While 2020 has been a year like no other with the COVID-19 pandemic presenting unforeseen challenges, we at RENX have been very fortunate.
We are incredibly grateful to our advertisers, existing and new, who stuck with us through 2020 and who have signed on for 2021.
We are more appreciative than ever for our readers, the people for whom we publish real estate industry news. You have visited RENX.ca in record numbers and steadily increased the subscriber base for our RENX Daily Newsletter.
We are thankful for the support provided by government programs that have taken the sting out of a difficult time and supported us in improving and expanding our news service.
More than anything else the hard work and dedication of RENX editorial and sales teams – which have pulled together under difficult circumstances – has brought us through what has been a challenging year.
While the year is almost over and RENX is well established for 2021, when COVID-19 rolled into Canada in March the future looked, at best, murky and possibly a looming disaster.
COVID brought a lot of uncertainty
When the first COVID restrictions were implemented, there was a mounting level of anxiety about the possible consequences for RENX’s operations, advertising revenues and the impact on the commercial real estate industry as a whole.
A saving grace for RENX was that since our inception, as an entirely online news service, our employees and contributors already worked from home. The familiarity of the home office routine allowed us to continue to focus on publishing news while making necessary adjustments for family and COVID restrictions.
At those early stages of the pandemic we made decisions which we stand by today: including an editorial strategy to continue to focus on our core strength of reporting on real estate transactions (what few occurred in the spring), property development, executives and market trends.
Our reporting on the day-to-day impacts of COVID-19 on the CRE industry remained in line with that core philosophy.
Our editorial team dove in head first, digging out the news that mattered to the CRE industry, continuing to assemble and distribute our daily newsletter, and writing stories central to our readers’ interests.
Staying the editorial course throughout 2020 has worked. There are a record number of visitors to the RENX website, many new followers on RENX’s social media feeds – particularly LinkedIN – and robust growth in our newsletter subscriber base.
New hires, new software and translation
Second, we moved ahead with an existing plan to onboard a National Sales Executive starting March 1, 2020. Simon Rideout joined RENX with a wealth of experience as a sales executive and bravely took on the task of selling advertising directly into the headwinds of the advancing pandemic.
We followed through on implementation of operational improvements, including replacing our CRM software, introducing document management software, relocating to a new website hosting service, and securing a new web development partner.
In the summer of 2020, we installed a translation option on our website offering French and English, recognizing its importance to the Canadian CRE industry, and reflecting our growing readership in Quebec.
We created a new position for a marketing and sales assistant and hired Isabella Zhang, also during the summer months, allowing for the introduction of new marketing materials and a streamlined sales process.
CRE industry adapts, stays the course
In the commercial real estate industry, we have seen devastation from the pandemic in particular among small retailers and seniors housing sectors.
Office and apartment owners were forced to very quickly adapt to challenging management circumstances. The industrial sector is booming in the wake of e-commerce investments in the logistics sector, and the apartment building market remains strong and buoyant. All the while, the entire industry, and the Canadian economy have benefitted from the more or less steady hand of government policy and tens of billions in support programs.
Overall, the dominant presence of large institutional owners as well as other deep-pocketed real estate owners and investors in Canada has buffered the industry from what might otherwise have been more serious impacts.
As indicated by the selected articles in RENX Top-30 Canadian CRE stories of 2020 property owners have continued to invest billions of dollars into new developments that are now poised to move ahead as the pandemic subsides.
The pandemic is not over yet, however it looks like the commercial real estate industry will continue to be one of the brighter spots in the Canadian economy in 2021 and beyond.
COVID takes a toll
While taking care of business, more than anything else we are all extraordinarily appreciative of the hard-working people on the front lines of the pandemic. They serve all Canadians in the fight against this terrible virus, buffering us from the risks it presents.
We also extend our condolences to those who have lost family members, loved ones, friends or colleagues to COVID-19 and we wish a strong and speedy recovery for those battling the illness.
It has been a year of continuous, relentless change and adaptation at RENX driven by entirely unforeseen circumstances. However, we have made it through and look forward to 2021.
Ann White, Publisher