This year, thousands of multifamily professionals enthusiastically welcomed the return of Apartmentalize powered by the National Apartment Association. After more than a year of cancelled or virtual events, LeaseHawk couldn’t have been more ready for this opportunity to network and exchange ideas with our peers in person.
With our masks on and minds open, we were able to dive into more than 100 engaging sessions and explore over 400 high-energy exhibiting vendors. There was a lot of knowledge to absorb in just three days. Read on for our key takeaways and stats taken from the event that we think every multifamily professional should know.
Unlike other supply chains, there is no shortage of leads shopping for their next apartment home. Leasing teams are juggling many new responsibilities, such as conducting live virtual tours, and according to Lisa Trosien, President for ApartmentExpert.com, the influx of leads is more than they can handle.
Artificial Intelligence (AI) was mentioned as a tool to optimize an onsite team’s follow-up process. A bot can assist leads with self-qualification before they are handed off to the leasing team. She said, “AI works, but has limitations. You can’t just set it and forget it. Don’t use it to get info from your prospect, and then later send them communications that asks them the same questions over again. People don’t like to answer the same questions twice.”
Pegasus Residential manages thousands of apartments in Georgia, Florida, Alabama, Texas, Louisiana, Tennessee, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Virginia. Their Vice President of Client Services, Laurie Lyons, mentioned during one Apartmentalize session that 60 percent of her leases are signed with no human contact. She elaborated on the importance of data and how she is using it to make their automated processes and bots smarter. Which in turn, is saving their leasing team time and helping to avoid follow-up on unqualified leads.
Lyons said this type of performance has also led to the renaming of some job titles to reflect changing duties and reduced staff to save costs in areas where they became unnecessary.
Not surprisingly, the effect of COVID-19 on the industry was a major topic of discussion during Apartmentalize. The pandemic caused most property owners and operators to turn to technology, such as chatbots and self-guided tours, to keep operations running smooth.
Steve Hallsey, Managing Director for Wood Partners touched on this during “The Theory of Automation: Every Touchpoint Counts” session. He said, “AI will change how onsite staff address customer needs, such as informational inquiries, but it will never replace a person.” Hallsey explained that he believes AI will allow onsite staff to focus their attention on more complex tasks, such as online reviews, ratings, and the customer experience for current residents.
Hiring for data analytics is on the upswing. Crystal Martin, Director of Operations, Leon Capital Group, said her company is seeking analysts who can come in and aggregate the data and present it in actionable ways on dashboards shared portfolio-wide with the team. Its interpretation is key to high performance, and it makes “everyone on the team better at what they do."
Offering smart-home conveniences where renters operate their doors, lighting, and utilities through an app on their phone comes easily and naturally to younger residents. Operators at Apartmentalize reported that for some older residents, they tell them it’s available and, at first, they are scared. Then they show them how easy it is, and they are happy to use it.
AI was a trending subject during the conference, in both sessions and throughout the exposition hall. At the LeaseHawk booth, you may have had the opportunity to meet ACE, an AI-powered virtual leasing assistant.
Unlike other chatbots, ACE uses AI and Natural Language Processing (NLP). ACE conversationally answers your prospect’s phone calls, text messages, and chats—providing a full omnichannel experience for your prospective renters. Watch the video below to hear ACE for yourself and learn how AI will change the way you lease.
For more information about how to leverage artificial intelligence for your properties, or any other tech curiosities, reach out to us at LeaseHawk. We look forward to strategizing with you.
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