Residents and Managers Sound Off at RealWorld 2017
RealWorld is fast becoming the place where multifamily industry leaders and residents get face to face. For the second straight year, RealWorld 2017, a leading property management conference set for July 16-18 in Las Vegas, will host an educational session featuring un-staged interaction between apartment residents from the greater Las Vegas area and multifamily panelists.
This year, the subject turns to trends around resident communication, reviews and retention. “Resident Communication, Engagement & Retention,” hosted by industry speaker Elaine Williams and RealPage’s Jennifer Torigoe, includes feedback from a resident focus group on real-world scenarios and discussions on the impact that communication and reviews have on their leasing and renewal decisions.
The backdrop of the discussion will be a resident portal.
Organizers are bringing back a resident focus group after the standing room-only success of “What Renters Want: Providing a Great Multifamily Living Experience” at RealWorld 2016. A panel of 17 residents from California and Nevada created a buzz by giving their thoughts on how multifamily could better fulfill the renter lifestyle in 2016.
At this year’s conference at the Wynn Las Vegas, observers will have to the keep their eyes on the screen as residents and managers engage on noise, safety, social and parking on RealPage’s ActiveBuilding resident portal app. The session is designed to show property managers the benefits of using a community portal to strengthen the bond between landlord and renter.
“We will prompt residents and managers with the four scenarios so that they post on a demo portal,” said Torigoe, who is an industry principal in RealPage’s Consumer Solutions Group. “After the interaction, we are going to bring the residents on stage for a deeper discussion
Williams, who heads Elaine Williams Consulting Services, LLC, will ask questions about the responses to get a better understanding of what’s important to residents and the value of easy interaction with management as it relates to retention.
Torigoe says that residents today expect real-time conversations about critical issues with management and other residents in the mode of communication of their choice. Renewals are won and lost often based on how quickly management responds to requests. Portals enable residents to communicate privately with management and residents, as well as to the community in general.
Text messaging, a feature of Active Building, is becoming a popular means of communication between residents and management. According to Satisfacts data, 50 percent of renters – including 42 percent of residents 65 and older – prefer it.
Portal technology creates a stronger sense of community that industry pros say enhance the likelihood that a resident will renew, Torigoe says.
“It’s important to have the real-time interaction and having (a portal) as a vehicle,” she said. “Interaction with residents has changed. No longer do we have that warm and fuzzy when they move in and don’t talk to them until renewal.”
The session will tackle common issues and complaints of apartment residents, like noise and parking, and show managers how the platform is unlike an open forum that may include a lot of public grumbling. Unlike many social media sites, ActiveBuilding is a closed portal designed for only staff and residents.
The idea, Torigoe says, is that portals are a great service opportunity where staff is engaged with residents to uncover pressing issues that can be handled within. If one resident has a concern, it’s likely there are more who feel the same way, and it won’t be public like with some social media outlets.
“It’s not a public forum,” she said. “The conversations stay there. If you want to resurface the parking lot and send an update on the progress, the portal is the place for that. That’s not the kind of info you want to post on social media for your prospects to see.”
Residents can also converse with each other, swap ideas, and offer recommendations for their neighbors.
The session will also address the importance of having an online presence and how to respond appropriately and effectively to inquiries and complaints.
Also, the importance of communication skills in the hiring and training of community staff will be discussed.