I attended the International Shopping Center convention in Las Vegas, Nevada last week, which was attended by more than 30,000 members of the International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC). The event was held at the Las Vegas Convention Center filling the North, Central and South Halls with booths presenting products and services from developers, brokerage houses, financial institutions and construction product vendors. However, what was in short supply were retailers. There were several retail booths from franchise organizations and 2nd and 3rd tier retailers but very few of the national credit retailers were present.
As I watched the human mass make its way up and down the corridors, which were identified as streets to make for easier navigation, I wondered where they were all going in such frenzy. Did they actually have appointments to meet with representatives in one of the booths? Were they possibly on their way to a seminar or product presentation? As I networked with other attendees at breakfast, lunch, and cocktail events put on by the ICSC I questioned them as to their goals in attending this year’s convention and whether they felt they were having any success in accomplishing their goals. Almost all I had conversations with were real estate professionals interested in locating a retailer or small developer interested in hiring them for brokerage services. I began to realize that the large brokerage houses were doing the same thing but utilizing a little different strategy. They had impressive booths with a large number of their staff sitting around in their Brooks Brother suits conversing with each other. A show of force I presume, hoping to give a retailer or developer the impression that their brokerage firm was successful and had plenty of equally successful agents to help them with their leasing needs.
It was becoming clear to me that most of the ICSC members attending the convention were looking for the same thing, retailers. Unfortunately retailers were in short supply at the convention so here they all were chasing after the same dollar. As attendees told each other about their firms and areas of expertise it struck me that they were preaching to the choir. Not one of the attendees was really interested in what the others had to say, but was politely listening in hopes of getting some small amount of value out of this chance meeting.
As the CEO of Katchen Company, a boutique full service real estate firm servicing the greater Denver metro area, my goal was somewhat different. While I’d certainly embrace the idea of representing a national retailer or another developer I was more interested in networking with people. I wanted to make connections throughout the real estate community so that if there was need for information or expertise in a community I wasn’t familiar with I’d know someone who would either have the answer or would know somebody that does. This is somewhat the premise behind LinkedIn but without the impersonal connection. I was successful at obtaining my goal and walked away from the convention please with my new business connections.
In your business are you preaching to the choir? Could it have just as easily been you at the convention chasing the same dollars? It’s something to consider when forming your marketing strategy.