teamLab Shanghai Insights

  • Mandating mobile ticketing allows attractions to control visitor flow and share health protocols ahead of time.
  • It’s expanded promotion reach by live streaming pop concerts, encouraging Chinese influencers to post visits to social media, and partnering with local hotels.

teamLab is enduring an inauspicious start to life in Shanghai. When the immersive art space opened in late 2019, it seemed ideally suited to capture the imaginations of China’s experience-focused art-lennials, instead the Japanese multimedia collective, which has warped minds from Madrid to Melbourne with an orgy of lanterns, infinity mirrors, and smart screens, was forced to dim the lights.

The reopening strategies it’s employed since April, however, offer lessons for attractions globally. Most basically, make ticketing digital. Mobile booking allows teamLab to control visitor flow through timed entries and eliminate the unhygienic aspects of physical tickets. As visitors book online, they click through teamLab’s health measures — face masks are mandated, temperature checks are performed on the door, and one meter distancing is enforced — which offers further assurance. With attractions transitioning through a new phase, the goal must be to create end-to-end touchless experiences, from automatic doors to audio resources available on people’s devices, and mobile ticketing is an excellent starting point.

Beyond creating transparent health protocols, teamLab Shanghai has increased its promotion efforts, in addition to its basic engagements across Chinese social media channels. It partnered with skincare brand Shiseido to host an online concert on June 15. Backdropped by teamLab’s giant kaleidoscopic screens, local bands and pop stars were live streamed with the appearance of singer Ayanga drawing 140,000 views on Weibo.

This broad-based, ostentatious promotion style has been complemented by teamLab’s more targeted local strategy. It’s offering VIP access and ticket discounts to Chinese micro-influencers who live stream for an extended period of time inside the venue. Incentivizing visitors to post their visits to social media holds particular resonance at a moment in which audiences are both anxious and overwhelmed with choice — positive information from within social networks holds greater weight than ever.   


Attractions have been sluggish to accept online bookings, receiving 25 percent of bookings digitally compared to 75 percent by hotels, according to Arival. Image: teamLab Borderless Shanghai | WeChat Account.

Another incentivisation strategy has involved partnering with local hotels. Reluctant to lower ticket prices, teamLab created packages with high-end hotels, including the Hyatt and Jing An Shangri-La, allowing visitors to reflect on their spectral experiences over afternoon tea. “Visitors spend the same money but get more value,” said Sales and Marketing Director Eddie Xu Marketing. With regular tickets priced at 249 RMB ($35), a package of 479 RMB for two with tea is a reasonable expense that greatly enhances a visit. Aside from expanding teamLab’s promotion it helps maintain prices, “we’re holding our prices,” says Xu, “it will be hard to recover [prices] post-virus if we discount too much.”

The uncertain climate and limits of consumer spending has made competition amongst Shanghai’s cultural attractions fierce, but with 5,000 visitors passing through teamLab in weekends in early June, it seems to be finding success, albeit at 50 percent capacity. 

Additional reporting by Jessie Han


Jing Culture & Commerce