The ICSC Blog

June 4, 2014

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Understanding Today’s Mass Notification Systems: Why You Need One


By: Daniel Wagstaff,

The odds are that your head of security can’t nail Detroit Rock City on Guitar Hero. And the odds are even greater that your Shopping Center will never experience a terrorist takeover. But it still begs the question, what if Paul Blart (you remember Paul from 2009’s comedy Mall Cop) had a Mass Notification System? Or even better still, what if Paul Blart was signed up to receive notifications from the Shopping Center where he worked? Perhaps all of the ensuing comedy in the movie could have been avoided. Certainly this would have made movie critics happy!

Over the past decade, the communications industry has exploded with new technology that can help businesses communicate effectively. Obviously, not all Shopping Centers have the luxury of a security officer as light on his feet and as adept at fighting crime as Paul Blart, but Shopping Centers can equip themselves with Mass Notification Systems to help improve overall communication plans, increase awareness during an emergency and improve business goals.

If you select the right one, a Mass Notification System (let’s call them MNSs from here on out) can be fabulously easy to use. If you know how to get on the internet and how to click a mouse you pretty much already know how to use one. MNSs are already used in higher education, healthcare and transportation and by local governments. They provide numerous benefits and are a perfect fit for Shopping Centers that have a multi-tenant workforce.

For all of us, the ability to communicate quickly is critical—especially during an emergency. People expect to be notified when important info is available these days. I don’t know about you, but my smartphone alerts me about breaking news, sports scores, movie times… anything I want it to actually. Incorporating widely used platforms—like smartphones—into your Shopping Center’s communication strategy is a no brainer in today’s environment. Utilizing a MNS is the perfect way to do so.

Just like you, I know that often it seems like there is never enough time in the day. And when something doesn’t go as planned or an urgent situation develops your tenant’s satisfaction and peace of mind will decline when they feel uninformed.

Let me say that again. Your tenant’s satisfaction and peace of mind will decline. Satisfaction and peace of mind are some of those intangible benefits of a MNS. Have you ever left your smartphone at home for the day? How did you feel? I know I can’t stand it. I feel disconnected and like I am missing out on everything. Well, a MNS can help reassure your tenants that they won’t miss out on anything.

Not to be so doom and gloomy, but do you know the most likely emergencies that could occur at your Shopping Center? Where are you vulnerable? What would you do if something happened right now? Planning is the key to either avoiding these situations or being prepared to react effectively. A key component in managing a crisis is to ensure effective communication. In my opinion, a MNS should be an integral part of your emergency action plan’s communication efforts when a crisis occurs.

Safety aside, how do you pump out day-to-day communications to your tenants? How you communicate even routine information can impact your tenant satisfaction and overall reputation. Once again, tenants want to be kept informed.  It is inevitable that things won’t always go as planned, just ask Paul Blart, but what helps you stand apart is how you react when things do go wrong.

You get it. A MNS can help you communicate effectively both during an emergency and on a day-to-day basis. So, how can it make your life easier as a landlord or property manager?  MNSs can help your Shopping Center increase its operational efficiency, drive revenue and mitigate risk. Whoa! Tell you more? Okay. Self-registration portals reduce administrative load, increasing tenant satisfaction and peace of mind, which can help encourage lease renewals. Additionally sending messages via multiple channels reduces safety risks by increasing the readership of messages that contain critical information. Just a few examples of how MNSs are good for business.

Just like any product out there, knowing which one is right for you and your Shopping Center depends on a variety of factors like budget constraints and your communication priorities. Take a minute to think about your Shopping Center’s specific priorities. Write them down. Discuss them with colleagues.

It shouldn’t take you too long to develop a usage plan for a MNS because they are so relevant in today’s digital and information era. I just scraped the surface on why I think a Mass Notification System is an ideal communication tool for Shopping Centers. The great thing about MNSs is they can be used in countless ways to keep communications flowing and keep your tenants happy.

June 3, 2014

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Industry Snapshot – June 3

The ICSC Industry Snapshot is a bi-weekly report presented as an info-graphic; produced by ICSC’s Communications department. This dashboard presents an overview of key industry metrics in an easy to follow and visually pleasing format, so that the user can quickly navigate it and take away a high-level view of industry performance. Furthermore, the dashboard is presented in a mobile format so that the user can easily access it on their smartphone or tablet. Each installment of the snapshot features; U.S Shopping Center sales, Weekly U.S. Chain Store Sales, Shopping Center NOI by Area, the latest ICSC Shopping Center Executive Survey, CMBS Delinquency Rates, U.S. Chain-Store Sales by Segment, U.S. Shopping Center NOI by Type, U.S. Shopping Center Jobs, and other Shopping Center Facts.

June 3, 2014

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Q&A With MOCIAL Speaker Erik Qualman

Tell us about yourself….
Called a Digital Dale Carnegie, Erik Qualman is the author of Socialnomics. Socialnomics made Amazon’s #1 Best Selling List for the US, Japan, UK, Canada, Portugal, Italy, China, Korea and Germany. His book Digital Leader helped him be voted the 2nd “Most Likeable Author in the World” behind Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling. What Happens in Vegas Stays on YouTube is his 2014 release and it is already being adopted by the top universities and global brands.

Qualman has performed in 42 countries with: Coach, Chase, Sony PlayStation, National Restaurant Association, IBM, Facebook, SCG Thailand,ADP, Starbucks, M&M/Mars, National Retail Federation, Cartier, Bertelsmann, Raytheon, Chrysler, Small Business League, Montblanc, Dairy & Deli Association,TEDx, Polo, UGG, Nokia, Google,AutoTrader and others. Qualman gave the commencement address at the McCombs Business School (University of Texas).

He has had the fortune to share the stage with: Al Gore, Julie Andrews, Magic Johnson, Malcolm Gladwell, Bill O’Reilly, Jeff Bezos, Howard Schultz, Brett Favre,Tony Hawk, Sarah Palin, Jose Socrates, Alan Mulally, and many others of note.

He is listed as a Top 50 MBA Professor and is no stranger to the executive suite, having served as the Head of Marketing at Travelzoo (TZOO); today he sits on several company boards.Yet, he may be best known for writing and producing the world’s most watched social media video. His work has been highlighted on 60 Minutes, The New York Times, WSJ, Mashable, USA Today, ABC News, Financial Times,
Forbes, Fortune, CBS News, and The Huffington Post. He also achieved the Guinness Book of World Records for the longest continuous podcast.

Socialnomics was a finalist for the “Book of the Year” and, is ranked as a Top 10 Blog (PC Magazine). Fast Company lists Professor Qualman as a Top 100 Digital Influencer. He made Forbes Top 50 Power Influencers list. Qualman was Academic All-Big Ten in basketball at Michigan State University and been honored as the Michigan State University Alum of the Year.Qualman has an MBA from the McCombs School of Business.A proud husband and father, he lives with his wife and two daughters in Boston. With society’s increasing dependence on technology, what changes in marketing strategies has it made in last few years. Today the consumer is the most informed consumer in the history of the world. Word of Mouth is now on Digital Steroids and it will determine the success or failure of your business. Marketers role is more important than ever before.

What have been the benefits of incorporating digital marketing and mobile apps into your corporation?
We don’t have a choice on whether we do this the choice is how well we do it.

In what ways has the digital age revitalized your industry?
I no longer have to physically be in a specific location to do my job.

How important is consumer engagement? How do you bring attention to your brand through you social media channels/mobile apps?
Make a product that is worth talking about and consumers and clients will engage and be your best marketers and sales team.

What do you hope participants will gain by attending your MOCIAL session?
That success is a choice in this digital age but only if you know the new rules. I teach the new rules of Digital Leadership.

Is the increasing number of online shoppers a concern to you
If we don’t change out business model it’s a concern. On the other hand with change there are also huge opportunities if you look at the problem from an angle of opportunity.


For more information about MOCIAL check out the event website.

June 2, 2014

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Reflections on #RECon14

C&W Booth RECon 2014-1.jpg
By: Matthew B. Winn, Global Retail COO , Atlanta

ICSC’s RECon event in Las Vegas is like nothing else in the industry and this year was no exception. After a brief respite to hydrate, recover from sleep deprivation and stimulation overload, here are some reflections on RECon 2014:

1. To borrow a phrase from George Costanza We’re back, baby! The mood of the convention was overwhelming positive. C&W worked with MotionLoft to track visitors who passed our booth during the show. In the three days the Leasing Mall was open, we counted over 80,000 passersby despite the fact that a few of the major mall owners have relocated from the convention hall to hotel ballrooms. C&W attendance was up 20% with over 300 retail experts from leasing, capital markets, Valuation & Advisory and Investor Services in attendance. Also of note, C&W Future Leaders (CWFL) and C&W Rising Leaders hosted an event at Encore Beach Club as part of the Opening Sessions.

2. Global is the new black. As ICSC’s first and only global partner, we met with clients and had 30 delegates from 7 countries engaged in talks with globally expanding brands. On the Saturday before the opening of the show, C&W hosted a dinner for its international group and was able to say “sit wherever you want, but do not sit next to someone from the same country.” (Translating this phrase into Portuguese, Korean, and Mandarin was the hard part.)

3. Eating our way to health. Grocery, food & beverage, and healthcare remained important to all of our discussions. Not surprisingly, the Red Lobster spin off from Darden was financed in part by a 500 restaurant portfolio sale-leaseback. GAFO (apparel, furniture and other traditional uses) are competing with restaurants and wellness clinics in open air environments for prime spots across the portfolio. Upgrading credit quality and managing portfolio risk remain part of the new normal. While the economy and results may all point to a resurgent market, memories of the Great Recession continue to drive behavior. The store closures and portfolio reviews are not over. They will not be as drastically felt, however, as the number of tenants for those spaces is increasing. The pool of investors is also on the rise judging from the appetite for NNN leases, urban assets and institutional quality shopping centers.

4. Development is in. For the first time in a few years, large scale mixed use projects seem to be getting traction. In the US, there is no doubt that they are more confined to the smile markets of the East and West Coast as well as the Sun Belt. But, they are definitely there. These new projects are all positioned as either luxury, mixed use or value retail and outlet centers—the physical embodiment of the barbell of prosperity we have been tracking since 2009. Globally, however, there is widespread demand for new product as highlighted by the Global Shopping Center Development Report we released at the show.

5. The future is now. Retailers have incorporated the latest wave of technology into their merchandising strategies. Clicks & bricks is giving way to an integrated omni-presence strategies for both retailers and mall owners. There is no doubt mobile technology, social media and globalization are changing the way we all shop. While it initially seemed a threat, Class A destinations seem to be finding ways to adapt, survive and thrive in the modern world. These locations are benefitting from increased demand and new highs in rent and lows in vacancy and cap rates.

While things are still not the same as they were in the go-go 80s, the internet boom of the late 90s, or the credit boom of the early 2000s, there is no doubt that the global economy has shifted into a higher gear and that the real estate community is ready to react. Thus, the Memorial Day weekend in the U.S. was a much needed break to rest and recover—it’s going to be busy going forward.

May 30, 2014

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RECon Zero…. “RETurn of the RECap”

By Jesse Tron (@JesseTronPR)

I hope you all had a restful and relaxing (and much deserved) long weekend filled with lazy days at the pool or the beach, cook-outs…or at least catching up on all that email and getting yourself back to “Inbox Zero” nirvana. For the record, Biz told me he completes “Inbox Zero” daily. Well, while I’m not touching your Inbox, I’ll catch you up on what you might have missed during the largest gathering of retail real estate professionals in the world and see if we can’t get to “RECon Zero.”

Chapter 1 (with apologies to A.A. Milne) in which we are introduced to RECon, and some bees, and the stories begin. Ok, ok…so no bees…thankfully. The stories however began a bit before many of you even arrived in Las Vegas. Let’s take a peek behind the curtain at RECon 14 getting underway .

Friday Set-up, still a ways to go

Photo May 16, 10 40 56 AM Photo May 16, 10 04 06 AM Photo May 16, 10 04 10 AM

And the trade show team was hard at work…

Photo May 16, 10 42 19 AM

well, most of them…

Photo May 16, 11 06 28 AM

obviously kidding…That’s Eddie (in the foreground) who runs the trade expo at RECon; and is one of the busiest people on the planet during RECon. They nearly ran us over on the way to their next meeting after the camera was put away…

But by Saturday, things were really starting to take shape.

Photo May 17, 10 56 34 AM Photo May 17, 10 57 29 AM Photo May 17, 11 00 48 AM Photo May 17, 11 01 02 AM

The Coca-Cola Happiness Lounge Truck arrived…..


Inside another Coca-Cola truck!

Photo May 16, 11 08 13 AM

One last bit of quiet….

Photo May 16, 9 08 47 AM

Before the storm


And then just like California Chrome, we were off to the races! See what you missed Day 1 at the Show.

Day 1 concluded with some very important hardware being handed out at the U.S. Maxi Awards…

PicMonkey Collage

Congrats to the winners!

A night of entertainment with host Howie Mandel for a good cause


and a chance to relax and network poolside.


Day 2 was a veritable beehive of activity. Jean Chatzky confirmed the old adage that “money never sleeps” kicking the day off at her 7:30 am keynote breakfast session.
The floors opened for business…


and so did the educational sessions.


Brad Meltzer told us to find our heroes, and thank them…





Anyone who wears that suit to RECon, with that kind of confidence, is some kind of a hero…or is color blind.

Talk amongst yourselves…I’m on a happiness break.


Of course there were deals…


and deals…


and more deals


And on day 3 Mike & Mike appeared on stage


No, not them….this Mike & Mike


That’s ICSC CEO Mike Kercheval interviewing Mike Duke, Chairman of the Executive Committee of the Board, Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. during our final keynote session of RECon 2014.


Of course while all that was happening in real life, the social channels were also all atwitter (see what I did there?). #RECon14 reached over 6.9 million followers on Twitter. You can see what you missed on Twitter during day 2, but Instagram was also painting quite the picture (ok, no more, I promise)…here’s what you missed.

#ankleswag was in full effect at RECon

Coca-Cola’s Scott Ryan (@spryan) never took a picture where he wasn’t holding a Coca-Cola product.


also Katie and Paige from JLL never stopped smiling…it was infectious

a ton of steps were counted…well over 1 million

here are my favorites:

you’ll get no sympathy here!

way to set the bar high guys

that is oddly specific…


Terra Nova arrived in style…where was my invite?

scratch that…where was my invite???

“The Black Widow” did some showing off

someone made a new friend

let’s start a new # for RECon 2015… #boothswag


almost done…but first

Since I have yet to figure out how to be in multiple places at the same time, much like Biz, a little bird told me some things…or in this case many little birds (and not the kind Varys uses…5 people are laughing, the rest of you are confused). So thank you to all that posted on Twitter and Instagram using #RECon14 throughout the show, you made researching and writing these posts a lot easier and a lot more fun. A very special thanks to the hardworking social media, trade expo, and RECon teams for their help.

Well, in the words of Billy Joel, “life is a series of hellos and goodbyes, I’m afraid it’s time for goodbye again,” – but I look forward to another hello at #RECon15!

May 29, 2014

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Livin’ Large: Luxury Retail Market

Designer goods have always held a prominent place on the richest streets in America. On the Las Vegas strip at the ICSC conference, thousands of high street retailers are gathering to determine the best strategies to serve the shopping elite. Experts say now more than ever, luxury brands are including a mix of both physical and online presence.

May 29, 2014

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What Lenders are Looking For

The retail industry has endured five hard years or recovery since the Financial Crisis, but a retail resurgence is well underway with consumer spending expected to rise by 4 percent this year. Investment capital is now seeking ways back into the sector.

May 29, 2014

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Oversized = Opportunity

The mantra “build it and they will come” was a familiar move in cities across the country before the recession. As a result, retail real estate was overbuilt, and today, there’s more than 9 billion square feet of retail space in the United States While big-box vacancy remains on the minds of many at the ICSC convention in Las Vegas many retail owners believe oversized spaces can mean opportunity if they can think outside the traditional leasing box.