A conversation between Terry Montesi, CEO of Trademark Property Company, and Paul Kurzawa, Experiential & Entertainment Development Expert.
Now more than ever, retail and mixed-use developers are charged with identifying innovative ways to stay relevant as they compete with the convenience and speed of online shopping. Historically, a successful shopping center was built on finding the balance of location and tenant mix. Today though, that formula simply isn’t enough to draw customers.
So, what can developers do to set their properties apart? Trademark CEO Terry Montesi recently sat down with retail experience expert Paul Kurzawa to discuss how investments in brand loyalty, superior guest service programs, and active, lively public spaces are being used to create genuine personal connections with customers that ultimately translate into sales.
Terry: Paul, let’s briefly discuss your background and your journey into customer experience and experiential retail.
Paul: My career started about 26 years ago working for the retail financial services branch of a company called MLC. That’s really where the guest service experience started for me. I then worked for Lend Lease Retail in Australia, moved to the United States in 1997, and learned about a completely different way of approaching consumer engagement. I also worked for Westfield for eight years, then Caruso, in development and as COO, where hospitality was a big part of the overall business plan and a core part of their success. After that, I worked for Dreamworks, which was something very different outside of the real estate world. I think the great thing about that opportunity was the appreciation I developed for family entertainment, and in particular, storytelling. It’s interesting, because the projects I was involved in always came back to storytelling – how to create a beginning, middle and end of an experience engagement.
To summarize my career, I had the opportunity to work with some really great companies that instituted customer service and what they saw as being important to guest experience – whether it was transactional efficiency, or relaying information back to the customer, how a story is told, or how they connect with employees, and therefore, their customers. Somehow, all these things come together to deliver the question the retail shopping center business faces today: How do we take all of those elements and evolve our business?
Terry: Real estate is under pressure to become more personal and customized. What can we, as developers, do to create places and programs that engage people and generate connection?
Paul: People want…