Preliminary Thoughts on RECon

It's been a long day. But ICSC's RECon has just begun.

I started the day early in New York, flew into Las Vegas and immediately jumped into meetings at the Trade Expo. Among the people I talked too, two meetings stuck out as particularly interesting on Day One. Commercial real estate listing firm RealUp officially launched. The firm aims to be a low-cost competitor to LoopNet and CoStar. RealUp has partnerships with a couple of brokerages, including Sperry Van Ness, and is working to sign more up. It's also backed by TerraServer and has provides sales comp data provided by MDA DataQuick. To try and gain a toehold in the market, the firm is giving free listings for the first three months. LoopNet and CoStar are formidable firms to take on and well entrenched in the commercial real estate listings space. But the backers of RealUp say that there's a desire for a less expensive alternative. So that's the void they're trying to fill. It will be interesting to see how RealUp fares and evolves in coming months.

I also sat down with Pitney Bowes and talked about Know Your Faces. This program is aimed at retailers and restaurant operators as a way to easily survey shoppers and take steps to optimize locations. It streamlines the process of surveying patrons and gathering data on purchasing habits. It can let retailers know if locations are performing up to snuff or if there need to be changes in how customers are targeted. The information, no doubt, is also useful in deciding on sites for new stores. It seems to me that shopping center owners would want their tenants to be gathering data like this--to ensure the retailers in their portfolios were doing well and hopefully minimize the possibility of closings. There also would seem to be an opportunity to try and compare data across tenants in a center to ensure that the right mix of tenants is in place.

Overall, the Trade Expo seemed pretty quiet, but not dead. This isn't a huge shock. Overall, attendance--best case--will be 30,000 this year compared with 40,000+ last year and about 50,000 in 2007. Also, a lot of attendees are compressing their trips to Monday and Tuesday. So I think we'll see more density tomorrow on the Leasing Mall floor. I'm curious to see what the booths look like. I've heard a lot of talk that firms--rather than unpacking the lavish booths of past years--are scaling down. They're keeping a presences, but it will be bare bones. I'll let you know tomorrow what things look like.

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