Hospitality is the silver bullet for our business.
Guests rather than Tenants, Customers rather than Visitors
(a reflection on the article ‘Hospitality is eating real estate’ , Matt Knight)
Soulbricks managing partner Nicolas Kint defines it sharply: “We’re no longer in the office business alone, we’ve never been in it. We’re approaching our customer relationship exactly the way our colleagues in the hospitality business do. It’s the key to our success, And I am quite convinced this is the only way to grow and prosper.”
Bundling of Services
It’s all about mindset and attitude. But it’s also about surviving and competitiveness.
“Think about it. Are you convinced that adding amenities and services to the leasing of office spaces will do the trick? Recent covid experiences have forced a whole sector to look towards an entirely new way of business thinking.”
Indeed, a simple analogy makes things clear. There’s a belief governing the office market that offering extra services was needed to remain competitive. That’s how you come to the idea bundling of services. You provide office space, car space, accessibility, meeting rooms, infrastructure, some (food) facilities and in the best cases, secretarial support. We’re not against that thinking, but we tend toward the other angle, in which hospitality plays a more important role.
Like in a lot of other industries, digitalization has led to unbundling. The traditional functions of our sector could easily be replaced by both low-cost alternatives, high end alternatives for the pickier ones, and a multitude of digital solutions.
“That is precisely what we wanted to exclude and why our business is now thriving. Because we’ve long since added an extra dimension. We do not concentrate – and we never have – on merely offering the traditional ‘office amenities. We’ve created an approach to our business which looks a lot more like the service they are offering in the hospitality business.”
Nicolas continues with enthusiasm. “What this implies/entails? Simple, proactive thinking. What are our clients really looking for? What do they need to be on the top of their game? Regardless of the growth phase they are in. Whether they like it or not, all owners and property developers have now entered the hospitality business.
Easier said than done
The fundamental truth is that most office space providers underestimate or don’t understand those needs. You think you provide a shiny building at a sexy address with irreplaceable amenities. You don’t. You provide a workplace experience, which happens to be bundled. Unbundling is a threat and shows the vulnerabilities in your offering. And that’s precisely where the ‘hospitality reflex’ comes into place. Take away the worries, provide the solutions, however difficult and demanding.
What if office landlords became hospitality-focused?
What if a few landlords got ‘Disney-level’ obsessed with guest experience?
What if the owner of your office was actually an advisor on how you came back to work and what technology tools made for the best employee experience? (Stop laughing. I’m serious.)
I’m certain it’s already happening. Some of us are starting to incorporate hospitality-like guest experience, and I think it’s a net positive for our business. We consider that we have guests, rather than tenants, and customers rather than visitors. It focusses the mind and the operations.
We need to rethink the customer journey and the touchpoints of both our tenants and our/their visitors and look for creative ways to improve the whole experience they have at our premises.
It’s do or die.