US Study Tour Testimonials
SYDNEY BASED NATIONAL CLIENT
“One of the greatest benefits of undertaking this particular study tour was both the facilitators and the group.
Having Michael Baker lead the journey with all his industry contacts along with his intimate understanding and
critical views of the retail property sector in The States was invaluable. Couple this with Ian Shimmin, who
would have to be one of the leading economic researchers in the sector, made for some interesting and
The group itself was diverse ranging in background from management skill base, valuers, architects,
development and asset managers again providing the forum for debate from a number of perspectives.
The group saw a number of centres ranging from success to failure which has ultimately provided a great base
for ideas and has certainly influenced the rigour to which we have assessed the ongoing management of our
And by the way – it was an educational trip of a lifetime for me!”
AUSTRALIAN RETAIL ARCHITECT
“The Urbis 2007 US Retail tour was of fantastic value. The insightful background knowledge, local networking
and access to the people that matter, un-biased reviews and analysis coupled with a group of like minded
people made the trip. In two and half weeks we worked through 30+ centres and three states.
Urbis is to be congratulated not only on the logistical issues but more so on their selection of relevant material
and ability to gel the team together, finding the right balance of research and review.
It didn't feel like work, but we certainly returned with an in depth understanding of the retail market in the US,
local and international contacts, plenty of memories and heaps of ideas, thoughts, and threads to work through
in the on coming years.
Thank you for a great trip, I'd recommend it to anyone in the shopping centre game.”
SYDNEY BASED NATIONAL CLIENT
“The Urbis Retail Study Tour 2007 presented a fantastic opportunity to witness first-hand the emergent trends
in US retail. Of particular interest from an Australian perspective was the emergence of open-air power
centres, and the mixed use products combining retail, commercial and residential components. The itinerary
was well thought through, the organisation excellent, and the participants were from diverse property
backgrounds ensuring a range of perspectives on the centres visited and their relevance to the Australian
PERTH BASED NATIONAL CLIENT
“On behalf of … and myself I would like to convey our congratulations to Urbis for organising the Sunbelt Retail
Tour and to state that we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves on the trip. It was informative, technical, diversified and
presented in a very relaxed and friendly atmosphere. Michael Baker seemed to know everyone worth knowing
on the tour and he certainly managed to get sensitive information out of the retailers that would be almost
impossible here in Australia.
Ian Shimmin and Michael Baker worked very well together and were always willing to give up their time after a
visit to a shopping mall or centre, to explain the finer details of what we had just experienced. They made
everybody fell very welcome and helped create great camaraderie amongst those of us who participated.
I would have no hesitation in recommending the tour to anyone who has a strong interest in the workings of
major retailing operations in the United States”.
“The Urbis tour provided a great insight into retailing in the US. It was a well rounded focus - giving an insight
into the drivers for the market, various design aspects and trends, the performance of centres and their
catchments via Urbis's demonstrated knowledge and relationships. Travelling with industry peers provided
great opportunities for discussion and sharing of knowledge on the various aspects and centres visited. An
invaluable learning experience.”
“I recently participated in a tour of selected US shopping centres organized by Michael Baker and Ian Shimmin
at Urbis. Not only did all who attended have a great time, I found it extremely informative.
Michael and Ian chose significant and/or relevant centres that gave a broad view of the market in the US and
were able to quote many facts and figures that would not have been available to the participants had they
visited as individuals. Further, at the majority of centres, we were escorted by the centre management team
who were able to answer many of our questions regarding operations and development.
From a personal perspective the advantages of travelling with a group of like minded industry peers simply
cannot be overstated.
I would highly recommend participation in future tours to all interested parties and certainly intend to join
another tour in the future.”
“I found the trip to be well organised, educational, extremely enjoyable and lead by two great guys who
provided a perfectly balanced study tour.”
"The well coordinated study tour with good selected malls is a great learning experience. The tour give good
insights of the performance of shopping centres in US, especially open air shopping malls. The dialogue with
the management of malls was also extremely useful as it facilitated greater understanding on the operation of
“In 2006 I joined the Urbis US retail study tour focusing on “lifestyle” centres in San Francisco and Los Angeles,
culminating at the Los Vegas annual spring retail convention. The tour clearly highlighted differences between
Australian and US retailing and show cased some fantastic mixed use open air or “lifestyle” centres in regions
with climatic similarities to Perth where I live and work.
Over the 2 week tour we visited some 20-25 centres with representatives of the centre in most instances
providing a guided tour and commentary, including behind the scenes previews of current redevelopment
stages on some properties.
Michael Baker and Sue Say provided insightful and relevant information on the retail markets, the major
retailers, market trends and changes and skippered the tour very well, including tips on good eating and
drinking spots. All up a very informative tour and a great time had. I certainly recommend to others involved in
the retail industry that it is well worth the time and expense.”
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MELBOURNE BASED NATIONAL CLIENT
"From the moment we assembled in San Francisco, I knew the Urbis US Study Tour was going to be a good
one. Our introduction to our tour leader, Michael Baker, was in the bar of our stylish Japanese inspired hotel,
and it quickly became apparent that Michael had a vast knowledge of retail, particularly in the States where he
had worked for the International Council of Shopping Centres for some years as their research head. In
addition, his dry sense of humour, consideration, flexibility and excellent contacts within the industry greatly
assisted the extraction of value and enjoyment from the trip. Sue Say, of Urbis ably assisted Michael, and
complemented his skills and understanding with her own well informed views of the world.
Our fellow travellers, similarly, had significant expertise in the retail industry, albeit in a broad variety of roles
including development, leasing, centre management, construction and asset management. Visits to centres
generated much academic debate, tempered by the group's range of real life experiences. Michael added
insights only an insider would have access to, and helped us to understand "Why is it so?".
In between centre tours, and they were many and varied, we spent time in a large, comfortable bus, cruising
the ever sunlit Californian landscape, analysing the latest US retail trends, and frequently planning the
evening’s activities. These took us to some places we probably shouldn't have ventured into (Karaoke bars in
San Fran?) and possibly a bit late at night (24 hour casinos in Vegas) but friendships were forged in the name
of survival, and have endured.
The culmination of the trip, the ICSC conference in Vegas was an eye opener to many - it is the big time -
thousands of delegates, some high powered speakers (Al Gore!), excellent education sessions and amazing
Photos and brochure material collected on the tour were pooled by many of the participants, and formed the
basis of data bases and countless presentations to colleagues back home".
SYDNEY BASED NATIONAL CLIENT
I found the US study tour rewarding from both a networking and design perspective. Taking time out to
undertake study tours where you can stop, absorb and appreciate design and ideas enables you the
opportunity add value to projects with ideas of your own and others.
Besides all that it was good fun.
AUSTRALIAN RETAIL ARCHITECT
"A tour such as this provides a unique insight into how a country renowned for its shopping malls, evolves
within constantly changing consumer demands and associated building and design challenges. Extremely well
put together and with such an impressive range of retail venues to take in, I would certainly recommend
anyone with an interest in retail design to sign up immediately."
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