|Retailers, brokers and developers set up booths at ICSC for
the purpose of making deals. Commercial districts can benefit
from ICSC’s tradeshow too.
EXHAUSTED! Yes…that’s what I am right now after having spent the past two days walking the floor of ICSC with five different non-profit organizations and Business Improvement Districts. For those of you unfamiliar with ICSC, the International Council of Shopping Centers hosts the grand-daddy of all trade shows where members of the commercial real estate industry (mostly all retail and restaurant focused) come together to make deals. The largest ICSC trade show is in Las Vegas every May, but the New York show is the second largest with over 6,000 participants and 300+ booths. If you have vacant sites and are looking for national or regional chains this is a place where, over the course of two days, you apply good ole’ fashion shoe leather to meeting people and making connections. Instead of spending days and weeks of staff time researching retail websites in search of site selection criteria and contact information, you spend two days walking the floor and accomplish work that would otherwise take you much, much longer. Not only that, but face time with retailers, brokers who represent retailers, developers, service providers, etc. can also make the difference between an email/phone call that gets returned and one that doesn’t. In at least two cases, our sites walked the floor with their local property owners…even better!
So how do you prepare for ICSC? Planning starts early…
Our team has spent the past year preparing these sites to attend ICSC. The process began with market analysis, but certainly did not end there. We helped these groups develop a retail vision for their districts while simultaneously identifying opportunity sites by working with landlords and local brokers. We also developed district-wide leasing plans that pin-pointed retail categories that reflected three basic criteria – 1) retail categories could be supported by the market, 2) retail categories that matched the space available in the district, and finally 3) retail categories that complemented local community needs and wants. Finally, we prepared marketing material that conveyed the message of these leasing plans for distribution and use in retail prospecting.
Once all those elements were in place, preparing for ICSC included scouring the exhibitor and attendee lists to develop a hit-list of retailers (and brokers who represent those retailers) who reflected our priority retail categories. With district marketing material and sell-sheets for the available spaces in hand, we worked the floor methodically, approaching booths, grabbing business cards and site selection information. In some cases, we made appointments with the right people in advance. In others, we simply walked up to the booth and asked to speak with the rep for the region we were in. If we couldn’t talk to the representative at that moment, we grabbed a card and moved on.
…and doesn’t end once the trade show is over!
As you can imagine, a lot of work happens after the trade show ends. Follow up is critical. The contacts made at ICSC are invaluable, not just in the short-term, but in the long-term. We will recommend that each district send regular e-mail blasts detailing their vacancies to their now growing list of brokers and retailers. These retailers may not need space right now, but you never know what their expansion plans will be in 6 months or even two years. It’s a slow-tedious process….but it works!