Big thinking, Big audiences - Westfield's Big breakfast seminars!

Westin Hotel Sydney - with a near 1,000 breakfast audience
The Westfield 2011 Breakfast Seminar series was another outstanding success. Appealing to anyone involved in retail, it sold out in all 5 cities across Australia this September.

It is clear Westfield, a global giant of shopping centre development and management, is setting the bar uncompromisingly high in the fight for today's increasingly savvy customer. And Jack Hanrahan, boss of Retailer Relations at the company's global HQ in Sydney, was equally determined to create an action-packed, information-packed, 2 hour presentation format. Breakfast started sharp at 7am with each seminar finishing precisely at 9.35am allowing everyone to be at their place of work with minimal disruption to their day. Jack brought together three speakers covering a host of issues focussing on global thought leadership relevant to retailing in general and the Australian market in particular.

Opening the seminar and having fun with audience participation! 

From my new book, 'The art of being chosen', I was delighted to open each seminar by sharing some of its secrets for business and retail success. With case studies from around the world , my narrative focused on developing the right corporate mindset for best practice customer engagement. From the USA, I was followed by Mike Lundgren, one of the most insightful digital strategy gurus I've ever met...he'd truly forgotten more about his subject than I'd ever dreamt existed. Each breakfast seminar was concluded by Jon Bird, founder of Australia's Ideaworks - he took the audience on a whistle stop retail tour of the planet, highlighting and explaining new and innovative retail thinking and experiences - totally amazing, totally engaging, the man's a creative retail encyclopedia!

I'm impressed by Westfield.
But there are many who are not! Not least the tenants finding the rents in these difficult trading conditions a heavy burden. But I'm impressed by Westfield's overall endeavour to create a differentiated shopper experience and their absolute passion to deliver quality footfall for the tenants. Impressed by their 'behind the scenes' commitment to exceeding shoppers' expectations - from sourcing world class design specialisms to state of the art security systems. I'm also particularly impressed by one of their new initiatives, a retail incubator called: '100 square'. It's dedicated to helping different, sometimes radical, start-up retailers find their feet, eloquently answering  the ever-present criticism of homogenised shopping opportunities in towns and cities around the world. And Jack Hanrahan's department runs a host of education programmes designed to help established retailers maximise the opportunities offered by the high traffic flows in Westfield centres. I'm also impressed by the experiential direction of the food offering in Westfield's recent developments. Take the newly opened central Sydney mall for example (featured here), where I didn't feel there was one piece of 'retail theatre'....and for me that's good, very good.... because theatre implies acting! Instead I enjoyed a wonderful offering of truly authentic food 'options' from every corner of the world, catering to every palate...even happening across food to 'feed the soul' and a classroom of foodies!

Jack Hanrahan was the master of ceremonies and huge congratulations to him and Robyn Burgess for delivering a wonderfully focused, wonderfully cogent breakfast seminar for each city. From the positive feedback it is clear he achieved his ambition of exceeding the audience's expectation. Hardly surprising for this experienced global retail executive - he cut his teeth by delighting his customers in the rough, tough, unforgiving world of value fashion retailing and that's easier said then done!

Some really Big thinking, delivered Big time and on time - well done Jack!