To the Point

New Names, New Spaces

What lessons can we learn from outside our industry?

The holiday season is officially here. Yes, for real — not like back in October, when many retail stores tried to get us in the mood. Whether you celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah, or Kwanzaa this month, chances are you’ve been making a list or two — a party or dinner invite list, a shopping list, probably a packing list, and then the giant to-do list.

So, in the spirit of the season, I’ve got another list for you to mull over. No, I won’t burden you with my shopping list. But here’s a collection of recent lessons and idea hacks from outside the business-events world that have me thinking. Can you apply any of these to your events?

REBRANDING GOES A LONG WAY. After just two months, Coca-Cola’s new name and sleeker packaging for Coke Zero (now Coke Zero Sugar) caused sales to jump. In fact, U.S. sales of the drink are growing twice as fast as they were earlier this year. The ingredient list remains the same, and the company said it only slightly “tweaked” the blend of natural flavors.

REINVENTED SPACE. A store is for selling things, right? The new Apple Store in downtown Chicago represents a new generation of retail, in which the company embraces the fact that selling is only a small part of what they aim to do there. Instead, CEO Tim Cook told Chicago TV reporter Charlie Wojciechowski, “our stores are about service, supporting customers, being a place where people can discover and explore our products and education…. A place where people can connect.”

REINVENTED SPACE, PART II. Many department stores are bigger than currently needed, and the real-estate investment company that owns hundreds of Sears and Kmart properties is experimenting with reusing space to improve bottom lines and drive traffic to stores. Some projects include adding other small retail tenants, but a particularly interesting one in Austin, Texas, and the Chicago suburbs involves leasing some store space to AMC to build movie theaters.

SOMETIMES IT’S ABOUT EASING THE PAIN. It’s no secret that Amazon is currently crushing the competition in sales. But instead of resting on its laurels, the company keeps coming up with new ways to reinvent online purchasing.

Amazon recently announced a new program to help make deliveries that “disappear.” Amazon Key includes a smart lock and security camera that allow delivery people temporary access inside your home to drop o packages, rather than leaving them outside on your doorstep. It might not catch on, but they’re trying.

EVEN AFTER YOU PULL THE PLUG, YOU CAN KEEP SOME ELEMENTS AROUND. Oprah Winfrey ended her namesake television show in 2011, despite its incredible popularity, so she could focus on new projects. But the recent buzz around her 2017 “Oprah’s Favorite Things” gift-giving list — which had been a highly anticipated part of her TV show — demonstrates her continued influence. Oprah’s empire remains strong these days through a magazine, cable channel, speaker series, and more.

Deborah Sexton

Deborah Sexton is president and CEO of PCMA.