Dec 21

Key Takeaways from OpTech 2021

Posted by: Entrata | Category: Newsletters

Artificial intelligence and automation were gradually adopted by the multifamily industry in recent years due to their assist value. While they weren’t designed to replace associates, AI and automation can handle an abundance of tedious day-to-day tasks and enable associates to concentrate on higher-level initiatives. 

One of the telling side effects of the pandemic, however, has been the labor shortage—a trend that has transcended multifamily and affected virtually every industry. Now, apartment operators are leaning on AI and automation not only for their assist value, but also to help compensate for the dearth of associates. 

That was one of the primary takeaways of the National Multifamily Housing Council’s OPTECH conference last month in National Harbor, Maryland. Experts at the event discussed many of the industry’s pressing issues that have arisen in an unprecedented environment for both consumers and associates. 

Here is a look at some of the additional topics discussed:

Emerging single-family rental sector

In a session moderated by Entrata’s own Chase Harrington, panelists discussed the cutting-edge trend of multifamily investors and operators entering the single-family rental sector. The two verticals had little crossover in the past, but that has changed significantly. 

Panelists cautioned apartment professionals against taking a multifamily approach to their single-family efforts, even though distinct similarities exist. Renter profiles differ, property teams are much smaller and the number of hot markets is significantly less than that of multifamily. But prime opportunities exist in the SFR space if navigated correctly. 

The pandemic altered innovation for the foreseeable future

It has been well documented that many tech innovations received hasty rollouts in the early stages of the pandemic—by necessity. While some of these platforms served their temporary purpose in a contactless environment, others set the blueprint for how multifamily will operate moving forward. 

While concepts such as virtual and self-guided tours were already gaining traction prior to the pandemic, their rushed implementation led many communities to ponder why they weren’t offering them all along. Additionally, the prospect of flexible workweeks was something the industry rarely considered in the past. But with the advancement of resident and inter-team communication tools, the concept is  now being considered for certain associates. 

Countering burnout

OK, so this topic isn’t necessarily tech-centric, but it is one of relevance for the industry. The pandemic whirlwind, constricted site teams and the typical daily grind can leave associates feeling bewildered at times. One of the conference’s keynotes  talked about the close link between striving for high-level results and burnout, and imparted ideas for conquering burnout when it is about to take hold, including methods to unwind and de-stress while strengthening overall resilience. 

How high-performing data-minded teams thrive

Data without context is simply a boatload of numbers. And even if you have a data scientist to make sense of all the metrics, the data doesn’t move the needle unless it leads to strategic decision-making. Panelists discussed various ways data can foster improved efficiencies, increased revenue opportunities and make life easier for team members. 

These are only a few of the several forward-thinking concepts discussed at OPTECH; the conference annually features ideas and insights from some of the most savvy leaders in the industry. As such, it was a fitting and relevant end to a heavy late-year onslaught of gatherings, providing a peek into what is coming up in 2022.