This blog is the third in a series of four posts recapping our engaging December Cadence Connect event. In this session, Our expert panel was made up of hot-topic vendors - David Staley from Digible, Mike Whaling from 30 Lines, Jackie Wint-Gaehwiler from Knock CRM, and Michelle Murphey from SmartRent - that addressed some of multifamily marketers’ most burning questions this year. Keep your eye on our blog for the remaining posts, and be sure to watch for information on the next Cadence Connect event!
The third portion of our conversation was all about AI and self-guided tours. These topics have been on our radar for quite some time, but with the rapid development of new technology in our industry, we wanted to hear about the latest and greatest. Below are our takeaways from our key questions during this portion of the conversation - also reference the event recording here starting at 55:44.
1. How can AI be best utilized in our industry?
Mike Whaling was quick to point out that using AI technology isn’t meant to replace our current processes and technology, it is meant to complement it. AI can help get us through tedious tasks and data analysis so we can identify key trends and make impactful improvements. However, he also noted that we are barely scratching the surface of all that AI can do.
Jackie from Knock agreed, noting it is not one or the other between AI and a CRM. Both are necessary and when used together can create great efficiency within the leasing process. Mike and Jackie also both agreed that AI will not replace people within the leasing process - some sort of human touch and involvement is necessary within almost every leasing transaction. The property brand and people are really what can differentiate you from your competition.
While there are certainly prospects who are accustomed to automated self-serve systems, there are still many who want a human experience to take them through this big decision - it is "home" after all.
2. Why self-guided tours?
Michelle from SmartRent shared data that 49% of the current market share is made up of renters under 30 years old. This demographic understands and appreciates technology and a digital experience. Because a seamless digital experience and instant gratification are the expectation, there is a need to implement new technology into the traditional leasing process.
Out of a SmartRent sample of 500 prospects that did self-guided tours, 37% of prospects concluded that they were satisfied and didn’t need a leasing agent. 27% still had additional questions after the tour and needed to speak with an agent, further establishing the importance of offering both options. Michelle also shared that 40% of self-guided tours are happening on a tour now or “drive-by” basis and many times fall outside of office hours. When you think of this volume of tours as ones that would have been missed out on without this option, you are faced with a large opportunity cost.
3. How does AI and other technology play into leasing?
It is no secret that the responsibilities and expectations of a leasing agent are never-ending and incorporating technology and AI into the leasing process can create efficiencies that free up a bit of extra time in the day for our on-site teams.
Mike and David agreed that AI is currently being underutilized in the leasing process, and that adding even a 3 step drip campaign to follow up with prospects and personalizing the messages based on the source of the lead can take a great deal of follow up off of a leasing agent’s plate. Because of the increased complexity of the leasing process, strategizing how and where technology fits into the process and providing agents with in depth training is necessary to provide prospects with a seamless leasing experience.
Additionally, marketers and trainers need to be focused on training to the experience, not just the tools. The traditional leasing process is long gone and we need to be able to quickly understand where the prospect is in their journey and their research to be able to pick up seamlessly with the conversation without frustrating them with the same questions again. It can be a very sophisticated experience, or it can fall very flat.