MANILA -- Megaworld Corp. is set to "reimagine" the al fresco dining spaces in its malls as it adapts to the new normal brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic.
In a recent virtual briefing with the media, Megaworld chief strategy officer Kevin Tan said they will "recreate the entire patio dining experience" in all of their properties starting this Valentine season.
"We're doing creative executions. One of the biggest advantages of Megaworld is that we have a lot of al fresco areas. We're known for al fresco, we're known for nightlife... So what we are doing now is we're transforming and reimagining the concept of al fresco. We're creating sort of a new ambiance to excite our customers," he said.
"We're gonna be coming up with some new designs all throughout the entire summer. And it will really enhance our townships and the dining experience. Everyone now wants to dine outside so we're giving it to them, especially this summer," he added.
When asked by ABS-CBN News to give more details, Tan said they are looking at improvements on lighting and landscaping, as well as semi-covered features and enhancements.
"Later on when we're ready, we'll launch a few features," he said. "These are meant to replicate dining inside, outside. These are meant to feel as comfortable as dining inside the store or restaurant."
Over the past months, Megaworld has made the most out of its townships to accommodate not only its retail partners, but also small businesses, farmers, and fisherfolk.
It has converted some of its open spaces and activity areas in to farmer's markets, and allowed startup brands and retailers to have food trucks and pop-up stores at flexible rental rates.
Last December, Megaworld launched the country's first "float-in cinema" at Venice Grand Canal Mall in Taguig.
"We'd like to leverage on the unique features that we have in our lifestyle malls," Tan said.
According to Tan, Megaworld is also harnessing technology to better serve its customers and retail partners during the pandemic.
Among their initiatives were partnering with contactless payment centers such as GCash, Paymaya, and Lyka; starting Viber communities to give regular updates; and creating a virtual shopping assistant and having products delivered to customers' homes.
Megaworld also came up with the Safety on Track app, which provided a centralized contract tracing system for mallgoers.
"During the lockdown, health declarations [were required] every time you enter the stores. We saw that as very cumbersome so we created a centralized system where you fill it out once and all you do is scan and check in on the stores, and that already fulfills the contact tracing requirements of the government. So it created a very easy way of shopping and going to all these different stores," Tan said.
But perhaps Megaworld's biggest tech-related venture last year was Pick.A.Roo, which Tan described as "an all-in-one, on-demand lifestyle delivery app."
He said this did not only allow their partners to "smoothly migrate to the digital platform," but also made more products accessible to those who prefer to stay at home because of the COVID-19 virus.
To date, Pick.A.Roo has 500 brands in over 30 categories such as food, groceries, hardware, medicine, skin care, toys, and gadgets.
"We service 1,200 branches around Metro Manila. And the thing about our app is we support retailers, we support people that have physical stores and employ people," Tan said.