Apartmentalize 2023: Industry Gathers for an Up-Close Look at Modern Multifamily
The apartment industry did a collective exhale in mid-June, which was fitting. Apartmentalize, the industry’s largest conference—and the one most thoroughly planned for by operators and suppliers alike—had made another successful three-day run.
The rotating annual conference, which took place at the World Congress Center in Atlanta from June 7-9, boasted a record attendance of more than 12,000 multifamily professionals who were eager to augment their industry knowledge and pass along their own expertise.
While technology is always a primary focus, many of the educational sessions had very 2023-like themes. Included were new types of fraud affecting the industry and ways to combat them, advances in automation that extend beyond basic tasks, and a reimagination of the traditional onsite roles amidst a challenging employment environment.
Perhaps the most emerging industry concept in the past few years has been centralization, in which operators make an effort to move some facets of individual property-based leasing to a centralized location where associates can oversee many properties.
Entrata President Chase Harrington moderated the conference’s key session on the topic, Many Paths to Efficiency: How Are Operators Centralizing Services? The well-attended session featured feedback from Greystar’s Kimberly Nicholson and Tricap Residential Group’s Suzanne Hopson, who shared stories about their company’s centralization efforts.
While centralization undoubtedly has become one of the industry’s most widely-discussed concepts, Harrington made sure to note that there isn’t one right way to go about it.
“The right way to do it is the way it fits for your organization,” Harrington said.
While keynote speakers such as downhill skiing legend Lindsey Vonn and Ted Lasso star and SNL alum Jason Sudeikis added an entertainment aspect to the event—as did the conference’s large-scale party at Mercedes-Benz Stadium, home of the Atlanta Falcons—industry professionals were there to soak up as much multifamily knowledge as they could.
That was evident by the bustling exhibition hall, which featured booths from hundreds of the industry suppliers, including software providers, various tech solutions, construction outlets, pet technology providers and many other apartment-centric services. As always, Entrata’s booth was prominently featured and enabled team members to connect with key members of the industry.
While many of the industry’s additional conferences have a more specific focus, the charm of Apartmentalize is that it features an entire gamut of industry topics and attendees range from new-to-the-industry onsite personnel to high-ranking decision-makers. It also features the highest volume of learning opportunities, with approximately 100 combined educational sessions and quick-hit breakout sessions. Automation remained a primary topic, with operators now beginning to use it to assist with hiring efforts. Calendar-based apps for scheduling, personality tests and cognitive tools that can help predict task efficiency are among the tools being deployed to assist in the candidate-search process.
“In 2022, apartment managers were spending one-third of their time sourcing candidates,” said Jessica Eberach, VP of People and Culture for Tricap Residential Group, in the Cutting Tasks Not People session. “That means time spent looking at their resumes, emailing and trying to schedule a time to speak to them. If you think about it, that’s a lot of time spent during a given week when you already have a lot of other things on your plate.”
Employee retention was another key topic, with the session Recession Proof Your Company with Marketing and Learning imploring operators not to cut training or marketing efforts if a downturn arrives. Despite their key presence in the success of companies, training and marketing are often among the first budget cuts during a downturn. A lack of training and learning opportunities could alienate high-performing associates.
“You have to nurture talent to survive,” said Jennifer Staciokas, Executive Marketing Director of Property Management for Western Wealth Capital. “And it’s important to lock down your really good talent, because the talent pool is very slim right now.
Whether the topic was career development, affordable housing, social media marketing, human resources, leadership, research or solutions-focused tech, opportunities to augment industry knowledge were abundant. Attendees also had the chance to take a deeper look at the platforms available to the industry, including a guided rundown of Entrata’s wide-ranging suite of solutions.
Due to the size and head-spinning pace of the conference, many industry professionals choose to take vacation time shortly after it ends. That’s where the exhale comes in. But the industry unmistakably will be ready to do it again next June when the conference moves to Philadelphia.