Tenant Experience Apps are the Must Have Technology Platform for Commercial Real Estate

How do Property Owners and Managers Choose Which One is Right for Them?

I have been in the PropTech space for over 20 years. I am currently a managing director at Kastle Systems where our team specializes in access control, visitor management, and video monitoring for Class A/B Multi-Tenant commercial buildings along with Multi-Fam.  The topic of discussion in our client meetings has shifted dramatically over the years, as portfolio owners have generally gone from making technology decisions for individual assets, to making decisions on a portfolio-wide basis.  There are several reasons that I attribute to this change in behavior.  For starters, as the workforce has shifted to a more flexible/hybrid environment, a single platform allows portfolio owners the ability to easily grant tenants access to amenities (shared office space, fitness studios, board rooms...) across all of their buildings.   A second reason is data.  As more data is being collected from sensors within a property, a unified platform allows portfolio owners the ability to easily leverage this data from all of their buildings to make more informed decisions. 

One of the main solutions that ties all of the buildings in a portfolio together is Tenant Experience Apps. Although each asset can have its own platform, the key to unlocking true value is a single portfolio App that every tenant can utilize, regardless of which of the buildings the tenant’s office is located.

The most popular question that I get asked from CRE Portfolio Owners and Managers is: “What Tenant Experience App do you recommend?”.

Over the years I have had the privilege of seeing most of the tenant experience apps in action, either in a live setting or via a demo.  I am really impressed with the level of functionality and innovation that these companies are developing, and I do believe that they play a critical role in the future of commercial real estate.   I would be lying if I said that I didn’t have my favorites, and I am always happy to share my honest views with my clients.  But I wanted to showcase the major players in this space in an unbiased way so that my readers can compare the different options to make the best decisions for their unique needs.  With so many options to choose from, the selection process can be disorienting.  I spoke with the leadership teams for the largest players in this space, and I asked them the following:  “Why is your solution the best one available on the market and why should customers choose to partner with you”?

Below in their own words, the category leaders provide their sales pitch.

HqO

Funding: $106.9

Markets they serve: United States, Canada, United Kingdom, France, Ireland, and the Netherlands

By using the HqO platform, landlords and property teams are guaranteed an advantage in the ever-changing commercial real estate (CRE) industry. HqO stands out from other tenant experience apps due to their focus on three key areas: technology, service, and stability. HqO’s platform approach to tenant experience means customers benefit from the best of both worlds — advanced built-in functionality combined with deep, best-in-class technology integrations. This hybrid approach increases time-to-market and gives property teams the flexibility to choose the right options for their portfolio. 

From procurement to implementation to ongoing support, HqO’s team of dedicated customer success and tenant experience experts supports CRE customers to make sure they maximize app utilization and get the best return on their investment. Lastly, with more funding, customers, and partners than anyone in the industry, HqO is the most secure and confident choice with the resources to deliver world-class results. See it for yourself — learn how HqO’s solutions put experiences and a sense of community directly into the tenants' hands while helping property owners uncover insights and take intelligent action to differentiate their assets and schedule a demo today.

Client quotes:

“We are very pleased to partner with HqO, a leading provider of property technology services, to bring a new level of service to, and engagement with, our tenants,” said Nelson Mills, CEO of Columbia. “We believe that providing a seamless digital connection between our tenants and buildings is essential to attracting and retaining today’s leading companies to our properties. As a leader in the office space industry, we are proud to bring HqO and the Columbia Gateway app to tenants across our portfolio as part of our ongoing effort to provide best-in-class experience and value to our tenants.

“One of our key priorities going into 2020 was implementing the new set of technology tools available today to the benefit of our tenants,” said Chad Phillips, Managing Director and Head of U.S. Office at Nuveen Real Estate. “Our focus on digitization has remained steadfast and has proved even more necessary throughout this tumultuous year. Our work with HqO is a critical part of being able to provide a consistent, user-friendly experience to our tenants while building out more integrated features and functionality on the backend.”

Sharry

Funding: Seed (approaching Series A)

Markets they serve: United States, Canada, EU, United Kingdom, Australia, and South Africa

Sharry is a cloud-based solution for tenant and visitor building experience (smart access, visitor management, community management, dynamic parking and digital signage). It consists of a web-based administration and white-label mobile app. Sharry is typically connected to an access control system and other building systems to allow users to manage everything from one place. It also ensures the highest user engagement on the market.  Sharry currently has over 25,000,000 square feet under management with fully integrated access control systems and its product is used by hundreds of companies. 

One of the key benefits and competitive advantages of Sharry is being fully integrated with a wide range of leading access control systems (over 20). This allows users to manage smart access, visitor management, community management, dynamic parking and digital signage from one system. Sharry has also been battle-tested in many setups with large building portfolios implemented at once (SL Green, Skanska etc.).

Client quote:

Edward V. Piccinich (Chief Operating Officer, SL Green Realty Corp.) says that “Sharry has been an excellent partner in designing and implementing the One Vanderbilt app. They helped create a healthier workplace and frictionless experience at One Vanderbilt, adding to the best-in-class amenities and forward-thinking technology at Midtown’s premier office tower.”.

Lane

Funding: Not Disclosed

Markets they serve: United States, Canada, Australia, Brazil, UAE, United Kingdom, Chile, and Germany

Lane is the no-code platform for the workplace. 

As every company looks to provide a great workplace experience for their employees, Lane provides the technology platform that works with all the stakeholders to make this possible. From office owners and managers, to flex space providers, to retail, service and amenity providers, and of course the companies themselves. Lane is on a mission to transform brick-and-mortar offices into thriving, connected ecosystems. 

1. No-Code: Lane offers a true “no-code” platform, meaning that our users can make hassle-free changes using our intuitive drag-and-drop builder to build out exactly what they need to power their workplace. Lane supports 1,000's of use cases already and is growing every day. 

2. The Whole Workplace: Lane includes the whole workplace, going much further beyond just tenant engagement. Lane offers a comprehensive end-to-end solution that improves the workplace experience across all the teams and at virtually every touchpoint—from room bookings and mobile access, to communications and commerce, to events, data, and beyond.

3. Flexibility: No two buildings are alike, no two offices are alike, and no two employees are alike. That’s why Lane’s modular technology allows you to tailor your solution to suit your customers exact needs—down to the most precise situations—allowing you to configure locally and deploy globally. 

Combining these three principles — no-code, the whole workplace and flexibility. Lane delivers an experience fit for the modern professional.

Rise Buildings

Funding: Recently Acquired by VTS

Markets they serve: United States, Canada, Central America, South America, Europe, Asia, and Africa

VTS Rise is a robust occupant experience and property operations platform used by top landlords that consolidates multiple software and hardware solutions into one, fully-integrated platform. As a result, VTS Rise delivers superior property experience for tenants and occupants as well as building management.

VTS Rise’s approach to engaging occupants is unique – by integrating tenant experience and property operations, VTS Rise has achieved best-in-class occupant engagement across VTS Rise-enabled buildings. VTS Rise solutions include: access and visitor management, health and safety, and property operations, including work orders and preventive maintenance, amenity booking, payments, package management, and more - in addition to delivering world-class tenant experience. VTS Rise integrates directly with numerous in-place property management, access control, and accounting systems, as well as amenities, turnstiles, and elevators.

VTS Rise delivers savings from reduced technology spend and greater operational efficiency. The platform also drives higher retention and enables ancillary revenue opportunities through amenity bookings, payments, and concierge services.

HILO Tenant Experience Platform

Funding: Not Disclosed

Markets they serve: United States and Canada

HILO is creating the largest community of people in buildings, focused on enabling property owners and managers to deliver outstanding experience for customers, whether they are at work, at home, or anyplace in between. At HILO, we see a future where building apps are not proprietary, because we strongly believe that the only thing that should be proprietary is tenant experience. That’s why HILO’s network solution benefits the most important asset in commercial real estate – PEOPLE! Our vision is to seamlessly connect building occupants and visitors to everything they need across buildings, neighborhoods and cities, to make their daily lives easier and better. All from a single consumer-based mobile platform. 

By offering our building partners easier implementation, ongoing support, scalable and cost-effective solutions, connection to community, and a commitment to achieving maximum tenant engagement, HILO will continue to innovate and relentlessly put people at the center of everything we do. 

After being historically slow to adopt technology, the commercial real estate industry is facing a critical turning point, and the time to embrace change is right now. Even as the world begins to reopen, we know that forevermore, people will continue to work from anywhere. That alone requires a digital connection to reach and engage with tenants in real time, no matter where they are. The HILO network provides new ways for building owners and managers to facilitate secure access and monitor space utilization, engage and communicate, create community, provide amenities, and offer newly emerging flexible solutions.

The future of tenant experience is HILO. If you share our passion, and have a commitment to putting people first in your building community, we’d love to talk. Come say hello and request a demo HERE.

Cohesion

Funding: Not Disclosed

Markets they serve: United States and Singapore

Cohesion makes smart simple. Cohesion is the leading smart building SaaS platform that leverages the most comprehensive insights for owners and operators who want to increase their asset value by delivering the best-in-class tenant experience in a green, healthy and operationally efficient building. By breaking down system data silos and incorporating occupancy data, Cohesion brings building systems under a single pane of glass and unlocks the building’s full potential. Cohesion currently serves 14,000+ users across 225 tenant customers. 

This IoT platform is the only application that creates touchless access controls for elevators and mobile credentials, arms you with Indoor Air Quality optimization tools, and streamlines daily operational tasks like work orders, mass communications and visitor management. These are done through a unique combination of native features and powerful integrations with existing building systems. Cohesion is non-proprietary and non-exclusive, working directly with vendors and adding new integration partners with almost every project. When it comes to tenant experience, building operations and real estate’s most comprehensive operating dataset, Cohesion sits at the intersection of all three.  Cohesion offers three products and different subscription plans that fits the varying needs of buildings. Our first product, Slate by Cohesion, is the occupant and operator app that offers smart controls, health and safety features, and tenant experience. Our second product, Vayu by Cohesion, is a comprehensive air quality monitoring and optimization program. And our third product is a digital twin for asset management that offers system commandability and access to comprehensive property operating insights. Learn more about Cohesion Building Experience App via this video

Client quotes:  

“Cohesion’s platform offers a feature-rich Transwestern-branded app for tenant experience management with digital twin technology that aids in maintaining buildings through improved systems performance and optimization, while enhancing the health and wellness of building occupants.”

Myrna Coronado-Brookover 

Senior Vice President, Transwestern 

“We partnered with Cohesion with the goal of making our buildings the smartest and most connected properties in the world.  We've been impressed by their capabilities and their technology is live in two of our Class A+ commercial properties in Chicago.  It is truly transforming our building intelligence and portfolio."

Nick Covello 

Chief Information Officer, The John Buck Company

Equiem

Funding: Not Disclosed

Markets they serve: United States, United Kingdom, Australia, Ireland, and Canada

Equiem is the global leader in commercial workplace experience technology, servicing more than 500 buildings across 5 countries, comprising more than 100 million square feet of Net Lettable Area (NLA)

The future of the office is uncertain. Equiem empowers property owners and managers in the global real estate industry with a mix of life-improving technologies and exceptional experiences, all designed to strengthen customer satisfaction and loyalty in the face of evolving demand.

With a tenant experience platform, e-commerce platform, flexible space booking platform, and a comprehensive arsenal of property management software solutions, landlords can attract and retain occupiers, streamline operations, deliver targeted communications, supercharge onsite retail and services, and unlock additional asset value across their portfolios.

The Equiem suite also includes the most advanced tenant analytics in the market, providing clients with rich, actionable intelligence that drives smarter, more effective tenant engagement. Download Our Ultimate Guide to Tenant Experience (free eBook) here

Client quote:

“Equiem has really helped us in three main ways. The first: communication. We’re now able to communicate to a wider range of occupants in our buildings. Second, it’s allowed us to activate our tenant amenity spaces much better. Third, it has allowed us to understand what our tenants' needs are, and collect information from them about what they really want.”

Darrin Williams

Vice President, Real Estate Services

Unico Properties (US)

Picking a Winner

As you can see, there are many options to choose from.  Hopefully the insights above can help you narrow down your choice to determine which one may be right for you. 

I will leave you with some advice which hopefully provides some value.  Always remember that no single company can be great at everything.  Be wary of any App that offers a closed platform that only includes features that are native to their App.  The key is an open architecture that easily integrates with the other business systems that you are already using, or the ones that you want to be using.  The App that you choose should provide some great natively developed features, but their goal should be a means of pulling together all of the services you need, from all of the providers that you rely on, into an easy to use User Interface that you can access through a single pane of glass.  Think of the Tenant Experience App as your operating system.  This will not only make sure that you can continue to use the vendors that you are currently replying on, but it also future proofs your investment so that you can continue to integrate new technology.  The next 12 months will bring a lot of new innovation. You want to make sure that when you find something that you want to adopt, that you can easily plug the new service into the App that you have chosen.  Otherwise, your tenants will need to have multiple standalone Apps that they need to use in order to enjoy all of the technology that you are providing them.  If someone needs to utilize multiple Apps, chances are they won’t use any of them. 

I really am passionate about Tenant Experience Apps and I really do love talking about these innovative new solutions. If you ever wanted to learn more, or to get some additional insight before you make a decision, feel free to reach out to me at any time.

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