GEORGIANNA W. OLIVER is the CEO and founder of Tour24®, the award-winning platform for self-guided tours. She is a serial entrepreneur and a corporate executive that has built several businesses in the proptech space, including EverGreen Solutions, AptBudget. and Package Concierge®. She served as an executive for Gibraltar Industries and oversaw the growth and management of Package Concierge® and is on the Multifamily Technology Entrepreneur Conference (MTEC) Advisory Board. She is also an Advisory Committee member of the National Multifamily Housing Council (NMHC) and on the Silicon Valley Bank Brain Trust Advisory Board of Innovators. She is a contributing writer for Entrepreneur.com’s Entrepreneur Leadership Network, serves as a Forbes Business Council Advisor and is a founding board member of the National Leased Housing Association (NLHA) Education Fund.
The pandemic accelerated the need for self-service options across virtually every industry. Companies hustled to come up with new and innovative ways to meet consumer demands. Traditional ways of doing things became outdated, seemingly overnight. Although COVID-19 may have led to rapid adoption of self-service and personalized options out of necessity, the multifamily industry quickly learned these options are here to stay. Operators need to find ways to manage their assets more efficiently and meet evolving renter preferences. Everyone will be looking for smarter and quicker ways to rent apartments.
Today’s renters expect to have flexible options and tour times. They want to tour when they want and not during the limited dates and times made available by communities. They are also digitally motivated and want to use their mobile devices to research and experience things in real time and on their terms. They expect a self-service solution and want to interact with as few people as possible to find their next home.
A survey by Tour24 found that nearly 40 percent of tours are taken outside of standard business hours, when leasing offices are closed. In addition, 31 percent commit to leasing immediately after touring. These renters credit their decision to having an opportunity to tour how and when they want.
If you are not offering personal and engaging technology solutions for renters, with flexible timing and touring options, you are missing out on valuable prospects and losing leases. In addition, the survey found that 78 percent of renters said they would rather take a self-guided tour than tour with a live agent. They want to do everything on their own terms, and don’t like being pressured.
Renters consistently share feedback that they “loved that there was no pressure”, “didn’t feel rushed”, “I could go at my own pace” and that it is “so easy.”
Not all renters share the same priorities. Allowing them to focus on what matters to them while on tour has proven to drive leasing outcomes that often exceed a guided tour experience.
Keys to Success
Self-guided tours have become an integral part of the multifamily leasing ecosystem. They are not being looked at in isolation, but rather as an essential piece of the puzzle that fits into the total customer experience. Industry leaders are looking holistically at what today’s renter wants, and empowering them to connect with communities in new ways that fit their needs. Here are some keys to success:
Best Practices for a Seamless Experience for Both Renters and the Community
Flexible and Efficient
Offering flexible touring options outside of standard business hours, makes it easy for renters to tour when it is most convenient for them. It also makes sense for the leasing team. Using technology solutions makes it possible to always have leasing coverage (after-hours, weekends, holidays) without adding headcount. More tours = more leases! It also improves efficiencies for busy agents during the day who can now be freed up to focus on renewals and other priorities.
Simple to Use
Make it simple right from the start. Incorporate all the scheduling options together, so it’s easy for a renter to find and choose their preference and schedule a tour. Include a description of what to expect during the tour. Have a clearly defined tour path to easily access and locate buildings, amenities and show units. To make it easy for the leasing team, the collection of guest card data needs to integrate with CRM/lead management tools or property management systems. The tour needs to incorporate actionable next steps for reviewing availability, pricing, or starting an online application while on the tour. Finally, everyone needs to be on the same page with consistent promotion of self-guided tours by the leasing team, concierge, and contact center including by phone, email and text.
Contactlessand Connect More
The tour itself may be contactless, but the renter still wants to feel connected. Provide curated tour content that guides the renter as if your finest leasing agent is by their side. Make it easy for renters to ask a question at any time and capture feedback along the way. Tour24’s data shows that whereas 31% are ready to lease right away, 60% are thinking about leasing. Real-time data collected during the tour helps the agent tailor the communication to the renter’s preferences and focus on a successful follow-up. Engagement with the renter throughout their leasing journey will maximize opportunities to close the lease.
A self-guided tour provides high-quality, consistent information to every renter, which showcases the community optimally, as well as helps with fair housing compliance. The most successful communities take a hands-on approach by doing daily walks of the tour path to ensure the grounds, amenities and show units reflect an ideal visualization of the community for renters who are touring on their own. They also provide self-guided tour education for the entire office, leasing, concierge, and maintenance team members.
The Bottom Line
Self-guided tours are here to stay. Embracing these new technologies and processes, will improve the customer experience, maximize efficiencies for all, decrease operating expenses and increase revenue. Learn everything possible to gain confidence in this tool to lease more units, and lease them faster! You can start with one community to learn what works and go from there. The longer you wait, the more leads you are losing.