Power in Disruption: The Best User Conference in Multifamily Just Got Real


RealWorld 2015 User Conference

The 2015 RealWorld User Conference was equal parts inspiring, educational and fun–a true breakout event for the multifamily housing industry and diversion from the RealWorld User Conferences of old. With sunny San Diego as the backdrop, the conference featured big brands like Yelp!, Marriott, Zillow, The Home Depot, HomeAway and StayAlfred. Over 1,200 attendees from around the country gathered at the San Diego Convention Center to expand their knowledge, network, and learn about the multifamily space.

RealWorld 2015 demonstrated how RealPage helps customers outperform the market through session content that spanned the real estate industry, including exclusive insights from industry leaders, esteemed panelists, case studies, roundtables and training. And Monday evening, attendees gave a whole lot of Who, and a Thing 1 and Thing 2, at a Dr. Seuss-themed costume party.

Also, the conference had a pronounced focus on two charitable initiatives this year:  feeding those in need and supporting childhood literacy. With each conference registration, meals were donated to FEED projects, totaling more than 14,000 meals to U.S. families, and hundreds of books were donated to the It’s All about the Kids® foundation.

Kickoff & Keynote

Multifamily icon Lisa Trosien kicked off the conference, delivering key insights on forming high-quality resident relationships. Trosien revealed how a property can utilize technology and tailor offerings to meet resident needs. “In our industry, there is big power in disruption… you should seek to disrupt your properties, your company and yourself,” she said. Always entertaining and in touch with the latest trends, Trosien kept the crowd laughing and set the bar high for what was to follow in the coming days. Big revelations were made during the RealWorld conference keynote.


RealPage CEO Steve Winn introduced Alpha Metrics, a cutting-edge benchmarking system that’s sure to shake up the industry. “Our only job is to help make you become the Alpha-the top performer. The one with an incredible track record regardless of market conditions” Steve said. This is the dream of every property manager. A recent addition to the company’s well-recognized Performance Analytics product, Alpha Metrics is one of the most significant introductions from RealPage to date.


Session content was fresh and compelling, and some of the top thought leaders in the industry spoke, sharing knowledge on multifamily trends, best practices and the latest technology.

In “My Smart Device Can Do WHAT?” technology expert and Atlanta and Georgia Apartment Association President Russ Webb revealed some of the top capabilities of tablets and apps most of us had never heard of before. Leveraging their functionality to do everything from share documents with colleagues to covertly escape from a boring meeting, Webb proved the possibilities are limitless with smart devices. By taking advantage of the technology that is right at their fingertips, property managers can experience increased productivity, achieve greater success in business, and have some fun along the way.

Knowledge didn’t just come from experts in multifamily. The session “What Can Hospitality Brands Teach Us about the Customer Experience” featured two globally-recognized companies outside the industry. Marriott’s Steve Pagano and HomeAway Chief Operating Officer Tom Hale stressed the value of creating a personalized customer experience by maintaining a culture of innovation and two-way communication. They also discussed how to identify an experience gap and empower staff to take responsibility and action. This session provided a unique perspective, and proved to be relevant for anyone in property management. Jay Parsons of MPF Research unveiled exclusive data relating to the evolving segments and demographics of today’s multifamily housing residents in “Who’s Today’s Renter?”

Parsons explained and debunked some common misconceptions about prospects and the characteristics that define them in the market. This proved to be entertaining “The Perma-Renter”, for example, is 45, has no pets, no kids, and could be categorized as “very single.” Parsons shared data on the average renter, 38-year-olds, and about how generations of renters often share surprisingly similar behavior.

“Save the Day! Protect your Community’s Online Reputation” could be described as a no-holds-barred conversation centered around the hot topics of reviews, ratings, and rants communities in multifamily deal with online. An in-depth panel featuring experts from Zillow, Yelp!, JMG Realty, and Pinnacle Living, where they tackled some of the biggest questions property managers have about managing online reputations. With a record-setting year for the apartment market , coverage of industry changes was imperative.

Overheard at RealWorld this year:


“Engaging panelists were a good change from other sessions I’ve been to in the past.”

“Awesome conference.”

“Great ideas.”


“Unique and informative”

Read what attendees had to say about RealWorld on Twitter

Conference Wrap-Up

Somewhere between wandering the Hall of Solutions, snapping pictures in the interactive photo booth, and sitting in on educational sessions, it became clear RealPage is causing a disruption in the industry and people are taking notice. With cutting edge content, innovative ideas and all eyes on RealPage, it will be interesting to see what they have in store next. We’ll have to see what happens next year, in Vegas.


Contributing Editor, Property Management Insider
President, Ballpark Impressions, LLC

author photo two

Tim Blackwell is a long-time publishing and printing executive in the Dallas/Fort Worth area who writes about the multifamily housing and transportation industries. He has contributed numerous articles to Property Management Insider, and worked as a newspaper reporter in the D/FW area. Blackwell is president of Ballpark Impressions, and publishes the Cowcatcher Magazine. He is a member of the Fort Worth Chapter/Society of Professional Journalists.

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