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NAA Apartmentalize 2021 Session Recap: Tour Type and Demand

Recap from Apartmentalize 2021 Session – Tour Type and Demand: Not All Tours Are Created Equal

The new tour type within multifamily can be a bit like navigating muddy waters: tricky, confusing and even a little disorienting. It becomes even more complicated because apartment owners and operators all define tour types in unique ways.

Many operators were rushed to implement self-guided, virtual and video tour options when the industry was forced to take a contactless leasing approach. But perhaps a few things were missed or overlooked in the rapid-pace implementation process.

“I noticed in talking with our customers all over the country that everybody has different ways to define things,” said Jaime Conde, vice president of sales at Anyone Home, during the Tour Type and Demand session at Apartmentalize 2021. “The key is you have to define it. But there hasn’t been an industry-wide general consensus yet. We’re still navigating these waters because of people still trying to understand it themselves.”

Defining multiple tour types is the first step in navigating the muddy waters. The next step requires tracking each tour type and conversion rates for each distinct option. It’s critical to define and measure each type because each will require various forms of communication, prospect engagement and workflow processes.

“The data shows that some of these tours convert very similarly and some of them don’t, but they work really well when done together,” Conde said. “Once you track them individually, that’s when you can really set up powerful processes and follow-ups that are specific to your leasing.”

Conde noted that, looking at the data, self-guided and agent-led tours convert to lease at about the same percentage, but when a prospect takes both tour options, the lease conversion skyrockets. In these instances, lease conversion can get as high as 40% for some of Anyone Home’s customers.

Tours are not just standard tours now, and they all have nuances between user behavior, conversion and follow-up best practices. Apartment tours used to be a fairly linear process, but now that multiple tour types are going on simultaneously, it’s not so linear, and each tour requires its own leasing strategy.

“You need to dive into your systems to better understand why it is,” said Justin Choi, director of marketing at Sequoia Equities. “Step one would be measuring these individual tour types because they do require discrete follow-up and a different communication playbook.”

Kyle Johnson, marketing and technology associate at R & V Management added, “What types of correspondence are we drilling into? Which types of correspondence convert the highest to lease? Are we really honing in on those? Are we identifying, from a conversion standpoint, what’s working and then really making sure those processes are in place and consistent with the best desires of the prospect as they’re going through the leasing process?”

Emerging technologies and tools like AI chatbots, automation and CRMs have enabled operators to track tour types and conversion rates. Operators are also gaining crucial insight of the customer journey and important touch points while enhancing the overall tour experience for prospects.

Some other technologies that streamline self-guided tours and enhance the customer experience include access control and ID verification. These solutions not only provide a seamless self-guided tour experience, but also provide safety and security for prospects and residents alike.

“Access control really is a technology that is almost the yin to the yang of self-guided tours,” said Jennifer Carter, director of marketing at SmartRent. “It can really help you to help the self-guided tour process. You can also gather a lot of information on the people who are coming and going using that access control in your community.”

Safety has been a focal point of rolling out self-guided tours at apartment communities. Community teams must navigate the fine line between flexibility and providing options for prospects while ensuring current residents are safe and the property secure. Access control and ID verification have been mitigating these risks and weeding out potentially bad actors from entering communities.

While there are numerous tour options today, one of the most pressing questions still remains: are these tours going to replace humans? To put it simply: no. There is room in the industry for self-guided tours and agent-led tours. There is room for AI communication and AI correspondence. Modern prospects really just want options.

“One of the things that I like to relate to the options that we want to give prospects is when you grocery shop,” Carter said. “You want the options to interact with and talk to somebody. You want the option to just go pick up your own groceries. We need to be able to offer those options for those folks who still have those questions that need to be answered.”

Multifamily has learned a great deal about offering various tour types, and while a lot of questions remain, some of these processes and learning curves will take time. The industry has already made great headway in the pursuit to enhance the customer journey and internal processes with new technologies. The new age of leasing will only get better from here.

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