Posted: June 7, 2017 by Paul Cohen, Regional Director of Business Development
ICSC RECon REDUX
In May I shared my Top Ten Tips for Surviving ICSC RECON 2017. Having now had two weeks to work off my hangover, I thought it valuable to share some additional thoughts from this year’s conference. Send me your tips for surviving and thriving at ICSC Vegas.
- Stay off the strip. I’ve always found it a little depressing to come down from my hotel room each morning and see an old lady on the slot machines next to an insurance salesman who has been playing Blackjack all night. This year, our team at CREXi used AirBnB to rent a five-bedroom house five minutes from the strip. Initially, the goal was cost savings and flexibility as we hadn’t finalized our roster, but what we found was the time we spent together in the evenings before going to the strip was an effective team building experience. As someone who has stayed on the strip multiple times, it was nice to see where the locals live, go for a run in the neighborhoods without inhaling cigarette smoke on my way in and out of the hotel lobby, and to support some local restaurants and bars. I’m not suggesting readers do it every year, but give it a try.
- Not just a pretty face. I got some blow-back on my previous Survival Guide post for suggesting that unless you are “an attractive woman” people won’t just stop by your booth. Some took that to mean that as a female professional you should use your looks and not your abilities to get business. Far from it. I was talking about paid models meant to lure passerby’s in. While the practice seems to be on the decline, when applied it often comes off as tacky and less than professional.
- One giant step for man. Take advantage of the vast distances walked by setting step goals for the day. I took 45,484 Steps over the two days. Anyone do better?
- Elevator Pitch Redux. I visited several booths and asked what I believed to be a simple question: What do you do? I expected a simple elevator pitch. You know, like if you were going up an actual elevator. Here’s what happened instead (on almost every occasion): first, the booth host became defensive and asked who I was while they looked directly at my chest to scan my badge. Five minutes later after completion of their “elevator pitch” I was still no clearer. I felt like I was in Willy Wonka’s Glass elevator on the way to Umpa Lumpa land! I am now getting emails from some of these companies and still don’t know what they do.
- Get better swag. Sorry but somebody had to say it. Other than the group that gave out flip flops and the sandwich guys, the swag was very unimaginative. Throw away those stress balls. I suggest that you come up with a theme based upon what your company stands for and then build around that. According to Rich Curran, owner of Expo Convention Contractors (the country’s leading Convention Services provider), “make your theme and swag match. For example, Miami based developer uses a beach theme and gives out sunglasses. You can also use your giveaway to capture leads without asking. You can set up a photographer and offer headshots or a caricature artist. A simple business card drop gets them in line.”
- The booth, you can’t handle the booth. It was interesting to see how companies handled their allotted space. I saw quite a few “closed” booths, meaning booths that had physical barriers to entry and some with gate keepers behind big desks. Booths should be open in my opinion. Think of a playground for adults. They can come in and see what you are doing. Host a Happy hour in the booth. Nothing says welcome to our booth like a Goose and soda. Expo’s Curran added “a welcoming environment keeps attendees there and talking. Making connections are key, so having someone want to stay at your booth longer gives a chance to build a relationship. Make your booth about an experience not just a product or service.”
- Don’t go deep the first night. This was in the original post but worth elaboration. I saw a lot of hurt people on Tuesday morning. My advice is to take it easy for the first night (or two if you’re staying longer) and stay hydrated. When you do eventually hit the strip, know your limits and stay within them. Some of my best relationships have been made with people I get a little “loose” with, but it’s a fine line. Remember this is a company function and any inappropriate behavior can hurt your standing within the firm. Whether you realize it or not.
- Go to the parties. I missed the Chainsmokers but got front row to Nelly (Thanks Colliers International!). A confession, I forgot who Nelly was, I was thinking Nelly Furtado so when “Nelly” (rapper from circa 1998) hit the stage I was a tad disappointed. However, once Nelly started the show I got into the mood and found myself singing my own version of his song:
You had to be there!
Paul Cohen is a Regional Director with CREXi based in the firm’s Miami office and focused on business development in the southeast. Prior to joining CREXi, Cohen was a Managing Director specializing in investment sales and equity raises at Cohen Financial, a national debt and equity advisor. Prior to Cohen Financial, Paul owned and operated his own independent real estate firm following a 12-year tenure at CBRE where Cohen was a Senior Vice President and led the Private Client Group in Miami-Dade County with a specialty in office and industrial investment sales. Email Paul