If there is one constant in the apartment world, it’s that renter preferences and expectations continually evolve. But it has never happened at such an accelerated pace as in the current climate.
Those preferences and expectations seem to shift as quickly as technological advancements, which is fitting considering many of those renter cravings and demands center around tech. That includes the way prospects search for homes and the features they expect within them.
Tech giants such as Amazon and Google are reshaping the apartment living experience with various smart-home features. Some are exceedingly practical (such as Alexa and smart thermostats), others are essentially bonus items that cater to certain preferences (think smart egg trays and smart hairbrushes).
While apartment operators face the constant challenge to keep up with the nonstop pace of innovation, not to mention several additional evolving concepts that continue to reshape the apartment landscape, so too awaits opportunity. Here’s a look at some of the challenges and opportunities in 2019 and beyond:
Innovations aren’t only designed to make life more convenient for the resident. Some are designed to make things more efficient for the onsite team. And some carry mutual benefits, such as digital package lockers, which allow residents 24/7 access to their deliveries and free the onsite team from package management.
One of the most onsite team-centric solutions just beginning to make an impact in the industry is predictive maintenance. A smart refrigerator, for instance, might realize that its evaporator fan is starting to fail. The fridge could essentially submit its own service request to the maintenance team, which can order the part well before the repair is necessary. Imagine the surprise – and comfort – of the resident when the part is replaced either immediately or even before the refrigerator stops working.
Everyone seems to crave data by the truckloads, but at its root data is simply a collection of numbers. It’s nice to have, but it serves no genuine purpose until it can be converted into something actionable. As Jennifer Clince, president and chief operating officer for The Collier Companies, noted at the 2018 Entrata Summit, data is most valuable when it can enable fact-based decisions with regard to pricing, onsite team sizes and investment decisions.
The challenge is narrowing to the key metrics you’re seeking with a particular data set. One example, provided by Stephanie Fuhrman, managing director of technology services for Greystar, is to measure the average time it takes particular communities to answer prospect calls and determine whether that time has any impact in securing prospects.
Virtual reality and drone delivery
OK, so these services might not make a major impact in 2019, but they will eventually. Some apartment operators are currently offering virtual tours, and while it might eventually become a widespread practice, it hasn’t yet. This will enable prospects to tour from home, which will require onsite teams to transform the way they sell because the prospect has already seen the apartment home in a virtual environment.
With regard to drone delivery, apartment residents soon will have the luxury of patio or balcony delivery of packages, and even pizza. Some apartment developers are even considering drone landing spots within development plans.
The multifamily industry has done a commendable job in the past decade of bridging the technology gap. As tech and business trends continue to manifest at a breakneck rate, the challenge to stay on pace can be formidable. But if you are able to do so, the opportunities can make the efforts well worthwhile.