Promoting a city at ICSC
On May 18th the real estate development world will descend on Las Vegas Nevada for the annual ICSC Global Retail Real Estate Convention (International Council of Shopping Centers). A majority of the development deals that happen over the next year will be discussed or finalized at this annual event.
The conference will take up all of the massive conference center in Las Vegas and the halls will be a buzz of men and women in suits rushing from one meeting to the next. There will be no hiding from the constant buzz of conversation, deal making and glad handing, no place that is except for the floor where cities from across America send representatives to promote their town. This section of the conference will be the only place a weary attendee can find a moments peace and quite sitting among the rows of hastily set up displays from cities across America. The reason it is so peaceful in this section of the conference is because in general, nothing is happening here.
City representatives will man their display booth for a couple of long days, shake a couple of hands and more than likely accomplish nothing. If this describes the way you're city approaches this event then you already know that this is not the way to promote a city to developers and retailers.
This approach does not work because in general developers and retailers care absolutely zero about what city a new development is located in. They care about very specific sites and the demographics attached to those sights. They care about traffic patterns and ingress egress.
In order to be effective at this conference you have to do what all those people running around on the phone are doing. You need to have something specific to show these people. You need the best site or sights your city has to offer and you need them packaged in a way that is meaningful to the people you are trying to reach. Lastly, you need to be able to get this package directly in the hands of the people who make decisions and not dropped off to the pretty girl manning the booth and handing out mints.
For someone who does not deal with retailers and developers as a profession it is almost impossible
to navigate the confusion of an event this big. Cities that plan on attending this conference need a representative to help them get in front of the right people. Being prepared with the specific information retailers are looking for will set one city apart from another.
Time is ticking till this show kicks off and if you're city is planning on attending it's time to start changing the way you have done it in the past. Start making calls and setting meetings now and be ready to show retailers the things they need to make decisions. This will be difference between a busy and productive conference and the usual three day bore fest.