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How retailers can get more active in center activations

Renslow: "We encourage our tenants to get involved in our activations. We're truly in this journey together."

For more than 20 years, Mall of America has been my home.

 It was my dream to work in the events and entertainment industry. When I was offered an internship at Mall of America while I was in college, I was ecstatic! The Mall is a fast-paced ever-evolving venue and I learned so much during my internship that I didn’t want it to end. I commonly describe my career at the mall like a jungle gym, taking chances and lateral moves for the potential of growth. Now more than two decades later, here I am still learning through our incredible experiences surrounded by an exceptional team. 

Mall of America is an iconic tourist destination. To remain a leader in the industry, we need keep trying new things. Our events are something that makes our Mall unique. We host more than 300 events each year offering something for everyone. Recently, we had more than 5,000 people come to the Mall to see a pop-up performance from EDM DJ Marshmello. 

Over the years we’ve had stars such as Taylor Swift, Kate Hudson, Ed Sheeran and Mark Wahlberg. Peloton and Lululemon teamed up to host a class with celebrity instructors in the Rotunda, which was also streamed on the Peloton App. Fan-favorite Twiggy the Waterskiing Squirrel has performed shows at the Mall drawing crowds of adoring fans. We are also known for our cultural events, which bring people together to celebrate traditions.

Timeliness and relevancy are of crucial importance to the staging of successful events. Activations are a nontraditional form of media. Brands take space in Mall of America not only for its high volume of sales-per-square-foot, but to garner visibility for their brand outside of the Mall and to build relationships and connect with customers. Movie studios, book publishers, and music labels are great at doing this to drive awareness.

We are constantly exploring new opportunities to offer one-of-a-kind retail experiences for our guests. In April, we opened a Rent the Runway Sample Sale, a 3,000-sq.-ft., limited-time pop-up shop. It is stocked with thousands of gowns, dresses, and accessories from previous Rent the Runway collections that were once available to rent. Shoppers have loved this addition, especially with all the dresses costing only $85. We have also found unique ways to promote the store. An example of this is when one of our team members found a dress worn by Daisy, a popular contestant on the latest season of “The Bachelor”, during the finale episode. The social team posted a fun video of the dress, and many women came flocking to the store looking for it. 

Something that has differentiated MOA from day one is our relationship with our tenants. We help with marketing, public relations, events, and social coverage that is unmatched at any shopping venue. Our team supports them in their brand awareness efforts and growth at the mall. We encourage our tenants to get involved in our Mall of America community. If they’re successful, we’re successful. We’re truly in this journey together. 

What also sets us apart is our unique attractions. Mall of America was ahead of its time by building the largest indoor theme park inside a mall. Not only do we have Nickelodeon Universe, but we have Sea Life giving guests an up-close look at sharks, sting rays, and underwater life some may never otherwise get the opportunity to see. Guests can visit FlyOver America, a virtual flight simulation that takes visitors on a breathtaking journey, along with Crayola Experience, offering creative play for children. We are continually bringing in new attractions and experiences such as Wink World from the brilliant mind of the co-founder of the Blue Man Group, Chris Wink. Additionally, we’re excited for the upcoming opening of Great Big Game Show allowing visitors to participate in a live-action game show experience. 

After more than 30 years, we have learned a lot. It is important to understand your audience and re-evaluate it on a regular basis. Know where they reside on social media and communicate with them. We can’t do this alone, we are constantly brainstorming and soliciting ideas from everyone. Ultimately, people want to be together and have a sense of belonging and community, and we offer that at Mall of America for everyone. To walk around our mall and hear the laughs and see the smiles is priceless and it makes all the hard work worth it. 

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