Insights

Why CRE landlords need a tenant engagement strategy

May 13, 2021

Supported by a suite of integrated technologies – including an online communications platform – owners can create vibrant communities that transcend place. A good communications strategy has the power to inform, entertain and inspire users, whether they are working from home or in-office.

At Equiem, we think of good communication as a facet of traditional customer service. If it is true that first-rate customer service forms long-lasting relationships – and if it is also true, as Dror Poleg suggests, that offices are destined to become consumer products, centred on the desires of the individual – then a good communications strategy is a vital quotient in transforming a commercial real estate asset into a brand from which the tenants of tomorrow will want to buy.

“You have to adapt your product to a very specific type of customer, and go all-in on them”, Poleg says. “The people at the top will be those that have a brand, that have their own distribution, that resonate with their customers, that have some sort of relationships that mean something.”

Content, when coupled with a tenant experience platform, emulates and extends the human element already present in your building. Every post, every event, and every engagement initiative is an opportunity to build a differentiated brand. Home-working may be convenient, and it may be efficient – but the transformed office HQ can stake its own claim as a key destination for hybrid workers.

Why you need a tenant communication and engagement strategy

Commercial real estate owners are still working through issues caused by COVID-19. When you have to contend with lease forfeitures, shifting cap rates, rent relief requests, and other logistical problems, it can be hard to prioritise technological innovation. 

This reality is echoed by Deloitte in its 2021 Commercial Real Estate Outlook. Owners know that “digital transformation and tenant experience are a business imperative”, but “less than 50% of respondents consider digital tenant experience a core competency of their organization”.

In 2020, we saw many owners employ minimal levels of communication and engagement with their diffused tenant populations. Most sent sporadic check-in emails to tenant representatives, and stopped there. Tenant representatives, busy as they were with the throes of migration to the remote working environment, did not engage adequately with these messages. The silent chasm between owner and tenant rapidly grew. 

As a result, tenant experience platforms exploded in popularity. Users were just as eager to adopt the solutions owners provided. Our own Remote initiative – in which we provided an entire library of content templates, pre-programmed events, and other communication initiatives – effected a 60% increase in content readership from March to June of 2020.

Later that year, our Global Office Tenant Report asked tenants about how their landlords could best support their return to work. Unsurprisingly, the top five responses all concern content and communication capabilities.

When asked, ‘How could your community platform best support your return to the building’, respondents said:

  • Regular updates and notifications about building policies (20%)
  • One place to access up-to-date information about building policies (16%)
  • An easy and quick on-boarding guide for re-entering my building (16%)
  • Information about building occupancy levels (12%)
  • Information about which retailers are open and closed (10%)

It’s not all about hardline updates and emergency memos, however. When asked, ‘What type of content is currently most valuable to you on your community platform’, respondents said:

  • COVID-19 updates about my building (38%)
  • Competitions (14%)
  • Good news stories (14%)
  • Remote-working tips and content (14%)
  • Virtual wellness events (11%)
  • Virtual social and community events (10%)

There you have it: A good, engaging communications strategy comprises content of all types and themes. Without a tenant experience platform, and a diverse offering of content and engagement touchpoints, you struggle against the forces of isolation. 

Tenant users want to interact with you; they want a reason to remain engaged. If properly nurtured, they will become brand advocates. They vote with readership and interactions, and in the new world, it is their vote which matters most.

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