MHN Interview: Universal Amenities and Connecting with Different Demographics
Chicago—Do your amenities appeal to different demographics? MHN interviews Diana Pittro, executive vice president, RMK Management, about the different amenities her company has at various properties, which amenities have a universal appeal and what are the most sought after amenities.
MHN: How does RMK connect with different demographics at apartment communities?
Pittro: We do a lot of surveys to see what our residents want. At the application process we also gather some basic census type data for our demographic studies. Certain markets require you cover all varieties of demographic. But if it’s elderly housing or student or military you clearly have a defined market to work with.
MHN: What are some amenities that could appeal to a wide variety of demographics? Do you ever have to swap out amenities to appeal to changing demographics?
Pittro: Universal amenities are fitness centers, business or cyber centers and media rooms. We have found playrooms to be popular at some of our sites. We have done away with pool table areas and tennis courts at most sites. But we do refresh our amenities yearly and restructure as needed. We do full media rooms, and we find business centers for stay-at-home offices a huge success. We also have an indoor spa in a few of our buildings. Pools are a must.
As we renovate sites we add and delete amenities, and as we build new product we analyze amenities programs and restyle them. We now are building a lot of sites with rooftop gardens and terraces and grilling stations with cabanas. Misting stations replace hot tubs in our pool areas. Game rooms with golf walls and interactive systems replace pool tables.
MHN: Do you think business centers will remain in demand with the proliferation of smart phones?
Pittro: I think business centers will remain popular at communities due to many people using them for studying, meetings, training, etc., anything where you’re with someone else. Alternatively, they can be used for when you need privacy.
MHN: You mentioned some green amenities—will they become even more popular, and will renters seek them out?
Pittro: Green amenities are still a work in progress. Non-smoking buildings are very popular and people like them, but at this point I am not sure they seek them out. Once more and more green initiatives are used, they will be more popular as a marketing tool, because once you live in a green building, you do like certain aspects of it.
MHN: How do you market your amenities?
Pittro: We market our programs with a full-blown social media plan. This includes Facebook, Twitter, blogs, email blasts, bar codes, etc. That’s how we reach the masses.