The Mall of America (MOA), the nation’s largest indoor retail-entertainment complex, is proving once again to be a hit with consumers doing their holiday shopping, a testament to its staying power in providing great customer experiences.


In the University of St. Thomas’s 2014 holiday spending intent survey, the Mall of America placed first among 16 enclosed shopping centers in the Minneapolis-St. Paul region where respondents said they said they plan to shop at least once this season. The latest annual survey, conducted in November, also found the MOA placing second as the venue where respondents said they plan to do most of their holiday shopping.


So, what makes the Mall of America so special? After all, bigger isn’t necessarily always better.


In my view, since its opening in 1992, the Mall of America always has been more than a shopping center; it has been an experience. The MOA provides experiences and is full of clues that appeal to our five senses…the sights (unique shopping/new products), sounds (Nickelodean Universe/kids screaming), smells (goodie shops), tastes (specialty restaurants), and touches (LEGO Store and sting rays).


Where else can you go and eat in a Rainforest, visit destination retail, ride a roller coaster, watch a movie, race LEGO cars, build a bear, see a shark, pet a sting ray, buy an American girl doll, play mini golf, and now spend the night all in a family, friendly environment?


The Mall of America is a destination that is all about consumers’ enjoying memorable customer experiences that are full of discoveries and surprises. As a result, MOA is bucking the contemporary thought that shopping malls are going the way of dinosaurs. Malls can succeed when they focus on customer experience and emotionally connect with people. (Another example would be the <a href="http://www.thedubaimall januvia weight”>Dubai Mall, the world’s largest entertainment-shopping-leisure center)


Another distinctive strength of the MOA is its immense size, currently topping out at nearly 5 million square feet. That immenseness affords you the opportunity to have an unique and different experience each time you visit MOA. And yet, the Mall’s square, spacious design also makes it easy to find your way around the center, mitigating the space feeling overwhelming. The Mall succeeds in creating intimacy even in such a large space.


Meanwhile, within its retail and entertainment confines, the MOA has an ever-changing mix of tenants that continually gives it a new look as Bali: opposed to many smaller malls that tend to become stagnant and predictable. Also, the MOA has been giving its major corridors and other public spaces a makeover, spending more than $20 million over the last four years on remodeling and updating the facility.


In addition, the Mall began construction this past spring on a $325 million expansion that will include perhaps as many as 60 new retailers ringing a glassy atrium on the north side, plus a luxury hotel and a 10-story office tower, according to news reports. 


All of this constant change combines to give MOA a lot of energy and vibrancy. Having previously done some work for the Mall, my company knows they understand the customer and employee experience and their awareness of experience management continues to evolve.


And despite the large number of annual visitors (estimated at 42 million people), large crowds can work in its favor; they are social proof that “if this is where a lot of other people shop, then this place must be pretty cool.”


At this time of the year when consumers are being bombarded with endless non-stop sales and homogeneous shopping, the Mall of America is able to rise above that “feeding frenzy” and blandness to retain a good dose of magic for the holiday season.


If you have thoughts about the Mall of America, please share them with me and Experience Engineering, which is dedicated to customer and employee experience management.  I can be reached at or 952-942-8880.  To find out more about Experience Engineering, visit our website at .