The definition of a Smart Building is one that uses “an integrated set of technology, systems, and infrastructure to optimize building performance and occupant experience.” For building owners, it is critical to understand that both sides of the stakeholder equation in their facility – owner (building performance) and occupant – have to be thoughtfully planned, implemented, and maintained to create a true Smart Building.
Most Smart Building discussions focus on technologies that drive energy savings, predict maintenance failures, or reduce operational costs. These are important, but they all focus on the building performance side of the Smart Building equation. As we have written before, building owners today need to understand the impact that companies like Amazon and Netflix have on our expectations for personalization in the built environment. As we transform real estate assets, it is the occupant experience that will drive retention, utilization rates, and loyalty to our facilities. No one demonstrates or executes the value of the occupant experience better than Disney.
In a recent profile in Forbes, Disney’s Vice President of Digital Strategy, Kelly White, discusses the importance of eliminating ‘friction’ for guests through the use of Disney’s MagicBand. Through both an RFID antenna, the bands act as touchless hotel keys, credit cards, tickets, FastPasses. Through the high-frequency radio, the band communicates with thousands of Internet of Things (IoT) sensors throughout the park so that guests can have their experience personalized, like seeing their name displayed at the end of It’s A Small World.
Disney’s investment in its guest experience yields an astonishing 70% return rate for first-time visitors. Their commitment to frictionless, personalized guest experiences can teach building owners a vital lesson about occupants – engaging occupant experiences will drive utilization and loyalty. At a time when the commercial real estate industry is questioning how and if employees will return to the office environment, attention should be paid to the occupant experience side of the Smart Building equation. When we can safely return to our facilities, it will be frictionless, personalized experiences that will drive occupants to give up the comforts of working from home and want to return to the built environment.