Property technology, generally known as Proptech, has emerged as an often-used tool among commercial real estate developers and property management companies to harness data and intelligence to simplify transactions, assist with marketing and leasing, and optimize asset management functions and operations. Its use ranges from gathering real-time feedback from tenants to managing and improving the workplace experience to tracking and expediting purchases.
CoStar Group, which created user-friendly databases to conduct property searches to streamline the leasing process, may be the most recognizable Proptech company. More recent examples include Appfolio, software that facilitates investment operations; BeamUP, which benefits the construction management sector; LeaseAccelerator, a tool used to optimize the leasing life cycle; Matterport, an artificial intelligence platform that creates interactive and virtual walk-throughs; and Sharry, a tenant and visitor building experience platform.
Worksmith has developed and currently markets software that enables tenants and property management groups to identify, hire and make payments to local service providers. The Worksmith system is built to simplify the initiation of service requests, consolidate billing with the generation of one invoice and provide customized reporting and analytics that can identify areas for potential savings.
“We integrated the use of Matterport into several of our marketing initiatives during the healthcare crisis when many prospective tenants preferred virtual tours rather than in-person visits,” explained Katy Hayes, Marketing Director, MacKenzie Commercial Real Estate Services. “The tool provides a highly realistic and interactive 3-D experience and we have had tremendous success with it. Matterport remains a part of our marketing toolbox and is particularly useful when out-of-town companies are interested in local properties and are unable or don’t wish to travel for a tour.”
Simpli, a full-service experience management company that works with real estate development groups and building owners nationally, unveiled a branded workplace experience app in 2019 that is now being used in nearly 300 locations. According to Rebecca Lee, Simpli’s Vice President of Development, employees working for companies that utilize the Protech tool “can do everything from register for wellness classes and workshops, arrange for a car detailing, buy tickets to sporting or entertainment events, schedule a massage, bring in lunch and make an appointment for a flu shot.”
The list of possibilities is actually endless, Lee said. “Especially now, landlords and business owners are searching for creative ways to entice employees back to the workplace and this is another arrow in their quiver. One proven way to accomplish this is to offer services and experiences that workers cannot replicate at home or those that they don’t want to pay for. This includes happy hours, networking events, and classes that teach unique skills such as mixology and live music. And, it is critical for employees to have easy access to these amenities and to also receive them quickly. This app offers all of those benefits.”
Every app created by Simpli looks and acts differently because it is customized to reflect the unique location and amenities of the building and the goals of the owner. For instance, on the app created for mixed-use buildings at National Harbor, users would receive information about the nearest transit station, activities and perks sponsored by the developer and its retailers, and other data unique to that project or specific submarket.
Lee adds that Simpli continues to work to evolve the app to add more features including syncing with other technology, such as DocuSign, and adding an increased volume of content and enhancing e-commerce offerings.
“Proptech is becoming a ‘must have’ for landlords and companies given its ability to provide a touchless experience to gain access to a building,” Lee added. “Certain apps also recognize the unique habits of their users. This might mean walking into your office each day and finding the right flavor of coffee sitting on your desk and at the time you typically arrive.”