Starwood Retail Partners’ Live 360° customer engagement program, which enlists the aid of the community in programming events at its properties, won the first-ever World Retail Award for “Best Customer Experience Initiative–Mall Owners,” presented at World Retail Congress conference, held this year April 17 through 19 at the Marriott Auditorium in Madrid.
The World Retail Awards annually recognize the best retailers and retail initiatives globally across a wide range of categories, with Starwood's category being presented for the first time. Starwood was the only North American finalist for the prestigious award. Other finalists hailed from the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, China, the Philippines and the U.K., with the winner selected by a grand jury consisting of outstanding retail leaders from around the globe.
"It is a thrill to see the global retail community recognize the hard work and creativity of our teams," said Laurie Paquette, senior vice president of property management at Starwood, who accepted the award. "The other finalists presented extraordinary events and programs, and all of us at Starwood tip our hats to them, as well. This is a testament to the innovative work being done worldwide to engage our guests wherever they are."
The Live 360° program helps centers directly and authentically engage with their customers, allowing the projects to recapture their role as cultural leaders in their communities. Starwood and New York-based guest experience consultant Riley Group Inc. worked with urban revitalization specialists and held community workshops to solicit ideas for the program. Each Starwood site hosts community workshops and scouts for local talent to feature at upcoming events. These activities occur in a variety of areas across the centers, including common areas and unleased retail space.
In 2017, Starwood piloted the program at two properties: The Mall at Wellington Green in Wellington, Fla. and Great Northern Mall in North Olmsted, Ohio, with both projects focused on wellness and art programming. Passionate locals taught classes ranging from children’s yoga to indoor vertical gardening. Other activities, such as adult art and a local green market, were also held. The centers continue to host activities, working with over 30 community partners to showcase the weekly events.
With the success of the pilot programs, Live 360° is being integrated throughout Starwood’s portfolio throughout 2018, evolving the centers into community cores that are the hearts of their markets.
"The owners of retail properties have long said that their projects really belong to their communities," said Chelsie Petereit, CMD, Starwood vice president of marketing. "Live 360° makes that a reality. These are programs that are created by the community to suit their wants and needs. I'm ecstatic that the World Retail Awards recognized these efforts.”