Consumers want a customized product experience, but how can Multifamily operators provide it outside of offering a different unit type or accent wall? Sometimes to generate ideas, it helps to look outside of the industry for inspiration.
Enter New York’s La Guardia Airport. On a recent flight to New York, I was blown away by the technology on display in the Delta terminal. Almost every seat, every bench and every table was adorned with its very own iPad. Not only did this provide an amazing customer experience (Delta had branded the skin, navigation and interface of the iPad), but it also allowed travelers to instantly order food or drinks from the nearby restaurants. Each iPad came complete with a credit card station so you could simply order some food, swipe your card and within minutes a waitress from the nearby restaurant appears with your order. While you wait you can browse the web, shop on Amazon (Delta’s Go Go Internet partner) or play a wide variety of games and apps.
I am not sure if the goal was to provide a unique customer experience, to generate additional income for the nearby restaurants or both. However the idea is refreshingly outside of the box and from speaking with a waitress, the feedback has been off the charts.
So how can we use the La Guardia terminal as inspiration in the apartment space? We can start by providing our residents with a fresh and customizable experience. At a recent trip to the NMHC Student Housing Conference in New Orleans, I was intrigued by the vast amount of services that can both provide and individualize product packages for residents and generate ancillary income.
In the past, the generation of ancillary income on a property was predicated on utility packages which require massive service contracts and significant capital investment. Many new services today can be offered on a need by need basis and either bundled into the rent and leveraged as an amenity. This allows apartment operators to offer such services at an additional fee in order to allow a customized customer experience. Residents can choose the type of service package they want from a property and only pay for the features they will use.
What I like most about these products is the low cost and ease of implementation combined with the ability to accurately quantify their influence on our residents and potential renters. While a rich amenity package may assist the Leasing Agents in closing the deal, the actual influence of amenities on the purchasing decision is a shot in the dark. So why not offer your residents the ability to purchase low cost products and services that can be implemented cheaply and easily evaluated?
Below are 3 different asset classes and an example of a product or service that can be offered at each property type.
Class B/C properties:
Rent Track: Rent Track allows residents to build their credit every time they pay rent. For properties that have residents with low credit scores, this is a great selling feature. www.renttrack.com
CLASS A properties:
Purqz: Purqz offers huge discounts to local restaurants and businesses when they sign a lease at your community. This is a huge amenity in an urban class A property. www.purqz.com
Student Housing properties:
Campus Tech Support: Campus Tech Support provides 24 hour hardware and software tech support for a nominal monthly fee. This is a great feature that both parents and students will love and it can be sold on and individual basis for a monthly premium. www.campustechnicalsupport.com