A few years ago, Chase Garbarino met up with Michael Beckerman, the CEO of CREtech, in New York City. They connected instantly, and talked about everything from the emerging tenant experience category to AAU basketball.
Now, as they kick off Season 2 of HqO’s Let’s Go Show podcast together, it’s in the middle of a very different commercial real estate (CRE) landscape compared to before. The pair covers a lot – from how Michael’s started CREtech, to the ways the COVID-19 pandemic has created new demands for property teams and the office — demands which can be addressed through leveraging proptech in meaningful and unique ways.
The Evolution of an Industry
Reflecting on his early days, Michael recalls the first innovators in the market — from JLL to CBRE to Cushman & Wakefield— and how they saw value in investing in technology for their properties from the get-go. These top players set off a domino effect in the industry: “If you go and find those that are adopting early, the rest will follow,” Michael explains.
In their discussion, Chase and Michael make a key distinction between disruption and transformation in the industry. Though some consider the CRE industry as ‘ripe for disruption,’ our host explains why this isn’t a productive mindset. “We didn’t think anything was broken,” Chase says. “Instead, we saw that a transformation of existing opportunities could prove to the market that there’s a lot more value to be captured here.”
That value, as they explain, is dependent on viewing our properties a little differently.
A New Era On The Horizon
The reason why property technology is growing massively in the CRE space is because of new tenant and industry needs — proving that great workplace experiences haven’t yet reached their full potential.
While changes at work existed before the global pandemic, COVID-19 has served as a technology accelerator to meet modern demands. Michael contemplates this swift adoption, noting that the pandemic was “a real marker of when things changed.”
In addition, the two discuss the industry’s shift towards strategic brand-building and experiences. Landlords are now looking at how they can gain a competitive advantage in the market, and establish their company as a tech-enabled hospitality brand by staying connected with the people in their buildings no matter where they work — and by offering technologies that provide memorable and engaging office environments.
All in all, the whole CRE mindset is evolving. We’re witnessing a perfect storm of progress: external drivers such as the changing nature of work and increased power in the hands of tenants and employees are pushing companies to innovate faster than ever before and hone in on what tenants really want out of a workplace. As Michael considers this episode, “Has there ever been a time when the nature of work has been so dissected, analyzed, surveyed, and questioned?”
Indeed, during what other time in history have employees had so much power over their workplace experience? From big tech employees that would rather leave their roles than give up their flexible work schedules, to employers coming up with innovative new ways to entice workers back in the office, there has never been a greater need to step back and consider that the traditional roles of landlords and property teams just won’t cut it anymore.
Experience as a Differentiator
In the midst of all this opportunity, landlords have a chance to build hospitality into their brand. And for good reason: consumer-first experiences have successfully created new opportunities in other industries, and are becoming a necessity in retaining and attracting modern office tenants.
As Michael points out, technology is not the end-all-be-all: experiences will serve as the true differentiators for your assets. The commercial office building can no longer be seen as a commodity, nor by its physical location.
Hospitality-focused, service-driven models allow tenants to book space and access shared resources on an as-needed basis — thus eliminating restrictions typically associated with the office like long-term leases and being tied to a single building or location.
In this way, technology has become a key value driver for modern, flexible work experiences. Leveraging the right technology gives building communities more choice in how and where they work. As a landlord, this kind of interaction will increase satisfaction in your building’s workplace experience, open up additional revenue streams, and strengthen your overall brand.
- Understand the role of hospitality-first experiences in modern commercial real estate portfolios.
- Learn how to successfully navigate the process of adopting digital tenant experience solutions.
On Today’s Episode
Chase Garbarino, CEO and Co-Founder at HqO, the only end-to-end operating system for commercial office buildings.
Michael Beckerman, CEO at CRETech Climate and CRETech, the largest international community of professionals devoted to technological innovation in the real estate sector.