The Top 4 Myths About Office Buildings Mobile Apps
A building app is a great tool to boost tenants’ engagement and satisfaction. But there are a few pitfalls. Learn how to overcome them.
At Sharry, we’ve been developing mobile apps for first-class office buildings worldwide for over five years. And you probably don’t need one… as we explained in our last article with its checklist of the four basic office-building community activities.
Now we’d like to go deeper to explore the four most common myths behind almost every office-building mobile app.
Myth #1: Off-site content
Clients often ask us: can you create content for our app and our tenants? Naturally we can—but we don’t think it makes much sense. If you’re managing an office building, it's probably not your ambition to compete with Facebook, Instagram, and thousands of other providers of general Internet content for the moments that your users are spending e.g. waiting for the elevator.
The only content that will get your clients’ precious attention is information connected with a specific building that they regularly visit and spend part of their lives there. But this kind of information comes only from people with “boots on the ground.” Relevant and interesting information on events in your office building have to be shared by someone who spends time in that building. Sharry’s solution has various tools for sharing content to the mobile app or digital signage, including the distribution of push notifications.
Myth #2: We can beat Google
During discussions with clients we often hear comments like: “Our building doesn’t have events and isn’t home to any restaurants, but there’s a lot going on right next door, and we want to connect our tenants with their surroundings through the app.”
Although that’s a great idea, you shouldn’t forget there are already lots of great global services addressing precisely this problem. If users are seeking a restaurant to visit for lunch, will they launch your building app, or Google Maps? Will they order food delivery to the office over the building app, or will they go to something like Grubhub, Delivery Hero, or Wolt? And when they think about where to go after work, will they seek inspiration in a building app, or Facebook Events or Eventbrite instead?
But meanwhile a building app is a superb digital tool for promoting internal events that you’re organizing in the building. Naturally you can put up a poster in the elevator, but that won’t reach people who are out on a business trip or working from home.
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Myth #3: There’s no vicious circle
One great way to connect a building’s occupants with the businesses in the building or its surroundings is special offers. In the Sharry app for example we enable restaurants to share their menu in a building’s app or provide discounts to its occupants.
But before you get excited for this strategy, verify businesses’ interest in this kind of cooperation and promotion. And you can be sure you’ll have to overcome a vicious circle at the start: sellers won’t promote to a medium with few readers, while users won’t use the app en masse until it provides attractive offers.
Here again it will take lots of time, and it’s open to question whether this activity is still “developing tenant engagement”—are you stumbling into a completely different business instead?
Myth #4: Occupants, let's chat!
Some landlords often bring up one more argument: We want a building app so we can give our occupants room for communication and then they’ll just chat in there on their own. After six years in PropTech, we know that never, ever works... And incidentally, everyone active in this field knows the same. And it’s also confirmed by data from the latest Deloitte Insights survey—respondents consider “interactive mobile apps for communication” to be the least important of the factors that might help to improve their tenant experience.
An office building’s occupants definitely do want to chat and communicate... but they are writing to either a workmate (for that they have Slack or Teams) or their friends or family (for that they have WhatsApp, Messenger, and many other platforms). We strongly doubt anybody’s short on virtual communication today.
Despite this, we do have a forum for user posts in the Sharry mobile apps. It doesn’t function as a chat platform, but instead as a great virtual bulletin board for a few specific scenarios:
When the property manager needs to share information on events in the building.
When you as a user find somebody’s lost keys in the elevator, and you want to return them to their owner.
When you can’t make it to a concert tonight, and you want to sell your tickets.