Recap: 10 Takeaways, From 10 Thought-Leaders, In 6 Minutes


We launched People in Places last December to explore how businesses with physical locations are leveraging new technologies, tactics, and perspectives to improve visitor experiences.

We’ve been fortunate enough to sit down with thought-leaders across industries to discuss everything from using AI to create personalized visitor experiences, to building a culture and strategy around customer intelligence. Now, that we’re 10 episodes in, we thought it’d be great to look back at some of the key insights we’ve learned along the way.

Below are 10 key takeaways from our first 10 episodes:

  1. Tim Weale: Tech enables you to understand customer pain points from all angles.
  2. Özer Dondurmacıoğlu: Wireless networks have evolved into a core part of a business’ data strategy.
  3. Katie Meyer and Mike Grogan: The right partnership approach is key to implementing a data strategy for smart cities.
  4. Max Ryerson. Commercial real estate groups must find new ways to create value for their tenants, and that starts with data.
  5. Rachel Elias Wein: Grocery is about to change dramatically, as inventory, accounting, and customer data will be streamlined across offline and online channels.
  6. Natasia Malaihollo: Customers don’t only select airports based on price or convenience — they also choose them based on the experiences within them.
  7. Gabriel Bedoya: Location-based marketing is based on respect.
  8. Robbie Jones: Guest experiences are more than what happens inside your venue — they’re a culmination of small touch-points with your brand over time.
  9. David Bonthrone: Don’t start by choosing tech — Consider what issues are causing bottlenecks, and then make technology choices.
  10. Michael Beckerman: Data science is going to change the way commercial real estate businesses operate.

Read the Transcript

John Rougeux: Hi everyone, and welcome to People and Places, a show that’s all about helping you optimize the visitor experience. I’m John Rougeux, VP of Marketing here at Skyfii and for today’s episode, we’re going to mix things up a little bit. This isn’t going to be a standard interview. Instead, I’m going to share with you all of the key takeaways we’ve learned from our first 10 guests. That’s right, we just wrapped up our 10th interview, and we’ve been lucky to hear from such amazing experts: people in commercial real estate, airports, retail, smart cities, technology, just to name a few. So if you’re still trying to make your way through our previous episodes, I’m going to make things easy for you by sharing ten takeaways from our first ten guests. And by the way, if you’ve already listened to every single episode, not only are you amazing, but hopefully this recap will help you identify some new insights that maybe you didn’t catch the first time around. Are you ready? Here we go.

In Episode One, we heard from Tim Weale, who is the National Manager of Retail Solutions at Mirvac, a commercial property group in Australia. Tim reminded us that technology is no magic bullet, but it can enable you to better understand your customer’s problems from all angles. To do that, Tim uses what he calls the connected urban customer strategy, and it has six points. Number one is develop the right external partnerships; number two, develop the right retailer partnerships; three, use data analytics; four, have the right products; five, create urban mobility solutions; and six, start employing voice activation. Finally, Tim also recommended that we read Clayton Christensen’s The Innovator’s Dilemma.

In Episode Two, we talked to Özer Dondurmacıoğlu, who is VP of Location Services at HPE Aruba. Özer talked about how wireless networks have really evolved from a commodity to now what’s becoming a core part of a business’s data strategy. All that enables businesses to better understand who their customers are, how they’re interacting with their spaces and it provides new opportunities for engagement. Özer’s advice is this: if you’re collecting information about your visitors, make sure that you’re open about what you’re going to do with that data and how it’s going to be used. That’s key to creating a great guest experience.

Episode Three featured two guests. Katie Meyer is the Executive Director of Renaissance Covington and Mike Grogan is the Director of Mobile Strategy and Product Marketing at Cincinnati Bell. Katie and Mike are working on a smart cities initiative in the city of Covington, Kentucky, which is just outside of Cincinnati, and they both pointed out how having the right partnership approach is key to both implementing a data strategy for smart cities and in getting maximum value out of the effort.

Max Ryerson joined us in Episode Four. Now, Max is CEO and Digital Strategist at StratForce, a company based in the U.K. Max has a wealth of experience working with commercial property groups and his advice is this: in order to stay competitive, CRE groups need to find new ways to create value for their tenants, and that starts with data. The better they can get to know their tenants and who their tenants’ customers are, the better they’ll be able to service them. Max also recommends reading a book called, The Digital Transformation Playbook: Rethinking your Business for the Digital Age, by David Rogers.

In Episode Five, we shifted gears to the grocery retail space with Rachel Elias Wein. Now, Rachel is the Founder and President of WeinPlus and she reminded those working in this sector that grocery is about to change dramatically. This space is heading towards a model where online and offline storefronts are closely linked and before long, inventory, accounting and customer data will be streamlined across channels. All of this is going to create opportunities for new customer experiences when shopping for groceries.

Airports were the topic of the day in Episode Six, where we talked to Natasia Malaihollo, CEO at Wyzerr. Natasia pointed out that customers don’t just select airports based on price or convenience, at least not any more. They also choose them based on the experience. So to prepare for that, airports need to start measuring the customer experience. Once they do that, the better they can understand the improvements they’re making and see if they’re working. And they can also make better decisions about the future.

In Episode Seven, we were joined by Gabriel Bedoya, who leads Consumer Insights and Strategy at The Insights Co. Gabriel brought a unique combination of engineering and anthropology to his discussion about location based marketing. Gabriel pointed out that ultimately, location based marketing is based on respect. It’s a privilege to collect information from your visitors. So if you want to develop a great experience for them, you always have to be mindful of that.

Robbie Jones made some great pointers about guest experience on Episode Eight. Robbie is the Lead Insights Analyst at Katapult, a U.K. company specializing in creating great guest experiences. Robbie’s advice is to think about guest experience not just in terms of what happens inside your venue, but as a culmination of little touch points that visitors have with your brand, over time. Robbie recommends reading a book by Richard Thaler called Nudge: Improving Decisions about Health, Wellness and Happiness.

In Episode Nine, we talked about a topic that everyone seems to be getting more excited about by the day, artificial intelligence. We were joined by David Bonthrone, who is the Chief Revenue Officer of Remark Holdings, the builder of one of the world’s largest data driven suites of AI solutions. David pointed out that while there are many new possibilities that AI is creating for retailers and physical venues, business operators shouldn’t start by picking the technology first. Instead, they need to look at what issues are causing bottlenecks, and then select the best technology based on that. Sometimes that’s AI, sometimes it’s something completely different.

And finally, we land at Episode Ten. Michael Beckerman joined me. He’s the founder and CEO of CREtech. Michael’s interview reminded me of the classic movie from 1976, The Graduate, where Dustin Hoffman’s character is told that the future is all about plastics. Except 50 years later, the future isn’t about plastics, it’s about data science. Michael was quick to point out that data science is going to change the way businesses operate. According to him, now is a good time to start preparing to use data science, getting the right data infrastructure in place, finding the right partners to work with, and most importantly, making sure your culture is all about being data driven.

So there you have it. Ten pieces of advice about visitor experience from our first 10 guests, all in under 10 minutes. I’ll see you back here in our next episode, where our guest, Mark Brackley, is going to share his advice for finding the right technology partner.

Thanks for listening. I’m John Rougeux with Skyfii. I’ll see you next week.

People in Places is a podcast dedicated to helping today’s shopping centers, retail outlets, airports, museums, universities, and other physical locations optimize the experience of their visitors. Get in-touch: See all current episodes on our website here.

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