3. For Instagrammable malls: Bangkok, Thailand
Bangkok is picturesque all around — street markets for the outdoors, Instagrammable malls for the indoors. In Terminal 21 Mall, there is inspiration from eight destinations: the Caribbean, Rome, Paris, Tokyo, London, Istanbul, San Francisco, and Hollywood. On each of its floors, you’ll find decorations from one of these places.
The Ratchaprasong area is where art, shopping, and panoramic views meet. Gaysorn Village, a mall in the area, features Thai designer brands and curated art shows. One minute from Gaysorn Village is the famous pedestrian bridge, Ratchaprasong SkyWalk. Crossing the bridge exposes elevated Bangkok views, another Instagram-worthy scene. It also connects to other shopping centres, CentralWorld and Erawan Bangkok.
Culture-lovers will also appreciate the sights and sounds of Bangkok's Damnoen Saduak Floating Markets, for a quieter but no-less Instagrammable experience of some of the best local produce and an intimate look at every day life - bookable through our Booking Engine!
4. For the best flagship stores: New York City, United States
Stretching 10 km from Washington Square Park in Greenwich Village, Fifth Avenue is one of the most iconic shopping streets in New York City.
Book a table at The Blue Box Café by Daniel Boulud, located inside The Landmark, Tiffany’s flagship store on Fifth Avenue. Boulud is a Michelin-starred chef originally from France, now residing in New York. He has won many awards, including the “World's Best Restaurateur.” Besides the classic “Breakfast at Tiffany’s,” he also offers Afternoon Tea, an à la carte selection, and dining options at The Blue Box Café.
Nike’s House of Innovation provides some of the best brand experiences, including showrooms, customised trainers, and in-house experts giving style advice. Macy's Herald Square is another NYC classic with a world-class customer experience. You can book Macy’s history tours, enjoy fine dining in the store, or get advice from a personal stylist for free.
5. For art and fashion: Paris
With its glass Coupole rising 43 metres high up, Galeries Lafayette is an iconic Art-Nouveau building as well as a historic shopping centre in Paris. Today, it hosts well-known French brands including Chanel, Christian Dior, Guerlain, and more.
Visitors can learn more about the 19th-century building by booking a guided heritage tour. To make the experience even more unforgettable, book the Parisian Shopping Experience, in which Galeries Lafayette experts take visitors shopping and give fashion advice. Alternatively, there is the Macaron Bakery Class, a group bakery class to learn how to make macarons. To end the day, go up to the 8th floor of Galeries Lafayette — the terrace overlooks the whole city of Paris, with views of Opéra Garnier, the Eiffel Tower, Sacré Cœur, and Notre Dame.
The Golden Triangle between Avenue des Champs-Élysées, Avenue Montaigne, and Avenue George V is a shopping classic for high-end brands like Louis Vuitton and Yves Saint Laurent. For concept stores, suggest Le Marais neighbourhood, which is home to Merci and other department stores. End the day in one of Merci’s cafés, Le Used Book Café or Le Café de Non Merci, and people-watch like a true Parisian.
6. For a hint of Hollywood glamour: Los Angeles
Jewellery, local boutiques, and world-famous brands: welcome to the Hollywood glamour of Los Angeles.
Check out the Beverly Wilshire Hotel’s Pretty Woman for a Day Package — it’s the very hotel in the 1991 film “Pretty Woman.” With this package, your clients will get a VIP shopping experience. It includes a round trip with a Mercedes Sedan, visits to the backstages of Rodeo Drive boutiques, and fashion advice from a personal stylist.
To complete the Pretty Woman experience, check out Jewelry District, home to some of the best jewellery in the world. Consider booking a luxury tour — Jewelry District tours include visiting showrooms, meeting designers, and going to private exhibitions.
7. For high-tech meets kawaii: Tokyo
In Japan, there is one vending machine per 30 people, selling everything from ramen to burgers. The Japanese capital Tokyo appeals to many kinds of shoppers, including budget travellers, tech enthusiasts, and Japanese culture lovers.
Located in the shopping district of Harajuku, Galaxy Harajuku hosts Samsung Galaxy’s brand exhibitions. By showing their Samsung smartphones, visitors can access virtual reality exhibitions, photo booths, and lounges with the latest Galaxy technologies. The district has all types of malls, from the mirror glass-covered kaleidoscopic entrance of Tokyu Plaza Omotesando Harajuku Shopping Mall to the cute shops in Laforet Mall. A short walk away from the mall is Takeshita Street, full of brightly-coloured shops, offering photo and shopping opportunities in Japanese kawaii fashion.
Let your clients know of the Japan Shopping Festival, where over 500 participating brands give out exclusive promotions and discounts. There are also cultural activities as a part of the festival, such as rice ball making classes or earring and piercing workshops.
Have you seen somewhere travellers would like? Register with Hotelbeds today to offer travellers different types of retailtainment experiences, no matter if they're a luxury shopper, culture-lovers or deal-seekers.
Have you seen somewhere travellers would like? Log in to your Hotelbeds account now to offer travellers different types of retailtainment experiences, no matter if they're a luxury shopper, culture-lovers or deal-seekers.