A prospect arrives at an apartment community, meets with a leasing agent and sees the property in a predetermined path. In the past, that was the only type of tour. But modern-day prospects want choices when they search for their next potential home — and they now have an ever-increasing amount of options.
Over the past year, the way people tour apartment communities has evolved in various ways, presenting more opportunities to convert more leads to leases. In reaction to the pandemic, many apartment communities began offering virtual and self-guided tours in addition to the traditional agent-led ones. The variety of tour types is almost certainly here to stay, as operators have learned that prospects love options.
Entrata’s Chase Harrington and Virginia Love recently discussed the benefits of being flexible and providing multiple tour types as part of Entrata Connect’s Episode 1.
“We’re even seeing the lead-to-lease process being facilitated entirely through our chatbot,” said Harrington, Entrata’s president and chief operating officer. “What began last year as a way to protect your onsite teams and customers has become the new normal.”
Love, industry principal for Entrata, highlighted two Entrata customers with similar portfolios and discussed the touring options they are offering to prospects.
Operator “A” offers self-guided tours and virtual tours portfolio-wide when agent-led tours aren’t available. Prospects choose which option they prefer and verify their identity before arriving to the community. Operator “A” also utilizes Entrata’s CRM to send prospects an automated message prior to their tour with instructions regarding the tour and how to reach a live agent during the tour. The operator then sends an automated follow-up message to the prospect after the tour is complete.
Operator “B” offers all three types of tours across its portfolio and enlists Entrata’s leasing center to assist with scheduling tours. While the operator does automate prospect contact points throughout the tour, it follows up and executes the application process manually.
These customers are using two different processes, but both are having tremendous success. By taking advantage of the flexibility afforded by self-guided tour options in ways that serve them best, each customer is experiencing higher conversion rates across their respective properties.
It’s become increasingly apparent that customers not only want options when touring, but that they have come to expect them. Operators also want flexibility in how they offer and execute their various tours.
Furthermore, prospects want options when it comes to scheduling tours. “Not everyone loves picking up the phone to make an appointment, so we make it easy for prospects to schedule their tour online,” Love said. They can tour at a time that’s convenient for them in whichever way they are most comfortable with, she added.
The updated functionality makes contactless tours more accessible and available 24 hours a day, if desired. Entrata partners with CheckpointID to confirm the legitimacy of prospects’ identification and then saves their guest card for easy and appropriate follow-ups.
When it comes to property tours, flexibility surrounding self-guided tours gives property teams the control to decide what works best. With this newfound freedom of tour types, communities can experience an increase in lead-to-lease conversions, as well as an increase to the bottom line.