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Melanie Leech, British Property Federation

Melanie Leech, British Property Federation

What role does experience-making have to play in the property industry?

It’s becoming more and more important. There is a sea-change happening across the industry led by many examples of good practice. I have just been at the Estates Gazette Awards where I could see a more customer-centric approach. It was clear there was an increasing emphasis on people, places and experiences when, a few years ago, it would have been more about assets and economic returns. Now, property companies want to promote their increasingly people- and customer-focused approach.

 What is the favourite experience you have been a part of making?

I think it was working with government and the Arts Council on the refurbishment of the Royal Opera House and seeing it come to fruition. It was a magnificent combination of renovation and new building which provided the most spectacular setting to showcase the supremely talented dancers and singers. The gala opening night was a perfect example of how delivering a fabulous place can make for a fabulous experience.

Just as important as providing experiences for the actors and the audience was the emphasis on accessibility. There are now open screens in the Piazza so people can watch performances for free and it’s also possible to come in and see certain areas of the building. That vision was more unusual at that time [the late 1990’s] than it would be now. The Opera House, and its refurbishment, was definitely seen as elitist then – and it undoubtedly still is an experience reserved for relatively few – but there was an ambition to make it more accessible to more people and that was achieved.

 What’s the best experience you’ve had, and why?

I think anyone who was lucky enough to attend a part of the 2012 Olympics will treasure those memories but going much further back in my past, the impact of a trip I made with a friend to Jordan when we had finished our finals at university is still fresh in my memory.  Walking through the narrow alleyway that opens out into Petra is a fantastic experience. The feeling of awe from those amazing buildings carved into the rock and the sense of a completely different time, culture and way of life made a huge impact on me.

 What’s the future of experience making?

Our industry is behind the curve compared to many others in terms of technology and digital transformation. We have to address that urgently. If we do, and we can harness that technology, we have the potential to provide even greater experiences for our customers.

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