The HqO team just finished hosting EXPERIENCE in New York City, a first-of-its-kind commercial real estate (CRE) event dedicated completely to the tenant experience. If there’s anything I learned in the past few days, it’s this: despite the challenge of running an in-person event in a post-pandemic world, seeing people excited to be together again is, well, fun.
We always talk about how great experiences lead to better collaboration, more meaningful connections, and stronger communities. However, it’s one thing to say that. It’s an entirely different thing to witness that. As our keynote speaker Joseph Pine II so aptly put:
“In an experience economy, experiences are what people want.”
And he couldn’t be more in line with the truth. So, you may be asking: What exactly happened at EXPERIENCE, and what can it teach us about the future of CRE? There’s no better way to answer this question than turning towards the brilliant speakers and guests themselves. Below, we recap the first few sessions of the event and the main takeaways that can help modern property teams enhance their portfolios.
Cultivating Authentic Experiences
There’s no better person to kick off an event about experiences than Joe Pine, best-selling author of The Experience Economy. Joe began his speech by contextualizing our current society: in today’s world, we live in an economy that is fueled by engaging experiences, thus converting experiences into a distinct economic offering.
Using real life examples (like the commoditization of coffee, who doesn’t love that?), he explained that any product can evolve from being a commodity, to a goods and service, to finally into a full experience. This is due to the fact that many businesses have discovered that creating true value for their brand or product revolves around catering directly to consumer wants and needs. And, in order to achieve this, businesses need to go beyond their regular services to create distinct and differentiated end-to-end experiences for their customers.
“Nice is nice, but rarely does it rise to the level of memorable,” he explained. “Experiences are about engaging people and creating that memory inside of them, as well as time well spent.”
Ultimately, this is why consumer-focused brands like Disney, Zappos, and Ritz Carlton have found massive success in their business models. They each give their customers a reason to show up to their physical locations other than just for run-of-the-mill purchases. Of course, they supplement their products and services with an online digital presence, but they also establish a much-needed authenticity through their physical environments.
“Place is important to represent who you are,” Joe shared. “That way, there is no disconnect between what you say and what people actually encounter with your brand.”
Joe wrapped up his speech about the importance of a low-cost, high-volume customization strategy, which allows customers to choose what works for them at any moment in time. This can, of course, all be applied to CRE’s current predicament of bringing tenants and tenant employees back to the workplace by offering more consumer-first, custom experiences. As Joe summarized: “Anything you can digitize, you can customize.”
The Future of the Workplace is Connected Experiences
Next up came our very own CEO, Chase Garbarino, who connected the key points in Joe Pine’s keynote back to our industry and the world of proptech.
First, he looked at the data. Industry research reveals that working remotely has proven a few things to CRE leaders and property teams:
- The workforce doesn’t like commuting
- Employees tend to enjoy the flexibility of working from home
- Employees are experiencing negative side effects of remote work, such as loneliness, depression, and unproductivity
- Employees still like engaging with their colleagues in person
- Some employees take advantage of working remotely and are much less efficient at home
- Innovation is at risk with fully remote workplace models
So what does this all mean when it comes to the future of the office? Though “going digital is now expected,” as Chase explained, the importance of the physical office remains. However, to create value for the physical environment, CRE teams need to offer tenants optionality.
“Our customers want optionality on how, where, and when they work,” Chase continued. “By embracing digital experience, CRE is no longer limited in delivering value at the address of our properties.”
And, better yet, experiences are a key retention and attraction tool when it comes to developing a direct relationship with each and every end-user of your building. The more opportunities you give your tenants to engage with, the more they will engage, which in turn provides you with valuable feedback to continue that engagement and make people feel confident in your brand.
Finally, Chase wrapped up his discussion by announcing important product updates from HqO, as well as how the company’s technologies and services position HqO as the ultimate customer experience company for the industry. As HqO continues its leadership in tenant experience, it will bring value to larger communities by creating destination spaces for tenants, employees, their guests, and surrounding neighborhoods.
The Evolution of Property Management
The third panel of the day consisted of an all-star lineup, featuring Terri-Lynn Mitchell, Senior Managing Director of Asset Services at Cushman & Wakefield; Chris Masotto, Vice President of Property Management at Columbia; Kayte Singleton, Associate Property Manager at Rubenstein Partners; and Thomas Larance, Head of Experience Management at JLL.
Terri-Lynn began the conversation by diving into the question on everyone’s minds: How has property management changed over the years?
“We’re definitely heading towards more community and hospitality trends,” Chris stated. “I see it already happening today, and well into the future.”
All panelists agreed, while Thomas discussed how these trends inform JLL’s industry research when it comes to providing consumer-first experiences: “We consistently look at how things in the marketplace are changing, navigating the different generations, their usage of technology, and more.”
Shortly after, the panelists switched the topic to discuss successful, custom property experiences while recognizing that, of course, everyone’s definition of success varies. “We take a bespoke approach, it’s not going to be the same at every asset,” confirmed Thomas.
Kayte Singleton agreed. “Ten years ago, you had to do ice cream socials during certain seasons,” she chimed. “Now each property is so vastly different and we need to ask tenants what they’re looking for and what they’d like for us to do to allow us to run programs tenants want.”
The group also expressed the importance of asking every member of their building communities how they can be successful. This is no easy feat, but technology makes feedback significantly more feasible. “It’s not just the tenants, it’s the brokers and their employees and everyone else,” Chris explained. “The utilization of the [HqO] app allows us to connect with tenants and their staff. It’s not just a certain group of people who have access to the app, every building member does. It allows everyone to see first hand what’s going on in our building.”
They wrapped up their panel by talking about how technology creates operational efficiencies, while helping CRE teams remain adaptable and flexible to combat the ebbs and flows of the market. As Kayte explained:
“We invest in technologies that are going to make our operations more efficient. They’re going to make the tenant experience better first and foremost, but also save property managers valuable time.”
Looking for more about EXPERIENCE? Tune in next week for Part II, where we cover the rest of the panelists and share more photos from our event! If you want to learn more about HqO, schedule a consultation today.