Prior to the pandemic, the leasing process was already shifting. While classic tours remained a staple, an increasing number of options were becoming available to prospects in the form of virtual, remote and self-guided tours.
As the pandemic hit, those contactless options not only became more sought out—they became a necessity.
While it’s impossible to predict when the pandemic will be contained enough for traditional procedures to resume, it’s reasonable to infer that some processes utilized during these times will set the blueprint for the industry moving forward. With consumers becoming accustomed to a touch-free environment—and likely to prefer it for the foreseeable future—it’s not a stretch to believe self-guided tours represent a key longtime component for the apartment world.
Apartment operators are in various stages of incorporating contactless solutions, but demand is strong and growing. Entrata launched Self-Guided Tours in July 2020, and, within the first few weeks of availability, communities around the country have performed nearly 12,000 contactless and semi-contactless tours leading to over 1,300 approved leases. With normal processes not returning anytime soon, the need for intuitive self-guided tour options has never been greater.
Most important is a flexible solution, given that every community has its unique nuances and onsite teams have a variety of creative ways to offer a self-guided tour. With that in mind, here are a few key features that forward-thinking solutions should offer to best assist teams:
Ability to strategize which homes to feature
Simply put, teams want to have control of where they are directing prospects. Some communities showcase model units, some use vacant units and others a subset of vacant-ready units. A flexible and intuitive platform will allow teams to assign scheduled self-guided tours to any unit on a per-case basis.
Ability to advertise tour types
Rather than a pre-packaged template, teams should be able to showcase only the types of tours they are offering and to modify the list on the fly. Perhaps you offer a traditional agent tour, remote tour (in which a live agent remotely guides a prospect through the property), a virtual tour and a self-guided tour. Those buckets should be available—and not accompanied by any non-available options—when a prospect is deciding how they wish to view the community.
Ability for prospect to schedule specific tour type and specific unit online
While it’s valuable when prospects can schedule their desired tour type, another layer of customization is added when they can choose which unit type they’d like to see based on your featured homes. Ideally, the prospect’s preferences will allow the onsite team to choose the best home to showcase after receiving the tour request, as in the first step above. This also allows teams to observe the time frames of the submitted tours and avoid double booking or overlapping any available demos.
Integration with verification software
As part of the tour-scheduling process, organizations can save some time on the backend by verifying the prospect ahead of time. The prospect will not have to worry about verification issues at the tour, and onsite teams are notified of any red flags ahead of time and can cancel or reschedule the tour, if needed.
By providing options such as keyless entry and voice activation apartment communities are doing their part to offer a purely contactless tour experience. But as the need for self-guided tours continues to grow, the software platforms that host them must adapt to increasing demand. By offering more intuitive ways for prospects to schedule tours and allowing properties to integrate their self-guided tour platforms with additional features within their property management system, the tech will keep pace with the industry’s need to move quickly.