It’s summer, summer, summertime. Now that you have the Will Smith song running through your head, let’s talk about how in demand your common-area amenity spaces are suddenly.
From resident-hosted barbecues to pool parties, I can venture to say your onsite teams are getting inundated with requests to reserve your common spaces. And I would also venture to guess they either wrote the request on a sticky note as a ‘to be added to the calendar’ or scribbled it into a reservations binder.
If your property is using these ineffective and inefficient methods to reserve spaces like guest suites, clubhouses, tanning beds and massage rooms for residents, it can waste your staff’s time and inadvertently lead to double bookings—or even missed reservations altogether. And that creates real and unnecessary frustration for both your associates and your residents.
Fortunately, a community can avoid this problem with resident-centric technologies.
Meet Them Where They Are
Communities would do well to offer their residents a mobile app that, among other things, allows them to reserve common-area spaces for personal use. When such a feature is included in an app, everyone—staff and residents alike—can easily and quickly see the reservation status of an amenity and prevent accidental double bookings.
As a way to allow residents to interact with your community, mobile apps make a ton of sense. Consider: the average American spends five hours a day on his or her phone, and they’re using an app for 92 percent of that time, according to data from Hackernoon.com. This is where today’s resident is, so it’s where apartment communities need to be, too.
Consumers nowadays are used to doing virtually everything on their phones. A well-designed, resident-centric app is different than an app from a property management software as it puts control of the renter experience into a resident’s hand. Through the app, they can pay their rent, place service requests, receive notices about package deliveries, read announcements from management and easily communicate with fellow renters.
Apps can also prove particularly useful when it comes to reserving common-area amenities. Communities often track these reservations through a somewhat cumbersome process. Residents will email or call the office to reserve a space, and onsite associates will track reservations on an Excel spreadsheet or even an office blackboard. With all the demands on their time, it’s understandably easy for associates to forget to enter amenity reservations. In the worst-case scenario, two residents show up to a common area at the same time, each thinking they have a reservation.
But with the right app, the process can be a much smoother one for both residents and associates. The app can show residents exactly when a certain space is available. It’s like those airplane seating charts that consumers can view when buying a ticket. As soon as a reservation is made for an amenity, that space and time are marked as unavailable to other residents. Using their app, residents can then reserve an amenity at an available time.
An app can allow renters to make a reservation effortlessly and be confident in knowing they will truly be able to use the space. Meanwhile, by not having to track reservations through emails and Excel spreadsheets, onsite team members have one less thing to worry about.
A Boon to Community Events
Apps can also help boost attendance for the onsite events that communities often hold in common areas. Emails promoting these occasions can often get lost in a resident’s inbox, and renters are all too likely to breeze by flyers hyping the events.
But given their comfort with and heavy use of apps, residents are quite likely to read and respond to announcements about community events that appear within their community app.
In fact, apps can offer multiple avenues—such as a community bulletin board and an events calendar—for promoting an event. A bulletin board gives residents a chance to discuss the event with other residents, urge their neighbors to attend and also make suggestions to management about things they would like to see at the event.
Even better, operators should make sure their community app give residents the ability to RSVP for events, which can allow team members to have a true handle on what attendance will be. When associates have a real understanding of how many residents will be attending, they can adjust their budget for the event, the allocation of other resources and even the timing of the event as needed.
In the days leading up to an event, an app can also be an efficient way to send out reminders to those residents who have indicated they will attend.
Operators must constantly evaluate how they can use emerging technologies to bolster their operations and improve the resident experience. With a carefully designed app, operators can make sure their residents are fully enjoying amenities and onsite events. And with summer reaching its zenith, your residents are surely ready to take full advantage of your community’s amenities.
Nikole Loveless is the business manager for Constellation Apartments, a Pinnacle-managed apartment community in Las Vegas.