Shopping Center Business

MAY 2015

Shopping Center Business is the leading monthly business magazine for the retail real estate industry.

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234 • SHOPPING CENTER BUSINESS • MAY 2015 Interview by Randall Shearin How one developer is drawing traffc by working with retailers and promoters to create events that bring crowds. Event Marketing — The Next Generation O ver the last year, as SCB has vis- ited numerous shopping centers around the country, we have no- ticed one phenomenon over and over: events are back. Retail projects are creat- ing events that go beyond giveaways and soap opera star visits. This new generation of events collaborates with charities, orga- nizations, promoters and sports events to create a regional draw. Moreover, many smart owners are programming centers so that events are a regular part of the center's life. At the forefront of events today is North American Properties, whose two Atlanta area centers, Avalon and Atlantic Station, have created a buzz with the number of events that they host. Heading up mar- keting for NAP is retail veteran Liz Gil- lespie, who is tirelessly creative in coming up with ideas and working with retailers and a number of external parties to cre- ate events. SCB interviewed her recently to find out why events are more relevant than ever for retail environments. SCB: Why are events important for re- gional retail properties today? Gillespie: We like to think that in the lives of our guests, our properties will be their 'third place' — a place beyond home and work that serves to reenergize and sooth the soul. A place that provides memorable experiences and fosters better relationships among people. We see our- selves as being in the hospitality business and define events as staged experiences and our team as 'ExperienceMakers.' Shopping center developers can no lon- ger rely on a build it and they will come strategy — people today expect and de- serve more. When there is a Gap on every corner, why does someone choose yours? When people can sit on their couch in the comfort of their own surroundings where they control the experience and order virtually anything they want online, why go out? We venture out because we are social by nature and crave connections. People want to have fun — they want to be engaged, inspired, wowed, and have a story to share online or in person. They want to feel valued, appreciated and, at the end of the day, feel good about the choices they've made. It is our responsi- bility to create meaningful value and de- liver extraordinary experiences for those we serve. SCB: In the shopping center industry, when you mention events, people harken back to center court events at the regional mall. How do events differ today than those in the past? Gillespie: At North American Proper- ties, we filter programs and create events with these three parameters in mind: 1) Does the event add value/make money/ drive sales? 2) Does it extend the brand? 3) Does it enhance the guest experience? If a proposed event or program does not hit on at least two of these, then it's not right for us or for our guests. It's not just about getting bodies through the door, it's about creating complementary and lasting experiences for our guests. It's about de- veloping programs that will align with our brand, resonate with our target audience and appeal to their lifestyle. Mostly, it's about building relationships, both within the communities we serve and one-on-one with our guests. SCB: How should a center program events? How should they schedule them? How many events should a center have per month/year? Gillespie: This would vary by center, property type and layout, and specific goals. Some properties are designed and equipped to host large-scale events and The Holiday Tree Lighting is an hours long event at Avalon, featuring holiday carols, fireworks and other attractions.

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