I had the privilege to attend and speak at the 2016 BOMA International Conference in Washington DC. Here are some of the key messages I picked up on during the conference. My reflective comments are in italics.

  1. Key note sessions and educational sessions
  2. With Great Service in Mind – Service Strategy to Delivery – Speaker Jon Webb
  3. Culture Sprinkled in Magic Dust – Speakers Peter Merrett and Jon Webb

 1. Key note sessions and educational sessions

  • Despite political turmoil in the US and UK we will remain strong and resilient. As a country we have so many strengths, we have been through troubled times before over the last century, and come through.

David Gregory, journalist and political analyst CNN.

We don’t always pull through in the quick time frame we want. We have come through tough times before; Black Wednesday comes to mind. Remain focused and consider new ways of operating.

  • Property managers need to think more like asset managers and owners by knowing not only the building, but the tenants, the market, margins and building efficiency. Know what is coming next, not just what you’re doing right now.
  • Dealing with changing technology. For example, how can you use your phone to access a building and then get assigned a desk? Beware of the risks, i.e. hackers.
  • Be prepared in all ways possible. There is no longer an easy yes/no answer or drill procedures. Different tenants, buildings, and cities have different requirements. Develop a plan with authorities, communities and real estate specialists.
  • Be authentic about your culture. Leaders embrace change and lead calmly through it. We need to be flexible and collaboration is the key.
  • Transparency with your team is key. Communicate often with your team and let them know what the company’s road map looks like.
  • Look outside your boundaries.

 Lacey Williard, CBRE Strategic Accounts Director; Charla Rios, DCT Industrial EVP Property Management; Marla Maloney, President of Asset Services, Cushman and Wakefield; Shelby Christensen, SVP Real Estate Operations, Liberty Property Trust

As property directors/managers: –

  •  think like the Landlord, the Asset Managers, and customers;
  • remain focused on the vision and strategy of the business;
  • get the team involved in decisions;
  • keep the team informed and communicate regularly;
  • build relationships, teamwork, and collaborate;
  • be willing to change.
  • We are in a tenant’s market. Look at the popularity of names like Regus,LiquidSpace and WeWork, which are offering the flexibility and creativity tenants are looking for. Technology has been driving much of this; look at what is being built around the world for names like Comcast and Apple. “How do we learn from this configuration and what tenants are looking for? We’re all students.”

Henry Chamberlain, President and COO, BOMA International

  •  Don’t underestimate the human element of the business. There are three critical ingredients to success: seamless service, exceeding customer expectations, and creativity. Seamless service means support, empowerment, communication, connection and proactivity through the whole team. Identify customer’s needs, from a shareholder, asset manager and tenant perspective. Understand their drivers. Come up with ideas of how you can create opportunities to engage clients and build value.

Catherine Lai, CEO Albest International, and Brenna Walraven, CEO, Corporate Sustainability

 A couple of speakers spoke over the few days about the innovation of developing a hotel style service concept into properties. My thoughts on this are that we started developing this concept in London in 1999 at Tower 42, London. This is not new in the UK but may be in some other parts of the world.


 2. ‘WITH GREAT SERVICE IN MIND’ – Service strategy to delivery

Speaker – Jon Webb

The key focus on this session was presenting the service strategy to delivery cycle.

The session also included how our internal voice, our frame of mind, has a major impact on how we treat our colleagues and equally importantly our clients. The cultivation of creating positive relationships with our colleagues, including service partners, is vital for setting the positive culture of the business and a genuine ‘one team’ ethos.

“How well we operate with one another has a huge impact on how we operate with our clients. We can be so task and process driven that we sometimes forget working relationships and that emotional connection with our colleagues.”


3. Cultures Sprinkled in Magic Dust

Speakers – Jon Webb and Peter Merrett

This session took the audience on a 23-year journey of JW and PM working together at various locations, from the opening of Ashdown Park Hotel, East Sussex, UK, in 1993, Tower 42, London, through to the current day at The Shard, London and prestigious JLL properties in Australia.

Towards the end of the session the audience participated in a team activity involving spaghetti, marshmallows, and an egg!

Some of the key messages that were consistent throughout the session included: –

  • having a clear vision and communicating it;
  • having strong leadership;
  • developing people in a fun and memorable way;
  • regularly celebrating success;
  • having short daily morning meetings with the management and HODs;
  • looking at the little things we can do to bring soul into our culture;

e.g. PM showed the audience a hand written letter he received from his Hotel     General Manager thanking him for all his hard work during the opening of the     hotel;

  • daring to be different and encouraging new ideas;

e.g. having a management team development event in a Woodland, including    building their own accommodation; developing a room service menu of      services available at Tower 42;

  • getting to know your occupants before they move into the building;
  • treating service partners as part of the team, not an ‘us and them’;
  • showing appreciation for great work, e.g. WOW Awards;
  • creating fun activities for occupiers.