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Q&A: Macerich's Ken Volk on the importance of short-term tenants

Al Urbanski
Ken Volk
Ken Volk

Macerich's digital QuikSpace program allows prospective tenants to inspect spaces and rent them online for any term from one day to 12 months. Chain Store Age spoke with the company's executive VP of business development Ken Volk to learn how it's working out.

Ken, Macerich led the retail real estate industry with a programmatic system for short-term leasing. Tell us about it.
QuikSpace is Macerich’s proprietary digital platform that makes short-term leasing of retail space at our top-performing properties around the country as easy and user-friendly as renting an apartment or booking a vacation home or hotel room. Retailers seeking short-term leases of up to 12 months can search and explore available spaces online via interactive maps and photos, take virtual tours, and then book their space via our convenient, frictionless platform.

We’ve simplified every aspect of the short-term leasing process. Tenants now have access to research and are able to visit and tour spaces without leaving the comfort of their homes or offices. Most retailers like to visit a location more than once, and QuikSpace allows them to visit multiple times with no hassles.

How does Macerich’s QuikSpace benefit national retailers?
Bringing what’s new and fresh to our properties consistently drives traffic to our destinations and this absolutely benefits national retailers. All aspects of our specialty leasing and business development programming – kiosks, carts, pop-ups, and temporary inline stores, as well as on-site advertising and promotions – deliver newness and fresh experiences, which attracts shoppers. This includes everything from time-limited entertainment attractions like Candytopia or Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel. It’s great for local concepts experimenting with first-ever mall locations as well as favorite brands, such as the Lexus Experience now at Tysons Corner.

Another important benefit for retailers is the convenient tenant portal that is part of our QuikSpace platform. After signing their leases, tenants have secure, easy access to manage their accounts, submit information and documentation, receive announcements from Macerich and more. Macerich is one of the first major retail property owners to use a tool like this.

What’s been one of the hottest uses for QuikSpace in its early stages?
The most successful retailers today are using their stores for so much more than just in-store shopping, and QuikSpace technology supports this. For example, top brands are doing more with options like buy online and pickup in store, and for this they often need more storage space. We’re successfully utilizing QuikSpace across the portfolio for one-click storage leases with existing tenants, including major national retailers.

"Specialty leasing is a key segment of our business that will be back to pre-COVID levels this year."

What does QuikSpace – and specialty leasing in general – do for the Macerich portfolio?
Specialty leasing and other types of ancillary revenue generation contribute to overall performance for Macerich, including supporting occupancy and net operating income. Our CFO said recently that specialty leasing is a key segment of our business that will be back to pre-COVID levels this year, which is a big achievement. As well, temporary tenants that we successfully convert to permanent uses are an important component of our growth now and moving forward.

Has it driven up specialty leasing for the holidays?
Specialty leasing for Macerich is firing on all cylinders during the fourth quarter. Again, we’ll hit pre-pandemic levels this year thanks to our high-quality portfolio, strong teams, and great technology, including QuikSpace. We’re bringing guests all kinds of exciting short-term activations and programming during the holidays.

As an industry veteran, what do you think retail and real estate companies have learned over the past couple of years that they are putting into action now?
People are coming to Macerich’s top-quality regional town centers for all the fantastic in-person experiences they missed these past couple of years. This is especially true during the holidays. From getting up close and personal with Santa and enjoying live musical performances as part of a crowd to hand-picking great gifts and indulging in celebratory meals at our restaurants. People are ready for classic holiday experiences, and Macerich and our retailers are delivering on all this and more.

Executive VP Ken Volk guides all facets of significant revenue-generating business development programs at Santa Monica, Calif.-based Macerich.

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