Ticket-buying fans have long been at the center of the sports business ecosystem. These are the valued customers that invest their time and money to attend a game – despite the inconveniences – rather than engaging in the minimal effort required to watch the contest on television. To sports teams, the most important fans of all are the season ticket holders, the highly valued consumers who commit a significant amount of their disposable income and discretionary time to attending most, if not all, of a club’s home games. Sports marketing executives understand that these essential “super fans” engage with their brand outside of the stadium as well: watching or streaming away games; voicing opinions on social media, message boards, and apps; and wearing their favorite players’ jerseys on non-game days.
They recognize that their very best customers also consider themselves to be an integral part of the team experience every day of the year, so much that teams no longer refer to them as season ticket holders, but rather, as season ticket members. As membership confers certain privileges, this select group is often offered first rights to playoff tickets, invited to special member-only festivals and functions, and allowed to participate in meet and greet opportunities with the players and virtual chats with the coaches. Membership in any community can be sticky and a source of pride. Members have common needs, and fulfilling those needs builds an identity that is both self-reinforcing and self-perpetuating.
Tenants are the commercial real estate industry’s end-users, and with increasing options on where they may work on any given day, the choices they make are going to play an increasingly important role in the ultimate success of our businesses. Because we want them to choose to work in our buildings the most often, the CRE industry is migrating to investing a greater emphasis on the quality of the tenant experience – and in a larger sense – the vitality of our building community. Like sports fans, tenants do not stop being part of our community when they are outside of our building. Through a combination of physical and digital touchpoints, we can continue to add value to their work experience around the clock, across the calendar, and virtually anywhere they are working. We can make the relationship more sticky and resilient by reimagining them as tenant community members who can derive a diverse range of benefits because they are active participants in our community.
Psychologists David McMillan and David Chavis characterize the concept of membership as possessing five common attributes: boundaries, emotional safety, a sense of belonging and identification, personal investment, and a common symbol system. We can transform the experiences we deliver to our tenants – and how we do so – by considering each one of these key characteristics.
The first – boundaries – can be defined as the qualities and experiences that separate members from those who are non-members. Although it is a simple concept, it is profound in its potential impact on the tenant experience. What differentiates a tenant being a part of our building community from those working in another building? How do we present and manifest the personal and professional benefits of membership in our distinct tenant community? What services, conveniences, and values do tenants enjoy by virtue of being one of our members? Is our in-building experience – accessible only to tenant members and their guests – better to that of other office buildings? In what ways is working in our space superior to working remotely? The greater and more defined the boundaries and benefits of being a member of our tenant community as opposed to those of a non-member, the greater the sense of belonging and connection to our building.
The second determinant of membership – emotional safety – is particularly relevant in today’s post-COVID era. Does the tenant truly feel like “my building cares about me?” In addition to working hard behind the scenes to provide tenants with a safe environment, do we take more visible and palpable steps to protect their health and safety? Do we demonstrate through the experiential benefits enjoyed by membership in our building community – from on-site services to on-line conveniences and content – that we care about them and what is important to them even when they are not physically in our building? Does tenant membership add value to their workday, every day, in ways that proactively demonstrate how much we pursue meeting their needs, exceeding their expectations, and helping to solve their problems?
Encouraging and enhancing an environment in which our tenants feel safe and valued can help build a strong sense of community and promote a perception of membership that provides exclusive work- and life-enhancing experiential advantages. This can be remarkably powerful in reinforcing the loyalty of our tenants. We’ll dig even deeper into the privileges and benefits of membership in next month’s installment of Frank Talks.
Frank Supovitz, an award-winning experience designer, producer, event organizer, and author, has played a leading role in the success of such world-class properties as the Super Bowl, the Indy 500, and the South Street Seaport in New York City. A respected global thought-leader in sports, entertainment, and facilities management, he brings more than three decades of expertise to the HQO Team as a senior consultant for Tenant Experience. Contact HQO to put our Tenant Experience team to work for you.