Tired of fashion-addicted
attendees sneaking out of sessions to power-shop? Here’s a
solution: Plan a shopping tour or a special event at a local mall.
Most malls -- ahem, shopping centers -- welcome groups with open
arms; some will even throw in special gifts, coupons, private rooms
for receptions and other incentives to entice visitors to shop till
they drop. If malls sound like uninspired event venues, consider
that some are quite spectacular, and attendees often will visit
them anyway in the course of a multiday program.
To add some pizzazz, customize the
event by providing personal shoppers (often available at no extra
cost), a private refreshment area (ask mall management if outside
caterers can be used for private events) and/or a concierge service
where coats and packages can be checked. Most malls have event
coordinators who can provide suggestions for enhancing the outing
and make arrangements.
To find the best venue, contact the
local convention and visitors bureau or an area destination
management company. Mall management firms also can provide
information and contacts at their retail centers. For example, The
Phoenix-based Macerich Co. (480-994-8048; www.macerich.com) has
a tourism department to help facilitate shopping events at its 76
centers across the country. Other upscale mall companies to try
include the Los Angeles-based Westfield Group (310-478-4456; www.westfield.com), with 121 centers, and The Mills
Corp., based in Chevy Chase, Md. (301-968-6000; www.millscorp.com),
with 39 properties in the United States.