Five Key Insights from our Behind-the-Scenes Tour of The Picadilly Lights

Last week, Ben, our Growth & Performance Manager, and Tom, our Account Director, travelled to London for an exclusive behind-the-scenes tour of the iconic Piccadilly Lights and the “island site” it sits within. 

The event, organised by the Leisure Property Forum, provided valuable insights into the world of commercial leasing, tenant selection, and experiential marketing. Here are their top takeaways:

1. Tenant Selection: Quality Over Quantity

It’s not always about securing the highest-paying tenant; it’s about finding the right tenant that aligns with your overarching vision and goals. This approach not only creates a “buzz” but also attracts a larger audience. A prime example is The Devonshire pub. Formerly a restaurant, the unit was recently converted back to its pub roots. Since then, The Devonshire has become one of London’s hottest hangouts, frequented by celebrities like Ed Sheeran and Jon Bon Jovi. The pub was bustling with people and energy during the tour, underscoring the importance of strategic tenant selection in driving footfall and creating vibrant community spaces that can benefit the wider site. 

2. Emphasising Experiential Engagement

Amid the current cost-of-living crisis, people are more discerning about how they spend their hard-earned cash. They seek experiences that offer more than just a meal or a product – they want to immerse themselves in memorable activities and atmospheres that provide a brief escape from reality. James Bulmer, Founder and Chief Creative Officer at Wonderland Restaurants, spoke about the power of “experiential hospitality” during a sneak peek of his new Alice in Wonderland-themed restaurant, due to open this Autumn. This concept encourages looking beyond traditional industry boundaries for inspiration, ultimately creating unique and engaging places that resonate with customers and create those “Instagrammable moments”.

3. Showcasing Your Team

According to James, chefs and staff don’t want to be confined to dark, dingy kitchens or back rooms. Instead, he urged restaurants to bring them into the light and make them “part of the show”. This concept can be applied beyond kitchens to leisure and retail destinations. Shop floor workers shouldn’t be kept in the shadows; they should be the faces of our stores and sites. By showcasing these “hidden heroes” through social media, blogs, and media activities, we can add personality and appeal to our places, ultimately enriching the customer experience and fostering loyal and engaged customer bases. 

4. Innovative Thinking

In a world where everything is vying for your customers’ attention, thinking outside the (tool)box is essential! Next to the Piccadilly Lights, a unit that might typically house a retail or leisure offering has been transformed into a Williams Racing Formula 1 experience. Tied in with the 2024 British Grand Prix, this unique attraction featured meet and greets with racing academy driver Zak O’Sullivan and 2009 Formula 1 World Champion Jenson Button. The star power and novelty of this experience drew large crowds, demonstrating the impact of using spaces in innovative and non-traditional ways to attract and engage new audiences. 

5. Cutting-Edge Advertising Technology

The Piccadilly Lights generate between £20 to £30 million annually, highlighting the immense advertising potential of this famous location. Now with deep fake technology, the Lights can display astonishingly realistic adverts that literally jump out of the screen! This not only captivates viewers but also emphasises the importance of embracing cutting-edge technology to stay ahead in competitive landscapes, such as advertising and placemaking. 


The trip to London’s Piccadilly Lights provided Ben and Tom with valuable insights and perspectives on creating dynamic, engaging, and profitable commercial spaces. By focusing on the right tenant mix, developing experiential environments, showcasing staff, thinking innovatively, and leveraging advanced technology, businesses can create vibrant destinations that attract customers and keep them coming back for more.

If you’d like to discuss putting these tips into action to drive people to your places, drop us a line via 

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