We all know the pandemic has drastically changed the real estate market, but more changes are yet to come. The urban landscape is transforming, and companies like Placemakr are here to usher in the new era.
Placemakr is a tech-enabled hospitality platform and operator that’s seeking to revolutionize the way we think of urban real estate.
Transform It Forward with Jason Fudin: The future of hospitality in a post-pandemic world
In the most recent episode of Transform It Forward, I sat down with the company’s CEO and Co-Founder, Jason Fudin, to get his take on the transformation, and what we can expect for the future of the industry.
Prior to co-founding Placemakr, Jason was the Vice President of Strategic Initiatives at Vornado Realty Trust, where he worked on large asset repositioning and developing innovative commercial real estate concepts for the organization. Over his career, Jason has managed commercial real estate development projects valued at over $2 billion and has worked in development, acquisitions, and capital markets.
We discussed how the urban landscape is shifting in a post-pandemic world, and what we can expect to see happening next.
The next generation of real estate
To kick off our conversation, Jason explained how the real estate world has evolved over the past few decades.
“A generation ago, real estate was built as a single-use, highly inflexible, not a hotel, but an office building. There wasn’t even like ground floor retail. It was absolutely single use. And then in the 90s, you had this idea of mixed use where you would stack users on top of one another, and that was considered novel. Where we see the world going is the next level of that: you have different uses existing within a single building and you can flexibly move between those uses to the benefit of customers and to the benefit of real estate owners.”
That’s where Placemakr comes in. The company is building a platform to enable this kind of mixed-use real estate development, which involves several different components that work in tandem with one another.
In addition to buying real estate to the tune of a quarter of a billion dollars each year, Placemakr also features a sizable tech component in order to help facilitate that execution.
“We’re building a consumer brand because that’s where the demand comes from and we’re building a property operating team. So we’re building all of these components that all point toward that north star. Eventually, we would expect the majority of urban buildings to be built as this kind of co-mingled, flexible use of apartment and hospitality.”
Overall, the company features several moving parts, but as Jason mentioned, each one has a specific role to play when it comes to laddering back to their main objectives.
A totally tech-enabled customer experience
Placemakr’s business model is designed to benefit all stakeholders within the ecosystem. In other words, not only does the platform benefit real estate owners because it enables them to increase the amount of cash they’re making by double or triple, but it also benefits consumers in several unique ways.
Jason explained that Placemakr targets a variety of different consumer types. These include the traditional consumer who’s renting an apartment for 12 months, as well as long-term renters who are looking for something furnished.
Another consumer category considers busy executives who are attracted to the kinds of hospitality services that are offered within the building like cleaning and laundry services—for them, it’s all about ease of lifestyle. On the other hand, the turnkey, furnished side of the business services consumers who are hoping to show up on day one, sit on their sofa and start streaming Netflix right away.
“When you get to the shorter stays, it’s a little different. Let’s say you’re a doctor on a six-week residency, it’s too long to be in a hotel, but too short to be renting an apartment. And so for that consumer, you book it, it’s tech enabled, everything’s there the day you arrive and all of your experiences are both in-person and digital.”
All four of these consumer types have very different needs, which is why Placemakr aims to meet them differently. However, all of these consumers have one thing in common: they expect a streamlined, convenient, tech-enabled customer experience that makes their lives easier.
Through their platform, the team at the company has made it a priority to blend the physical and digital seamlessly for these four different consumers. Given that 80% of their arrivals are contactless and the entire customer experience takes place through the mobile platform, this was an essential non-negotiable element for the company, and Jason believes this is the case for most companies that serve customers today.
The future of real estate
To finish off the interview, I asked Jason what he expects to see taking place within the North American real estate market over the next five years.
“My expectation is that five years from now, almost no one builds single-use, multi-family buildings in core markets, and almost no one builds single-use hotels but for very specific purposes like a convention center hotel or some kind of small St. Regis that’s super high-touch. Just economically speaking, it doesn’t make sense to build straight up apartment buildings or hotels in these markets when you can build a blended use.”
He conjectures that within five years, over half of the units in major cities will be built in this flexible way, and more companies with offerings similar to Placemakr will begin to dominate the industry.
“I do think the entire asset class will become institutionalized. So we will not be the only player or the only winner.”
As I often say, good ideas rarely stay standalone for long.
However, it’s clear to see that the entire team at Placemakr is highly ambitious, driven and passionate about what they do, which are all key ingredients when it comes to transforming an industry–especially one as old and established as real estate.
- Never lose sight of your north star. At Placemakr, everything the team does ultimately ladders back to their goal of ushering in the new era of urban real estate. To accomplish this, the company consistently keeps the goal of creating urban buildings that can accommodate several co-mingled, flexible uses top of mind.
- Maximize value. By approaching real estate as a financial instrument, Placemakr was in a better position to squeeze as much value out of the industry as possible. Not only did the team financially engineer better real estate for investors, but they also had an opportunity to build some beloved consumer products, which in turn, maximizes value for all stakeholders.
- Take advantage of greenfields. As Jason noted, multifamily real estate is essentially a greenfield, which means there aren’t too many other players operating within the space. He and the team at Placemakr are capitalizing on this to get ahead of the pack and seize the opportunity to succeed across the real estate investor side, the software side, the customer side and the operating side.
- Prioritize a tech-enabled customer experience. The team at Placemakr has a specific vision for the tech-enabled customer experience, which they’re constantly looking to improve. By thinking through every single step of the customer journey and how it can be streamlined using tech, the company is working towards a perfectly seamlcess experience.
- Teamwork makes the dream work. We hear it time and time again on this podcast, but it’s worth repeating: people are your best asset. At Placemakr, the team is united in its shared vision of making a large impact both on this industry, the asset class, and on the people they work with every day. Everyone on the team chose to bet on themselves and each other by pursuing their passion, and so far, it looks like the bet is paying off.
Listen to the full podcast episode here and subscribe for updates wherever you get your podcasts.