New Inspiration

Hotel brands have long explored new frontiers in an effort to build loyalty and retain the upper hand in the battle against nightly turnover. Multifamily has successfully borrowed on these innovations—why shouldn't office?
Editorial Director Suzann D. Silverman
Editorial Director Suzann D. Silverman

Success in the hospitality sector requires an ability to innovate, to stand out from the crowd and attract consumers and business travelers. From online reservations to rewards programs, socially focused lobbies to high-end restaurants, electronic keys to spas to unique boutique concepts, hotel brands have long explored new frontiers in an effort to build loyalty and retain the upper hand in the battle against nightly turnover.

In recent years, the multifamily sector has borrowed heavily on hospitality concepts as apartment owners and managers have fought for the attention of a similar crowd, albeit for longer-term stays. Online marketing can be a critical means to attract new renters, and social media offers opportunity to communicate with existing residents and to drive interaction within the community—not just online but around the pool, and more recently, through organized social events.

If multifamily can benefit from hospitality innovations, why not office? After all, office owners must compete for strong tenants, and those tenants must contend for desirable employees. The more cutting-edge the amenities and services available to office users, the better the chances of impressing those seeking new space. The technology sector can take credit for upping the office amenity ante, and the growth in the Millennial workforce, with its interest in social interaction, has further increased demand for amenities beyond the traditional break room. The rise of interest in Well Buildings—as evidenced by the growth of Delos’ Well Building Standard—has further boosted the value of some such offerings (think fitness, nourishment and comfort, three of the standard’s seven certification categories).

Indeed, last December, our monthly tenant-query partnership with Kingsley Associates, focusing on social events in office buildings, revealed interest in those  that “get tenants more involved in the surrounding community”—which could help “break up our normal day-to-day routines and give us the opportunity to meet and mingle with the other companies,” even giving rise to opportunities “to use them for their services.”

As these amenities catch on, some property owners are following the hospitality sector to the next frontier, a less-corporate approach that makes employees want to spend more time in the building while offering the breaks needed to energize them and make lingering more desirable, according to Equity Office President & CEO Lisa Picard.

Equity Office, long a pacesetter with such early adoptions as the unassigned, shared-desk approach known as “hoteling,” is currently redeveloping Willis Tower in Chicago to incorporate experiential retail and entertainment offerings, along with other tenant amenity space. Still in process, it’s already attracted some significant new tenants. Other owners are also exploring new options, and third-party providers are even emerging to help with implementation. Be sure to check out the examples featured in our June 2018 cover story, “Hospitality Checks Into the Office.” And let us know what you’re trying.

You’ll find more on this topic in the June 2018 issue of CPE.