Building Owners and Managers: Meet Tenants Where They Are

Understatement of the millennium (so far): The ways we communicate with each other have changed. Just look at the sheer volume of activity that occurs within messaging apps in one minute:

– 18 million text messages sent

– 38 million messages shared through WhatsApp

– 25,000 gifs sent via Facebook Messenger

That’s all happening in 60 seconds on these platforms, indicating a massive shift of how people communicate. WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger alone have over 1 billion users each, per month!

Business-oriented messaging platforms like Slack and Skype have become a prime destination for interpersonal connecting and sharing at work. Slack itself has over six million daily active users.

We believe these messaging apps are also the future of tenant communications.

Reaching beyond the SPOC

Commercial Real Estate (CRE) building owners and managers know that communication forms the backbone of any solid tenant relationship.

Increasingly, they’re understanding the need to engage with more building occupants, not just a single point of contact (SPOC) within tenant spaces.

Our research shows that 71% of CRE owners and managers believe that all tenant employees are now their “customers.”

These CRE executives know they need a two-way conversation with these tenant employees: They need to get information out to them, while also gaining insight into their in-building experience so they can deliver better workplaces. But they’re struggling to reach these important stakeholders. According to our Tenant Relationship Management Benchmark Report, a majority of owners and managers have very little insight into overall tenant sentiment beyond their interaction with a SPOC.


Are tenant mobile apps the solution?

In the effort to start this two-way conversation, some CRE firms have turned to a new category of mobile apps centered on “tenant engagement.” Many of these apps perform extremely valuable functions.

For example, Building Engines’ own tenant mobile app – The Hive – enables all the major tenant-y things tenants have to do in a building: service requests, resource reservations, visitor registration, and message delivery.



But when it comes to establishing an ongoing conversational link between buildings and occupants, mobile apps are not the only solution–and they may not be the best. In a recent post, I argue that we have reached “peak app,” with the majority of smartphone users downloading a net of zero apps in the last 30 days and most using fewer than 20 each month. People are adopting and using apps at a slower rate – there is literally not enough real estate on their phones.

Here’s the thing: There are a number of new, cool and really well-designed tenant-engagement apps out there hitting the market. But, it takes a massive effort (not to mention cost) to promote and drive adoption of work-related apps.

It requires:

– an ideal location

– motivated onsite retailers

– a dedicated property team staff member committed to maintaining content

– onsite support by the app provider.

Additionally, it requires significant and continuous changes in end-user behavior.

While specialized apps may have their place under the right circumstances, the shift to conversational apps may require us to take a different approach.


Engage with tenants where they already are

Simply put, you need to be in ALL the places your customers are.

While people are adopting fewer apps, they are spending more time using apps, especially messaging apps. Look at the increase in one-minute activity from 2017 to 2018 via VisualCapitalist:


Add to this picture the fact that chatbots, complete with built-in machine learning, are becoming a normal part of consumer experiences on popular apps like Slack and Facebook Messenger. Just consider these examples:

– You can request a ride from Lyft via Facebook Messenger and Slack

– Spotify makes it easy for customers to search for, listen to, and share music within Facebook Messenger

– Mastercard allows customers to check on account transactions within Facebook Messenger

These consumer brands have realized that they need to engage with tenants where they are already active.

So why not buildings, too?

The near future will require building owners and managers to incorporate more than a tenant app or website to communicate with tenants. Instead, you could start the conversation in a place they are already active. For example, you may try enabling services like answering basic questions, registering visitors, or even reporting problems through a conversational interface.

This type of engagement creates a connection that opens the door to future communication. Building owners and managers could use then share important news and information, or keep a pulse on tenant satisfaction. After all, it is a two-way street.

Tenant communication is changing in CRE thanks to the constant innovation happening on mobile devices and social apps. Keep an open mind towards the future – and embrace this conversational shift.

Headed to Realcomm 2018? 

Meet with the BuildingEngines team to discuss how technology, automation and innovation can help you drive more performance from your CRE properties. We’re ready to share our vision of the future of tenant communications and hope to see you there!