How The Wanamaker Building team stays in touch and boosts engagement.

No matter their city or size, commercial property owners and managers across North America are facing the same challenge right now: COVID-19 has dramatically impacted their occupancy rates and changed the usage of their buildings. In the first weeks of the pandemic, we all scrambled to wrap our minds around this new unknown. But as reality settled in, we got wind of resilient property managers that had started setting plans into motion, getting creative and rethinking tenant engagement.

Chief among them: the management team at Philadelphia’s iconic Wanamaker Office Building. They joined our joint webinar with the BOMA Philadelphia sustainability committee to tell us more about how they’re staying relevant, engaging tenants remotely, countering low occupancy and maximizing Alvéole’s buzzing bees in their new, COVID-proof retention strategy.


Finding new ways to build and maintain connections

Occupying an entire city block, the 12-story Wanamaker Building is one of Philadelphia’s largest and most prestigious Class AA office and retail properties. Needless to say, with that much property to manage, General Manager Natalie Kidd has her work cut out for her even in the best of times. But as the pandemic hit and the building went quiet, staying in touch with her tenants became her top priority.

“We, like so many people, have found ourselves really trying to find ways to stay connected to our customers and to stay connected to our neighborhood. So I started thinking about bees.”

– Natalie Kidd, General Manager, The Wanamaker Office Building

Convinced by Alvéole’s turnkey approach to urban beekeeping, the Wanamaker team spotted a unique opportunity to reach multiple goals all at once:

  • Bolstering the building’s sustainability efforts;
  • Creating added value for the community;
  • Engaging with her tenants.


As it turns out, getting the hives installed on the Wanamaker rooftop was only a start. The centerpiece of her creative COVID-adapted bee initiative? Their bee cam, which quickly fostered active engagement and became a resounding success.

“Our customers have really gotten into it! They can even calm themselves in the middle of a busy day through the zen process of just watching the beehives. In fact, last week YouTube had a glitch, our bee cam went down and I was getting emails from people asking me what had happened to the bees.”

– Natalie Kidd, General Manager, The Wanamaker Office Building

Fueled and inspired by the tenants’ joyful passion and curiosity for the project, Natalie’s team found new ways to promote and grow the project far beyond initial expectations. They’ve been keeping over 5000 people informed about the bees through their newsletters, their MyHive portal and frequent e-blasts that announce any updates to the hive and its buzzing inhabitants. They’ve also invited tenants to a series of popular virtual seminars and workshops introducing the project and installation process. The result: a steady stream of great feedback and active engagement.


Seizing the opportunity to talk about sustainability

Beyond keeping tenants connected, the Wanamaker team has turned this unprecedented situation into a unique opportunity to highlight their commitment to one of today’s most pressing causes: sustainability. For many, this period of imposed self-reflection has become an evocative reminder of the impact we have on our ecosystems, and how interconnected we all truly are. For many property managers, that makes it a perfect time to showcase the ways in which they’re doing their part. Better yet, this might be a great time to reallocate some of those outreach and events budgets towards COVID-friendly sustainability initiatives.

“We haven’t been having any tenant events, and we don’t know when we’ll be having them again. We won’t be having our ice cream social in June, we’re not going to have our pumpkin carving contest in October, so we’re trying to find a way to have events that not only engage, but also inform.”

– Natalie Kidd, General Manager, The Wanamaker Office Building

And tenants aren’t the only ones being engaged by their bee project, says Natalie. As co-chair of her local TOBY Awards committee, she sees projects like these as a great way to engage with other buildings and garner broader industry praise.

“You get points for doing stuff like this! The sustainability portion is especially important, and this checks a lot of boxes.”

– Natalie Kidd, General Manager, The Wanamaker Office Building

Have you been spinning your wheels and wondering how to counter low occupancy despite the current crisis? This may be the perfect time to innovate and enlist the help of our bees! Get in touch with our team to find out how our turnkey hives can help you connect with your tenants.


Read more: #BeePerks: Happier and more engaged tenants and customers