Oct 13, 2011 Ami Olson Uncategorized
Imagine you’re being courted by the Destiny leasing team as a potential tenant in the combination entertainment, shopping and dining destination. How do you think the team would sell you on Syracuse?
Mark Strang is in charge of compiling data to convince tenants and big-name brands that Destiny, and Syracuse, is an opportunity they don’t want to miss.
“You could call me the director of marketing of Destiny,” Strang said.
“So, currently that’s creating the marketing strategy for the leasing team, for the project development team and then also that will transition as we get open to driving traffic to the center.”
Strang and a five-person leasing team, along with developers Bob Congel and Bruce Keenan, are responsible for showing potential tenants what they need to see and hear about Syracuse and Destiny to sell them on the idea of opening up shop here.
“We basically present the things that we think will most influence tenants to come here,” Strang said. “We have a limited amount of time to talk to them; they have a limited attention span so the briefer we can keep it, the better. So we present the things we think are most impactful about our project and about the area to them.”
The Destiny project’s somewhat tarnished reputation may not extend very far outside of Onondaga County, but locals may be surprised by which attractions top the list of highlights of the Syracuse area, as it relates to drawing in outside brands and business.
Strang took a step-by-step look at the presentation he typically gives to a potential tenant that may need a little coaxing to see all of what Syracuse has to offer their brand:
The history of Oil City
“We take them through the site history, because they start to understand our commitment to Syracuse and to the property,” Strang explained. The story of Oil City, and the developers’ decision to build on the location, shows the uniqueness of Destiny and Carousel, and shows a 25-year commitment to the project, he said.
“They’re tying their success to ours, so they want something that’s got a lot of commitment behind it.”
The highway and traffic system
“One of the reasons we bring [potential tenants] up to the sixth floor is so they see all the cars driving down 81,” Strang said, from a meeting room on the top floor of Carousel Center. “It’s impressive to look out there and see a steady stream of cars every time we’re up here giving presentations.”
Additional numbers from traffic count studies for the Thruway, Interstate 81, highway 690 and even Hiawatha and Park streets back up what can be seen from the windows, he said.
Selling the students
“Everybody’s interested in young
demographics,” Strang said. “If you took a typical demographic study of Syracuse, the students wouldn’t show up in that population. But one of the reasons Carousel has been so successful is because students at Cornell and SU and Le Moyne and other universities around are shopping at Carousel Center today. That opens us up to a younger demographic of brands, fashion-forward brands, that we’re pitching for the expansion.”
“The Canadian market is a big one for us,” Strang said. One credit card study showed that the second largest group of Carousel Center customers are from out of the country, and the majority of those shoppers are Canadian.
“We encourage it with guest services, we have packages for Canadian shoppers who come down, we encourage bus tour drivers to come down, and all of those things help boost being a destination for American brands to the Canadian market,” Strang said.
Fort Drum is just up the road
Strang said for many brands, the customer group present at From Drum “is a big draw.”
“We’ll highlight how many people are in Fort Drum, the impact on the community, the ease of driving down to shop here, the frequency you see people in uniform walking through carousel,” he said.
“All those things tie into that specific customer base, so if a brand has connections to that, I have a slide I’ll plug into the presentation.”
The Great NYS Fair
“The same with the Fair,” Strang added. “There are some fashion brands you might not show the fair slide in, but most brands see that as just another reason to come to Syracuse, and a million more people in August that they have the opportunity to sell to.”
Strang said the Destiny team doesn’t view the facilities and activities at Turning Stone as competition, but as a selling point.
“Showing that there is a destination like Turning Stone that’s being successful in this market place is a big benefit to us. The fact that they draw and they are very successful and they’re a destination and they capitalize on some of the same tourist markets that we are looking at, that’s a big benefit and a big validator of what we’re looking for in a model.”
Growing local industries
“When it comes to a restaurant, they’re interested in more local data,” Strang explained. “They’re excited about us filling their restaurant with tourists on the weekends and with people coming in from longer distances, but they also want to know who’s coming Tuesday for lunch, because they need to staff and be busy during those times. So we’ll point out all of the medical and all of the universities in the area. We’ll show them the economic and employment numbers for those, and that’s helpful for them in understanding that there’s business going on in Syracuse and those people will eat out and that will be a success for us as well.
Turning around a turn-off
Strang said even Onondaga Lake can be an asset for selling Syracuse, in spite of its rather rancid reputation.
“We’ll actually talk about the lake’s history — you wouldn’t typically think is a big asset to talk about a totally polluted lake, but it’s a good story. It was polluted, now it’s under remediation and the fact that in the winter there’s eagles flying around it, that’s a good story. Those are interesting stories and that may be another reason why they remember their visit to Syracuse and that’s part of what we’re trying to do,” Strang said.
And what happens when the dreaded snow question comes up?
“Syracuse has this reputation of being just so snowy, but we’ll actually show them statistics on how the Thruway is always open, we’ll talk about how good we are at keeping the roads clear, how the airport’s always open and has one of the largest snowplows in the country,” Strang said. “It’s one of those things that comes up and you just talk them through it, and tell them that it doesn’t stop people from doing business and shopping.”
Ami Olson is editor of The Eagle. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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