The commercial real estate world is collectively progressing, thanks in part to the continued integration of technology at all levels of the industry and across all property types. While the real estate sector is not known as an early adopter when it comes to digital transformation, the industry has an opportunity to draw upon lessons learned from other industries that embraced technology to build personalization, improve operating efficiencies, and deploy environmentally-friendly solutions.
The pandemic underscored the need for all facets of commercial real estate (CRE) to embrace technology. Initially, the CRE sector adopted tech solutions simply to protect the business by maintaining ongoing operations in a remote capacity. Over time, CRE owners and occupiers realized the value of imparting a hospitality approach to corporate real estate.
Hospitality is so much more than providing a physical product, it’s the business of making people feel welcome. As Maya Angelou once stated: “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
A timeless statement that still resonates truth.
Creating inviting environments layered with curated experiences that are executed expertly by a well-trained staff can produce a multitude of benefits. Creating an impactful employee experience has never been more important. Companies have a glaring opportunity to foster hospitality-driven work cultures that support their employees and promote self-worth, belonging, and a sense of ownership in the process. Differentiation can no longer rely on design and service alone, but through every touch point and experience. This is why the future of commercial real estate has moved to the intersection of hospitality and technology.
What I’ve Learned
At HqO, we see every interaction as an opportunity to deliver excellence. It’s the main reason why I joined the organization. I can reflect and reach into the 20 plus years of hospitality, real estate, and technology experience I have and apply all those learnings into my work, everyday.
I learned the hospitality approach at a very young age when my grandmother opened a bar in the 70s, aptly named “Greg’s Inn.” She was a master at making people feel welcome. The bar was nothing special to look at, but the environment that she created was unparalleled. Sure, sometimes she chased people out with a baseball bat, but for the well-behaved patrons, she consistently created a memorable experience. She would tell me, “Don’t judge a book by its cover, remember their names and ask questions. People love to talk about themselves.”
Pretty sage advice for a preschooler to unpack.
I can relate these memories and learnings to the term “experience economy.” It is not an amorphous construct, but is as real an offering as any service, good, or commodity. The term was coined in 1998 by Joseph Pine II, a best-selling author focused on experience research. He defined the importance of focusing on consumer experiences: “From now on, leading-edge companies, whether they sell to consumers or businesses, will find that the next competitive battleground lies in staging experiences.”
25 years later, the experience economy is more relevant than ever. “A survey of almost 2,000 business professionals found that for 46% of respondents, experience is a top priority for the next five years. It also said that 86% of buyers would pay a premium for a good experience. An interesting prediction was that by 2020, customer experience would overtake product and price as the key brand differentiator. If we didn’t know it already, this is proof that the experience economy is here.”
And, without a doubt, the single largest enabler of experience is technology.
It facilitates innovation, personalized engagement, granular insight, and next-best recommendations, which are the foundation of benchmark experiences. Additionally, the same survey cited above also explains that “access to technology or investment alone does not guarantee a winning experience. Most often, the human element is the single largest differentiator, coming into play as empathy, engagement, personalization and ‘immersive-ness.’”
Addressing Modern Needs
Ernst & Young surveyed over 100 real estate market participants across the globe, and over two thirds of them said that adopting new technology solutions is a strategic priority. The article goes on to state: “Many real estate organizations today are lacking the fully integrated, end-to-end digital capabilities needed to compete in today’s industry. The benefits of implementing digital strategies are many, including more effective talent recruitment and streamlined compliance and sustainability efforts. It’s important for real estate organizations to utilize their boards to help leverage technology to drive greater long-term value and better decision-making.”
The CRE industry has always been slow in adopting new technologies in comparison to other industries, largely due to underinvestment and skepticism around the value of new tools. However, industry attitudes have shifted, with real estate companies now open to deploying technology solutions because “people recognize that technology can add a lot of value to their business.”
If you ask any CEO what keeps them up at night, the lion’s share of the answers would most certainly be recruiting and retaining talent. As competition for talent increases, prioritizing technology will become a key differentiator for real estate, which is the world’s most important and largest asset class. According to Deloitte, “Many CRE firms are focusing on retrofitting properties and repurposing spaces for alternate uses to maximize value. However, only one-quarter of respondents say their companies are substantially increasing technology investments to bolster portfolio and asset management capabilities.”
Technology — coupled with a hospitality approach — is critical to the commercial real estate industry, yet the market is bifurcated between leaders and followers. Leaders are advancing rapidly with well-thought-out technology strategies through which they can begin to improve efficiency, reduce costs, and boost morale.
Taking the Lead with HqO
Strong communities are the heart of successful properties.
The HqO platform enables communications and programming that deliver engaging workplace experiences while elevating the surrounding neighborhood. We know that each user is unique. That’s why we created personalized app experiences for tenants, flex members, and corporate employees. Each of these app experiences can be branded for your asset or workplace and tailored to your specific needs.
In our 2022 Tenant Engagement Report that surveyed over 100 CRE customers across the globe, we uncovered that 54% of properties have staff dedicated to tenant experience; 86% of property teams use a building app to communicate with the people in their properties; and that many investments are being made to differentiate their assets, attract and retain talent, and achieve financial success.
This is where we come in. The HqO Workplace Experience Platform helps drive engagement regardless of the size or diversity of your property or portfolio. Our plentiful native and partner workplace modules come together in a single user-friendly mobile app that can reach tenants, employees, and even communal flex space members.
Interested in joining other leading companies and enhancing your workplace experience? Schedule a consultation with HqO’s workplace experience experts today.