Today’s commercial real estate firms face a new emerging set of challenges, and visionaries like the Jamestown Innovation and Design Building (IDB) are reinventing the industry through a relentless focus on tenant experience. At a recent centennial celebration event, Jamestown gave away 100 pairs of Reebok sneakers branded with the IDB logo. The sneakers were sold-out in just seven minutes. What has the team behind the Innovation and Design Building done to turn tenants into raving fans excited to wear their logo?
Consider the fast-changing commercial real estate landscape today. Leases with breakage clauses have grown from 19% in 2002 to nearly 40% in 2018. New workshare models are further disrupting the industry, and Workspace-as-a-Service solutions are stepping in to intermediate the relationships between building owners and tenants.
The profile of tenant stakeholders is also changing. With a new demographic driving the workforce and assuming leadership roles, they’re tech forward, connection driven and experience focused. These values are spilling over into decisions about where companies are based and providing a stronger imperative for commercial realtors to effectively address these values in the leasing process.
The Innovation and Design Building offers a powerful case study for staying competitive in this fast-changing industry, by centering every element of their brand and building management around tenant experience delivered through mobile technology. HqO has partnered to help deliver a piece of the strategy and technology to bring this vision to life.
The Innovation and Design Building is a 1.4-million-square-foot commercial mixed-use, multi-tenant asset located in Boston’s Seaport District. The property is owned and managed by Jamestown. Anchor tenants include world-class brands like Reebok, which bases its global headquarters at the IDB; Mass Challenge, one of the world’s largest startup incubators; and the Boston Design Center, Boston’s premier resource for design professionals.
As home to some of the city’s highest-growth companies and creative talent, Jamestown has developed a space that brings together the area’s top business, design, and experiential brands. Tenants include the backbone of Boston’s innovation economy and represent a broad range of businesses producing physical, digital, and engineered products. IDB is home to makers, designers, architects, communicators, researchers, manufacturers, technologists, innovators, and entrepreneurs.
The building itself offers flexible floor plans, natural light, and high ceilings. To attract TAMI tenants and the cornerstone companies of Boston’s innovation economy, the IDB invested heavily in a number of physical improvements to the property as well as a technology platform to activate those new amenities.
The Tenant Experience Challenge
To attract and retain highly sought-after tenants, Jamestown, like most commercial office owners, invested heavily in amenities for the building. These investments include on-site retail, a fitness center, shuttles, and community events.
But Jamestown needed a way to track which amenities were popular, effectively communicate the offerings to their tenants, and incentivize and promote the on-site and local retail to the tenant population. They partnered with HqO to build a technology solution to streamline communication, activate their amenities, and track data to help them align future investments and effectively serve the ever-changing customer experience needs.
Getting to Know Occupants Through Data and Technology
In a landscape driven by underlying shifts, commercial real estate firms need a strong strategy to compete — and the Jamestown management team recognized that competing successfully can’t be accomplished through amenities alone. Instead, they took the steps needed to own the relationship with their tenants by deeply understanding their most important needs and creating the experiences to fulfill them.
Technology has played a key role in this powerful success story. In a world where mobile phones often have busy professionals’ heads bent down in Slack chats and email conversations, the IDB management team turned technology around and used HqO’s platform to lift those heads back up.
Leading with a tenant-first perspective, Jamestown created a vision and a mission to understand what their tenants needed, and then delivered the solutions to those needs. They optimized the space, addressed challenges their tenants faced, and went above and beyond to deliver value and programming that reinforces the tenant experience at all levels.
HqO’s tenant experience framework focuses on HqO’s pillars of tenant experience (TeX): convenience, entertainment, mobility, security, sustainability, food + beverage, accessibility, and wellness. The IDB team invested heavily in each of these areas, and then used a series of strategies and platform features to activate the value of those investments.
How HqO Works with the Innovation and Design Team
The Innovation and Design partnership kicked off with a series of discovery meetings. During these consultations, the HqO tenant experience team and technology experts worked with Jamestown to understand their most urgent priorities for the property. Jamestown management brought together a multi-disciplinary team from across their organization to represent executive vision, marketing, property management, and asset management to understand tenant experience priorities at all key touch points.
The HqO team used the discovery process to take a deep dive into the goals, current experience, and technology needs. In addition to asking questions and actively listening to the goals for the Innovation and Design building, HqO shared best practices, cutting-edge trends, and key insights on the field of TeX to act as a consultative partner.
The first step was defining a series of goals to drive the customized strategy and software roadmap, as well as set the focus for the collaboration and define the KPIs for success. The IDB’s goal was to make their tenants’ days easier, as well as highlighting their brand and building a strong community.
The effort measured success by looking at factors such as:
- Easing the tenant’s day and gathering direct tenant feedback on what’s working and what else is needed.
- Cost savings options, revenue generation opportunities, and ensuring that investments strategically support the tenant experience.
- Strengthening the IDB brand and fostering strong relationships between owners and tenants — as well as building a larger community.
HqO’s team worked to define a feature set that supported the visions, and behind the scenes the technology team performed due diligence on the integrations package. As every commercial real estate firm knows, there are priority partners and vendors that are essential to running a building. HqO worked to ensure native integrations right in the application for all priority third-party vendors.
After supporting the launch and providing training, HqO continued to partner with Jamestown in a number of key areas. From helping develop an engagement programming roadmap to ensuring monthly insights reporting aligns with management’s goals, the tenant experience team and larger platform has continued to support the innovative and highly effective tenant experience program that’s turned the IDB into one of Boston’s hottest commercial properties.
Tenant Experience Results
The Jamestown team quickly achieved their goals of activating their investments, building a stronger community with their tenants, and reinforcing their brand. Some of the most notable wins include:
- 89% of tenants are signed up for the app
- 54% of tenants are active monthly users
- As Jamestown prepares to add new buildings, they’re scaling the experience across their portfolio
4 Specific Tenant Experience Successes at the IDB
Efficient Market Research to Target Amenities + Market Research: By leveraging HqO’s platform, the IDB management team routinely tracks engagement, event participation, and emerging needs — and then uses that information to shape the future programming.
Recently, the IDB team was considering a major investment to bring an upscale restaurant to their mixed-use commercial space. The management wanted direct tenant feedback to guide this important CapEx decision: Was this the highest value use of the space and resources? They leveraged the platform to survey tenants and to identify further opportunities and needs. The survey revealed that tenants were happy with the existing meeting space and dining options and an upscale dining option was #7 on their list. Yet, it also revealed a more pressing opportunity.
The building’s location made it difficult to sometimes access pharmacies conveniently during business hours. The managed team partnered with a pharmacy to offer popup retail programming. It was a big hit with tenants and ensured that each dollar invested in growth had a maximum impact on the tenant experience.
Eliminating commute stress for tenants: Commuting to and from work is a major source of stress for professionals, and efficient transportation options play a key role in alleviating that. The Innovation and Design Building is located in Boston’s Seaport District, along the water and accessible from Boston’s public transportation system.
However, the IDB team recognized this could be a pain point for tenants, especially when multiple bus or train changes were involved, and offered shuttle services from major transportation hubs in the city. The shuttles operate on a schedule, but Boston’s heavy and sometimes unpredictable traffic could make it challenging to pinpoint a shuttle’s arrival time. The HqO team suggested an integration that leveraged the shuttle’s onboard GPS devices to add a tracking feature to the app.
The app now provides a real-time shuttle tracking feature, which helps tenants better plan their commutes and maximize their productivity, while eliminating wait times and commuting frustration. Because the shuttle tracker is centralized in the IDB HqO app, it supports the open tenant-focused communication that Jamestown fosters throughout their experience.
Insights into how the building is being used: Real-time data and insights help ownership and property management make smart business decisions based on how a building is used. Yet many commercial real estate firms struggle with a lack of data. Jamestown has used the data provided by the HqO platform to optimize performance and target their programming.
Consider this example: food trucks and pop up dining bring diverse dining options to tenants on a regular schedule. By tapping into the app, it was possible to determine which food providers were the most popular – right down to specific menu items. Leveraging that data helped the management team determine which vendors to bring in permanently. It was also used to push promotions through the app for popular items, and to bring attention to vendors and dishes currently being overlooked. Using data to tune into the tenant experience at that micro-level drove relevant, personalized offerings and interactions. It also helps drive additional revenue and value for retail partners, service providers, and pop up programming vendors.
Refining event programming with real-time data: The IDB has shown industry-leading creativity is through their event programming. HqO provided support to this initiative at many levels. Information about event programming was centralized in the app, making it easier for tenants to track what’s going on that they might be interested in. By leveraging engagement and attendance data, the IDB quickly identifies what types of events are working and not. In 2019 alone, the IDB has offered a variety of services and creative programming to tenants. In addition to the permanent onsite food and retail opportunities, these have also included creative options such as:
- Eye exams
- Invisalign consultations
- Blood drive
- Bike tune-ups
- Vehicle wash and detailing
- Injury screening
- Teeth whitening
Meeting the needs of busy tenants makes core services available during the workday – such as during a lunch break or before a commute – a significant value-add to being part of the IDB community.
The Future of Tenant Experience
The Jamestown Innovation and Design Building is a powerful example of how a tenant experience focus – supported by an integrated TeX platform – can provide lasting competitive differentiation in today’s commercial real estate market. By investing in strategies that activated their investments and amenities, the IDB addressed their tenants’ most pressing concerns and offered high value-add services and programming to solidify community-building. HqO’s platform has enabled their vision to take shape in a mobile-friendly, accessible way. The IDB’s willingness to remain on the cutting edge of tenant experience means that they’ve effectively leveraged insights, data, and advisory services for ever-improving results. The future is bright for the Innovation and Design Building, and their roadmap to success is built on a foundation of strategic tenant engagement management and technology.