The View from the Shard is the increasingly popular visitor attraction at the top of London’s newest landmark and the tallest building in Europe: the Shard.
Blooloop spoke to Anna Domingo, who has been marketing director at The View from the Shard since July, bringing a fresh eye and unparalleled expertise to the premium attraction at the top of London’s newest landmark.
Speaking of her appointment, she said, “It is very, very nice to be part of this amazing project… No: not a project – a reality.”
Uniquely qualified, she has over 15 years of experience in international marketing and branding with specialist experience in high-end and landmark properties and destinations, and has worked at both the Empire State Building and at Top of The Rock, the observation platform at the Rockefeller Centre. Internationally renowned for adding value in projects requiring an innovative strategic approach and rendering projects globally comprehensible, she has a unique experience of observation deck launches and directing international marketing and communication strategies.
Empire State Building
Domingo’s career in the highly specialised field of marketing observation platforms began in 2002 when she joined the team at the Empire State Building as marketing director, and began to specialise in the unique business of a high volume attraction that is nevertheless embedded in a building with tenants. She explains, “It’s not like a theme park: it’s unique in our business that we have tenants – other types of business and retail experiences, under the observation deck… At the same time these buildings are the most visible landmarks of the city.
“In New York I was honoured to be at the Empire State Building, and was part of the post-9/11 struggle. There was a lot of re-thinking about how to bring confidence to visitors…There was a lot of fear after 9/11. Gigantic fear. You have no idea…”
Impressively, in the last year that Domingo worked there, the Empire State Building had over 4.7 million visitors.
Top of the Rock
When the Rockefeller Centre’s observation platform attraction, Top of the Rock, was in the planning and development stage, leaders in the field were sought, and Domingo was head-hunted for her expertise and understanding of how the design and delivery of this production journey could be improved, to create a state-of-the-art observation deck.
“…and it was one of those things that you really, really don’t expect in life, because I was happy at the Empire State Building: very happy, with an excellent boss and a good team, but they put on the table the unique opportunity to create a product; to create the journey; the experience – and to launch it. So… I was hired as marketing director at the Rockefeller Centre.”
The Top of the Rock was an impressive achievement, fulfilling all its design goals and surpassing expectation. As she explains, “ THAT created the milestone…I would say that after Top of the Rock all observation decks were a kind of copy-paste of what we did back then. We set a really high standard as the delivery of an attraction experience.”
The focus was not on high-end exclusivity, but rather on “…a pleasant, memorable, timeless experience” – which could target a rich variety of audiences.
“From day 1 we also created a lot of different stories and angles so we weren’t just … an attraction: but … an experience that can be approached from different lifestyles.
“And this is exactly what I’m doing here at the View from the Shard…going a step forward in how an attraction can deliver a state-of-the-art experience with a memorable outcome, not just an item on a tick-list – and I’m so pleased to be part of it.”
The View from The Shard
The Shard, designed by the Italian Master Architect Renzo Piano, is an architecturally ground-breaking building that has redefined the London skyline, and is so stunning that people journey impressive distances just to photograph its outside. And, as Domingo points out, it is, in terms of observation platforms, the highest point in Europe. At a height of up to 800ft (244m), The View from The Shard offers views over London for up to 40 miles: the viewing platforms are almost twice as high as any other vantage point in the city, and the only place where visitors can see the entire city at once.
“Definitely, for London, as a destination, it’s the only place you can have a 360° view. But being in the middle – we are in Zone One–means we are close enough to appreciate the different landmarks; the shape of the river: our views are outstanding.”
Experiences to Enhance
There is access to three different viewing platforms, including 360° views on Level 69 and the open-air floor on Level 72; both with state-of-the-art telescopes. What Domingo is doing is to add experiences to enhance and contextualise the vista – on Saturday mornings at 8.30, for instance, there are yoga sessions on the viewing platform.
On Saturday evenings there are the (almost invariably sold-out) ‘silent discos’: “Silent disco is a really wonderful concept where you enjoy live music from a choice of several fantastic DJs, but wearing headphones. It means there’s no noise… You take your headphones off and you can have a nice conversation with your friends. It’s just really fantastic.”
In September 130 of London's singletons have the chance to travel to floor 72 of The Shard for a night of entertainment from Sofar Sounds, Toby Brother’s Literary Salon, the Royal Observatory as well as food from Pizza Pilgrims and an all-night bar. This is followed by camping out in sleeping bags under the stars with a 360° view of the beautiful city itself. In the morning breakfast will be provided by Oliviers while the sun rises over London.
“We also just recently launched The Highest Picnic in London, with Fortnum and Mason, at The Shard, which is a wonderful partnership. You will hear more about it, because both parties were very pleased with the outcomes. We have other things coming up in the future that we will be releasing shortly. For example, you’ll see us in the news a month from now, with a very special action going on – with Dynamo the magician. So stay tuned – it’s an excellent PR activity. That will be on TV –Dynamo’s Magician Impossible show.”
[Dynamo will be, among other stunts, appearing to levitate over The Shard. Sharp-eyed Londoners spotted him rehearsing, and it caused something of a Twitter-storm.]
Domingo adds, “It’s a very romantic place, and we have people proposing here in the building. It’s a breath-taking place for that special moment. So – we’re very pleased. We have an extremely creative team thinking out of the box about these experiences and targeting different audiences and different times of the day and whoever may come – domestic visitors and international visitors.”
Surprising in a Stylish Way
“And then, ” Domingo says, “another ongoing job is working out how to surprise – in a very stylish way – our clients. And ‘stylish’ doesn’t necessarily mean super-expensive, though, of course, we do have expensive things going on. We will release a few pieces of news about some things targeting upscale markets shortly, and of course you can obviously hire our venues for corporate or private events, and those are the ones that are really high-end."
Having led teams at both the Empire State Building and the Rockefeller Centre’s Top of the Rock, it seemed unlikely that The View from The Shard had faced Domingo with any particular challenges. Nevertheless, she says:
“If I could mention the particular challenges of working at The Shard, for me… Before joining and coming from New York to London I was like – oh, my God: the weather. It’s London – the weather is terrible.
"But I got here, and the first thing I noticed is the weather is pretty much similar to New York weather. It’s Atlantic weather – it changes a lot – it’s what you call dynamic weather. And the beautiful thing about dynamic weather is that from the view perspective it’s much more interesting. You can go up to the observation deck and you can have clouds and then sunny and then storm coming and then the thunder hitting and making the clouds look beautiful colours. So on social media – on Instagram, for example – it’s just crazy because our pictures are so interesting. The changing weather is, I think, beneficial. As a photographer you have this type of light hitting this cloud and then five minutes later it’s different it. It’s fantastic.”
The Next Step
“In the UK the brand is well recognised, and the team launching has been doing a wonderful job, but now we need to focus on raising international awareness. We are already working with the German and French markets and we’re seeing amazing results, and our focus for 2015 is a series of consumer actions to engage top packages visiting London.”
Where next? Domingo has plans for taking brand recognition beyond Europe:
“We see good numbers, as well, coming from Australia. In Asia awareness is slowly and gradually growing and growing, so our focus will be to keep working on the European market which is doing really well: France and Germany; Italy and Spain; as well as the USA, Australia and China.”
Images of The Shard: © The View from The Shard