Snap Session: Leasing During Social Distancing and Beyond
- May 11, 2020
Contactless delivery has become a buzzword during this pandemic, with apartment operators adapting to protect the health of their residents and employees. Multi-Housing News hosted a 30-minute “Snap Session” webinar with John Doyle, co-founder of the on-demand rental touring mobile application Tour24, to explore how self-guided tours are evolving and becoming more popular recently with the COVID-19 crisis.
“The current pandemic has pushed the evolution forward in self-guided tours,” said Doyle, calling on apartment operators to follow the preference for self service among Gen Z and Millennials. Apartment managers can post appealing photos of the units on their websites, but that may not be enough anymore. “Around 80 percent of people want to actually view a prospective living space in person,” said Doyle, referencing a recent survey.
Self-guided tours provide the prospective resident with flexibility and the assurance of a contactless leasing experience. “What is going to make a successful self-guided tour for a prospect is really using technology,” said Doyle.
A verification process can be set up to ensure that the prospect has no ulterior motives for entering the property. With Tour24, for instance, a third-party verification service checks both an ID and a credit card in advance of the tour. Other security measures include access only during the prospect’s scheduled time. Smart lock technology can protect amenities or restrict access to certain areas.
Those restrictions expand foot traffic potential for property managers, giving them flexibility to schedule tours after hours, according to Doyle. It also allows the tour to take place if the leasing agent has an emergency or otherwise can’t keep an appointment.
And the technology allows the property operator to create a curated tour that highlights the various amenities and showcases the model unit. To match the personalized experience that prospective residents receive from a leasing agent, Doyle recommends applications that have a chat box pop up. “We want to have the opportunity for (the prospects) to contact the leasing staff should they have additional follow-up questions,” he noted.
Innovative features inside these self-guided tour applications include geolocation beacons. Tour24 has beacons placed along the tour path that can let staff know where the prospect is and when they left the property. This information can later be used to determine what is important to the prospect and where they are spending most of their time, according to Doyle.
At the end of the tour, Doyle recommended, the prospect should be connected with an online leasing application. “(Tour24) is averaging around a 30 to 33 percent conversion rate of tours to leases,” he said. “That’s better than the industry average for guided tours: A good leasing agent has a closing ratio of around 25 to 28 percent.”