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Which Kind of Conference Attendee Are You? Counting Steps or Holding Down the Booth?

June 28, 2024

A pair of Phillips Edison & Co. colleagues documented their minute-by-minute experiences at ICSC LAS VEGAS last month. Both have been with the company since they interned there: senior marketing manager Allison Lembright in 2014 and senior leasing professional Ashley Selers in 2016.

Phillips Edison & Co.’s Allison Lembright, left, and Ashley Selers, right, at the company’s booth at ICSC LAS VEGAS in May 2024

Lembright, who works out of Phillips Edison’s Cincinnati headquarters, has coordinated the REIT’s booth since ICSC’s 2017 New York event. At ICSC LAS VEGAS this year, she got it ready before events and closed it down afterward, served as the face of the company during show floor hours and created a seamless booth experience for colleagues and visitors. Selers, who is based in Utah, navigated 27 meetings in two days at the Las Vegas Convention Center, not to mention networking parties, dinners and plenty of run-ins with old friends and industry contacts — moving deals forward all the while.

Below, see what they learned, who they met and what goes into making ICSC LAS VEGAS a success below. And stay tuned next month for a look at how each of them progressed from Phillips Edison intern to ICSC LAS VEGAS veterans.

Allison Lembright: Sunday, May 19

8 AM ET: Long day begins now! I depart from Cincinnati with a plane full of CRE professionals excited to start their week in Vegas.

9:05 AM PT: Land bright and early in Sin City with one carry-on suitcase stuffed to the brim. I try to plan my outfits at home, so I don’t overpack. This method usually works but you never know what you’ll need…

9:45 AM: Arrive at Encore. Our rooms are not ready, so we store our extra bags with concierge.

10:30 AM: Head to the South Hall at the Las Vegas Convention Center to check on the PECO booth. As coordinator of our booth, I want to be sure everything that is built so far looks show ready.    

10:40 AM-12:30 PM: Arrive at LVCC and note the current construction, as well as rideshare and ICSC bus locations to best direct my team when they come to the show on Monday. I stop by Registration to print my and my team’s badges. This way, they won’t have to wait in lines and can focus on their meetings. The booth is 95% built, which is exciting to see, so I begin organizing our Front Desk area with supplies we’ll need: note pads, Post-its, business cards, trays for collecting fliers and business cards, etc. We are promoting our famous flip-flops again, so we organize the shoes by sizes in their display baskets. I make sure our workroom is ready with a printer, snacks and extra chairs if needed. I meet with our booth-coordination team to make sure all tables and chairs are in their planned spots as well as cover anything else that needs to be completed.

12:40-2:30 PM: Arrive back to Encore to connect with associates and CRE colleagues poolside. There’s nothing like catching some western sunrays before a show to get you ready.

2:30-6 PM: Check into my room and sort out what clothing needs to be steamed and ready for the show. I recharge my social battery by spending time alone to prep myself for the days to come: how many guests to expect to our booth, noting what times catering will be coming, when we are most busy so I can set out more chairs, what social posts we can plan for during the day.

6:30-8:30 PM: Attend the ICSC Global Awards! It is thrilling to see all the nominations and winners. Watching the videos gives such great insight into how these events and promotions came together and benefited the community. I always leave so energized thinking of new marketing strategies to implement at our shopping centers.

Lembright with fashion designer Nick Verreos, who hosted the ICSC Global Awards

8:30-10:30 PM: Attend dinner at Allegro at Wynn. If you haven’t had their chicken parmesan, I highly recommend it! Beware, the chicken is the size of the plate, but who doesn’t love a challenge? I also recommend the calamari – SO GOOD.

10:30 PM: It is way past my East Coast bedtime, so I head back to my room to get a good night’s rest. Big two days ahead of us!

Ashley Selers: Sunday, May 19

8:30 AM ET: Fly out to Sin City to let the fun begin.

9 AM PT: Greeted by warm temperatures and the ICSC registration booth in the baggage claim area. Typically, I can fit everything in a carry-on, but this year it was all about look-good-feel-good, so I opted for the checked bag.

10 AM: Arrive at the hotel.

10:30 AM-3 PM: Some poolside networking with past and current co-workers, along with industry colleagues.

3:30PM: Checked into the hotel.

5 PM: Went over to the new Fontainebleau hotel. This is the newest hotel on the Vegas Strip. Extremely modern hotel, but a breath of fresh air from the other hotels! Grabbed a quick drink and caught up with an old friend.

5:45 PM: Stood in line for a taxi to head over to the Aria for dinner. You never know who you might meet, so it’s always good to have business cards with you! Exchanged cards and connected with a partner at a law firm out of New York who works with other REITs such as PECO.

6:15 PM: Stuffed my face with dumplings at Din Tai Fung at the Aria. If you haven’t been, this is highly recommended. Nothing like bringing our team together for a good meal before the craziness starts.

8-10 PM: Attended a few networking events at the Encore and Wynn before it was time to get some sleep!

Allison Lembright: Monday, May 20

5 AM: Who needs an alarm clock when your body thinks it’s sleeping in? Rise and shine for ICSC LAS VEGAS DAY 1!

7 AM: Head to the South Hall before traffic gets too heavy to set up our booth before our team arrives and the hall doors open. As our team arrives, I unpack our marketing materials and brochures to set out for viewing and distribution.

8 AM: Most of our team has arrived and several have early meetings — it’s go time!

The associates leading Front Desk at Phillips Edison & Co.’s booth at ICSC LAS VEGAS: Allison Lembright, Amber Roberts and Patti Kluever

8 AM-1 PM: No rest for the wicked. I spend my morning greeting our guests and leading them to my associates for meetings. I help answer any questions people have about our company and who may be available for a quick impromptu meeting. While this may not sound like it would be busy, I am one of the first people who people see when they enter our booth. It is my job to be a knowledgeable representative of PECO. I make sure our catering is being fulfilled, most notably making sure we have enough water and coffee, our flip-flop display is getting replenished and our marketing materials are being taken. When I have a chance to look back at our booth, I make sure it is looking its best: chairs are pushed in, tables are cleared and any mint wrappers are picked off the ground. Once those things are done, I create and schedule any social media posts and stories to create more foot traffic to our booth. Throughout the morning, I check in with my Cincinnati team via text to answer any questions they may have as they get their work done there. While I may be busy here, they are just as busy holding down the fort at the office.

Lembright talks about the company with new connections at the company’s booth.

Lembright talks with an ICSC LAS VEGAS attendee about his company’s app.

1-1:30 PM: Much needed lunch break! There are three of us at the Front Desk, so we take turns with our lunch breaks in the workroom.

1:30-5 PM: Everyone has been fed and is ready to tackle Day 1’s afternoon meetings. If associates are between meetings, I go around asking if they need any assistance, whether that is looking at the floor plan for their next meeting place or helping them print any papers they may need. Much of the afternoon is similar to the morning, where I answer questions about PECO and lead guests into our booth.

Lembright and Phillips Edison & Co. director of national accounts for the West Brian Sheehan, who also hosts the company’s Retail Intel podcast.

5:30 PM: Day 1 is a wrap! I make sure the booth is cleaned from the day and everything we had out on our front desk has been put into cabinets ready for tomorrow. It’s time to head to dinner.

6 PM: A new marketing connection reserves a table for us at Spago in Bellagio. We have a beautiful view of the Fountains, and we pause our conversation each time they go off — we don’t see them every day, so we take it all in and appreciate our time to relax and network.

9 PM: Dinner ends and I go back to my hotel to prep for the next day.

Ashley Selers: Monday, May 20

5 AM: Early bird gets the worm. Started off my morning by working out to wake up and get mentally prepared for the long day ahead.

7:30 AM: Made our way over the South Hall at the convention center — it’s go time!

8 AM: Met with a grocer to finalize a new opportunity at an existing site in Texas.

8:30 AM: Reconnected with two of my favorite brokers out of DFW. Learned about a new fitness group they are growing nationally. Excited to take a fitness class the next time I am in DFW.

9 AM: First trek over to Central Hall. On my way, stopped to give a quick hug to a retail broker I saw in passing,

9:30 AM: Chased down by a friend and broker representing a movie theater group. The box office has been slow at the beginning of the year and movies continue to get pushed back for later this summer. While sales are down, learned that Q3 and Q4 are going to bring the lift that they desperately need to see in order to survive. Since COVID, several theaters have gone under and filed for bankruptcy. The industry continues to make changes and take hits with streaming.

10 AM: Discussed outparcel opportunities with a bank about a site in West Texas.

10:30 AM: Connected with the real estate manager and local broker about a 25K opportunity on a pad site for a national retail store where I am a frequent shopper! Personally, deals hit a little closer home and add some excitement when you are a customer yourself!

11 AM: Got my steps in going back to South Hall. Before heading back to the PECO booth, made a pit stop at a national retailer’s booth to discuss a consent. Putting faces to names always helps! Even if you are meeting someone via Teams or Zoom, turn your camera on — having that human connection is key in this industry and makes a difference.

11:30 AM: Learned about the 99 Cent Store bankruptcy and the flash sale taking place later in the week.

12 PM: Informed a deal is dead for the time being but performed a PECO portfolio review to see if we could strike up another deal. We found interest in a site in Georgia, so that meeting ended better than it started!

12:30 PM: Grabbed lunch at our booth and met with the new parent company of my absolute favorite fitness groups. If you know, you know!

Selers at one of many meetings during ICSC LAS VEGAS

1 PM: Communication got crossed and had to run from one end of South Hall to the other (thankfully it wasn’t Central) to discuss another new development for an anchor tenant. Pretty sure this is a frequent stop during my weekend errands — any guesses on the soft goods retailer?!

1:30 PM: Learned more about this exploding new sport called pickleball. Pickleball is the latest craze since COVID, and it is a sport the entire family can play. There are a handful of Pickleball groups expanding nationally. Most seem to be franchised groups. Each has a different membership structure, but the group we met with has a waiting list to join! Be on the lookout for a pickleball court coming soon to you!

2 PM: Met with a national brokerage group out of New York to discuss a portfolio review.

2:30 PM: Provided an update on lease comments for an anchor tenant coming to a property in Texas. New developments take time and patience! 2nd year in a row we’ve met in Vegas to try and get this deal going.

2:45 PM: UPS stopped by the booth to say hello! Quick catch up on corporate taking back territories and how they are continuing to expand by opening another 75 locations by the end of the year.

Selers had 27 meetings booked for the Las Vegas Convention Center.

3 PM: Learned about the growth New Mexico is currently seeing. We are down to one space in our New Mexico portfolio, and we are eager to get this leased!

3:30 PM: Introduced our senior leadership team to a new anchor tenant coming to one of our sites. Learned about the company history, growth plans and what is to come for our site regarding the lease.

4 PM: Met with two DFW brokers to learn about what clients they are representing and where that can fit within our vacancy in the Metroplex. Following up with them regarding their breakfast client for our site in North Dallas.

4:45 PM: Head back to hotel to get ready for more networking events.

5-6 PM: Shower and put Band-Aids on my feet to make it through the night. No matter how many people tell you to wear comfy shoes, I seem to manage to push through the pain and look good while doing it. My feet might not agree!

6-7 PM: Attend a cocktail party at the Cosmopolitan thrown by a law firm.

7-8 PM: Stop by a peer’s party where I saw DFW brokers, former colleagues, and made new connections. Left the party with my sides hurting from laughter — truly one of the best feelings!

8:30-10 PM: Dinner with our West team as well as a hair salon chain real estate manager at the Wynn. Good company, good food and an incredible view!

Selers and colleagues had dinner with Great Clips real estate manager Joel Strause.

11 PM: Vince Vaughn spotting at the hotel bar! Also spotted a broker I recently did a deal with in New Mexico! We discussed their grand opening and got a peak into their sales during the first month! So far so good for this test market.

12:30 AM: Called it a night and get ready for Day 2!

Allison Lembright: Tuesday, May 21

5 AM: Good morning, Day 2!

7 AM: I make my way back to the South Hall to get our booth ready for another busy day of meetings and making connections. 

7:30 AM: I have breakfast at our booth with a few early associates. I am able to ask how their first days went and catch up on what they did that evening. I love hearing everyone talk about what restaurants and parties they went to — everyone’s energy is so impressive. 

8-10 AM: Much like Day 1, I stand at the front desk of our booth to facilitate questions and direct guests into our booth.

10 AM: I meet with Buildout to see what new improvements they made to their platform. I schedule all my meetings for Day 2 so I can focus more on my associates on Day 1.

11 AM: I meet with C2 Marketing to discuss new ideas and strategies.

12 PM: Lunch is ready, so I make sure our team knows and grabs a sandwich before their next meeting.

1-3 PM: The afternoon is lighter as attendees wrap their meetings and head to the airport. I continue to make sure our booth is in tiptop shape, always presentable for new connections to be made. My associates start to head to the airport or back to the hotel, so I say my goodbyes and “see you soons.”

3 PM: I have been leading the coordination of our ICSC booths for the past five years, and I have booth-packing down to a science. Each year, I make it more efficient getting things packed and labeled for the NY show, where we take our Front Desk build, or if it can be kept in storage until needed for the regional shows like ICSC@FLORIDA, ICSC@SOUTHEAST and ICSC@WESTERN). My flight isn’t until midnight that evening, so I am able to take some time to myself after the show ends — like seeing a movie at the Sphere!

Ashley Selers: Tuesday, May 21

5 AM: Alarm goes off.

5:30 AM: Headed to the hotel gym. Never have I been more excited to put on tennis shoes at the crack of dawn! My feet felt like they were walking on clouds after being in heels all day. I know some of you think I am crazy for this, but it’s worth it to me.

6:30 AM: Picked up a very large and needed coffee before returning to my room to shower and pack my bags.

8 AM: Crammed our team’s luggage into an Uber and headed over to South Hall. Sun was shining and we knew it was going to be a productive but quick day.

9 AM: Finally put faces to names when meeting with the Swig team. Swig is headquartered in our backyard of Utah. We’ve successfully completed three deals with the group and continue to find new opportunities to discuss. Grabbed a lovely selfie to send to a friend in the industry, as well!

9:30 AM: Discussed lease comments with a national paint store regarding a deal we have working in Texas. The broker also brought additional team members to discuss other growing franchises that they are representing. Good portfolio review to see what our next deal will look like together!

10 AM: Received praise for coordinating my outfit with my iPad case. For those that don’t know me, I am a perfectionist, but even I didn’t realize this! Aside from my outfit choices, we dove into how we can relocate a national specialty retail company out of a mall to our center.

10:30 AM: Connected with brokers out of California to go over their tenant rep list. I am new to the California market, so it was great to get a pulse on the market while talking to these two local brokers.

11 AM: If I had to choose between doughnuts or bagels for the morning, I’d go with bagels hands down! Met with the parent company of Einstein Bagels to learn about their new store layout and what sites we have in our portfolio that would be a good fit.

11:30 AM: Bonded over my love for group fitness classes with a city official in Texas! Best way to start a meeting is discussing one of my hobbies. Outside of our small talk, we discussed upcoming renewals at the center and how the city can help with our search on backfilling an anchor tenant at the site.

12 PM: A blast from the past stopped by our booth for a quick chat. Love when you run into an old college friend and can connect with the past and present world!

12:30 PM: Grabbed lunch at our booth with a broker out of Kansas. We recently executed a deal for an outparcel at one of our sites in the state, so we celebrated over some well-deserved food to keep us fueled for the remaining time at the show!

1 PM: Negotiated with a regional tenant that has locations in six states out West.

1:30 PM: Traveled down to South Hall lower to discuss a portfolio review with a retailer who sells items below a certain price point. We’ve done a handful of deals with this group lately and always looking to see where we can do another deal together.

2 PM: Experienced my first no-show of the conference! Finally gave me some time to breathe and walk to a neighboring booth to say hello to an industry friend I had been playing phone tag with!

2:30 PM: Took a group picture with city officials in Texas before we discussed major improvements about to take place at one of our sites. The city is excited about the improvements planned in the upcoming months.

3 PM: Run over to the front of our booth to grab a pair of our flip-flops! I am not blessed with coordination, but I did a little dance and jig to celebrate the end of ICSC Vegas! My feet were finally released from the pain of high heels. If you are ever in need of more comfortable shoes, don’t forget to stop by PECO’s booth! We have you and your feet covered!

3:30 PM: Headed to the airport to return home! As we took off on our flight, I finally had a sigh of relief that the show was over: 27 booked meetings and a handful more of spontaneous meetings throughout two days. Hands down this was one of the best ICSC Vegas shows I had in my career. Until next time, see you soon Vegas!

Selers, right, before she swapped heels for flip-flops. Colleagues with her from left to right are senior leasing professional Josh O’Toole, senior director of leasing Marissa Visconsi and vice president of leasing for the West Vasili Lyhnakis.

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