Being confident with access customers was central to Kiwi Property's success in gaining accessibility accreditation for 10 of their retail and commercial properties with Be. Lab.
Kiwi Property, New Zealand’s largest listed diversified property company, prides itself not just on its bricks and mortar investments, but on its investment in people, too. It is this commitment to put the people who engage with their spaces at the heart of their strategy that led them to working with Be. Lab to ensure that their shopping centres and main commercial buildings are on a path to being as accessible as possible to all New Zealanders.
Ten properties went through Be. Lab’s accessibility accreditation programme, with two of these achieving the highest possible rating of Platinum: Northlands shopping centre and The Plaza shopping centre in Palmerston North.
Along the way there were ‘aha!’ moments big and small – the accreditation process at Centre Place in Hamilton, for example, found that an accessible bathroom door opened outwards rather than sliding across. It may seem small, but the recognition of how these factors impacted the experience of access customers enabled the team to shift the way they think about how their buildings work for all people.
As well as implementing a number of accessibility improvements such as this, the team at The Plaza also underwent training with Be. Lab which encouraged them to think differently about how they could be as welcoming as possible to all customers.
Be. Lab coach, Genevieve McLachlan hosted this training and took the team through a number of ‘access citizen scenarios’ such as someone with autism spectrum disorder or a sensory disorder who might find the hyper-stimulating noise, lighting and busyness of the shopping centre overwhelming, or a parent visiting the centre with a pram. This workshop is designed to unlock ‘possibility thinking’ and encourage the team to think outside the box about what they can all do – as management, as customer service, as security, or as cleaning teams – to engage with all visitors and customers.
Genevieve says, “it gives people the confidence to treat everyone with the same degree of respect and courtesy they would want to receive themselves, and teaches people how they can improve the centre in practical ways – from LED lighting to tactile indicators in elevators and at entrance – while helping people in one-on-one scenarios.”
Kiwi Property Communications Lead Campbell Hodges says of their experience working with Be. Lab, “Among senior management and staff at our various retail centre and properties, there is a shared view about the value and importance of accessibility. We are dedicated to becoming highly accessible and see it as a path we are on over time. We are collectively excited by the challenge of finding practical ways to improve the experience for customers."
In engaging with Be. Lab and doing the work to achieve accreditation, Kiwi Property has raised the bar for New Zealand enterprise. Their work across 10 properties represents a significant commitment to access and possibility thinking that will help them connect and sustain with their local and visitor community, with economic, social and cultural benefits both within their business and outside it.