Ten Things To Look Forward To In 2018

As we say so long to 2017, we can’t help but wonder what the New Year is going to catapult our way.

Tech innovations are getting more advanced every day. The nation’s political climate is changing by the minute. Industries have been constantly adapting to our ever-evolving world – especially multifamily – which some say is a late technology bloomer and has plenty of room for growth.

What can we expect from 2018? Here are ten things that we can look forward to:

1. Purple is 2018’s Official Color

Pantone selected ultra violet as the color of 2018: a “dramatically provocative and thoughtful purple shade,” Pantone said. Inventive and imaginative, complex and contemplative and intrigue into what lies ahead.

2. AI and Smart Homes

Remember that Disney Channel movie from the 90s, “Smart House?” Sans the bossy AI-computer named PAT who goes rogue and takes control of the entire house and locks the family inside, smart houses are an actual thing. And smart apartment features are regularly being incorporated into new developments. This trend is not only a luxury; it’s becoming embedded into the workplace, is creating the biggest buzz in HR circles and ids becoming an expectation in apartments as technology becomes more mainstream for consumers.

3. Virtual Reality May Go Mainstream

Or it may not. But VR platforms are really appealing to people these days, and the tech industry is on a roll. We have seen VR enter the multifamily space and it has been steadily growing in the consumer world. Will it make a big jump in popularity in 2018? We’ll see.

4. eCommerce Wins Consumer Race

2018 might be the year eCommerce jumps ahead of traditional retail in the consumer-purchasing race. Online shopping isn’t running out of steam. More and more people find the notion of 2-day shipping or the potential for 2-hour shipping to be very appealing. But will it be too good to be true? It will be interesting to see if package delivery carriers can keep up with the demand.

5. Increased Marketing Automation

More and more industries are adopting marketing automation to keep up with consumers online. Apartment owners and operators have been investing in automation software to streamline processes that are eating up too much time out of leasing associates’ schedules.

6. The 2018 Winter Olympics

Who doesn’t love a good major international multi-sport event? The 2018 Winter Olympics will be held in PyeongChang, South Korea in February. The best from all over unite for days of competition and we root for the Red, White and Blue and always the underdog with the heartfelt story.

7. Redheads Get An Emoji

This is really a thing that’s being voted on by the Unicode Technical Committee. If it’s a “yes,” expect redheads coming to your emoji keyboards in June. Also, being voted upon: a frowning pile of poo. Because the happy poo just isn’t enough.

8. New Entertainment Releases

From movie releases to new TV show series, from new albums to released concert dates, the entertainment industry always churns out new content to look forward to. We hear rumors of a new Beyoncé album, so we will have to wait and see along with the rest of the Beyhive, but 2018 should rock.

9. It’s Not Just Planes That Can Fly

One way to beat stifling rush-hour traffic: fly past it. That could be a reality in the near future, as Uber is set to team with hovercraft creator Kitty Hawk in 2018 in hopes of developing a flying taxi program. Additionally, the bike-share market will continue to evolve. China and parts of Europe are already using a dock less system in which that allows users to park and share rented bikes anywhere using an app or QR code. This will soon enter the U.S. and might cause cities to rethink their current approach.

10. Super Bowl LII

Since the Super Bowl is one of the first things to happen at the beginning of a new year, we spend most of the year pining away for the next one. The 52nd Super Bowl is right around the corner on Feb. 4 at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, and Justin Timberlake is performing sans Janet Jackson. Apartment communities should capitalize on such a celebrated non-official American holiday.

What will 2018 have in store for us? We will have to wait and see but we do wish everyone a healthy and happy year.

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Looking Back on Memorable Moments of 2017

The most anticipated solar eclipse on record. The emergence of bitcoin and continued technology advancement. One of the most devastating hurricane seasons on record. The #MeToo movement. Selena Gomez retained her status as most-followed celebrity on Instagram with more than 130 million and #love was the most used hashtag. Massachusetts earned designation as the healthiest state (shout out to our home state!) followed by the Aloha state Hawaii. Meanwhile, Florida and Utah, experienced the largest improvements. 2017 has certainly been filled with memorable moments.

The multifamily industry produced its share of news as well, as hints of a slowdown were premature and the latest tax bill might prove to have numerous wins for the industry. With that in mind, here are some of the industry’s most noteworthy and memorable moments from the year:

    • Package Concierge® sold to Gibraltar

      An exclusive multifamily partnership was forged when Gibraltar Industries acquired Package Concierge® in February. As the apartment industry’s leading supplier and innovator of electronic package management solutions, and Gibraltar, a leading manufacturer of commercial building products, come together multifamily properties gain access to the most innovative package management solutions. We are excited about what 2018 holds for us and the Gibraltar team!

    • Apartment List getting aggressive with ads

      Apartment List got hard-hitting with its social media marketing strategy by partnering with Facebook and Realtor.com. Now the ILS will display ads more prominently on platforms visited by millions on a daily basis. The move represents the massive shift in the way renters are searching for and finding their apartments online.

    • NMHC/Kingsley survey recognizes package boom

      The emergence of ecommerce is a new-school concept that the largest resident survey didn’t even include package questions on its previous edition. In August, the NMHC/Kingsley Renter Preferences Report unveiled 57 percent of respondents were very interested or highly interested in package lockers. And 47 percent of those individuals indicated that they receive at least three packages a month.

    • New tech companies make waves

      Technology has been shaping many different industries. But the ways it’s playing into the multifamily industry is groundbreaking as it has notoriously behind the tech curve. SOCi, STRATIS and ApartmentJet are the three biggest shake-ups. SOCi is changing the social media and marketing management game. STRATIS is innovating through its mobile access for residents and property managers to adjust energy and automation control for their units. ApartmentJet is the only existing short-term rental platform to assist multifamily operators to generate revenue through vacant units.

    • Bitcoin emerges

      We’ve been hearing about the infamous bitcoin everywhere. So it isn’t surprising the emergence of the digital cryptocurrency has been seeping into multifamily as well. Bitcoin can be used to purchase real estate in the U.S. and other countries.

These are just a few of the defining moments of the past 12 months and some of the apartment industry’s. As we move into 2018, these trends can suggest that even more tech and digital marketing changes are on the horizon.

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Is Your Leasing Team Too Busy?

Your leasing team is an integral part of your company. They’re the public face of the property. They are the key liaison between the management team, the current resident and the prospective resident. Managing incoming packages used to be a minor part of leasing offices duties. But today, maneuvering the influx of package deliveries eats up significant time in the day of a leasing associate.

Some leasing offices are quite literally drowning in resident packages as ecommerce continues its skyward surge. Our data shows that an average 250-unit apartment community receives over 50 packages a day. This number increases three-fold during the holiday season with some communities seeing close to 150 packages come through the doors.

Deliveries can be so time demanding that onsite leasing teams have no choice but to neglect tasks that are more integral to community success. Often companies are limited on the number of staff per property. And adding more personnel is an additional expense.  Sure, leasing teams have time to handle packages, but wouldn’t you rather have your leasing teams performing more valuable tasks?

Giving tours to prospective residents

The community tours are critical to closing with your prospects. Highlighting the key features and amenities that set you apart from your competition is vital to any property tour. Apartment shoppers want to be able to get a good feel of their community, see their next home, and they want to love it. If your leasing associates are tied up with organizing packages in the office, the prospect will move on to the next property that has the time to give them tour of their property.

Addressing resident concerns

One of the most crucial duties of the onsite job is making sure residents are happy and satisfied with their living experience. Addressing resident concerns and servicing the community is of upmost importance and can make or break the community’s reputation – especially online. A majority of happy residents will renew their leases which help retain the high occupancy rate.

Freedom from package duties means spending more time engaging with residents to make sure everything is operating smoothly for them. It’s also a great opportunity to discover upgrades and improvements that can be made to community operations and amenities.

Respond to online reviews

Online reputation management is a necessity of today’s apartment industry. So, having a good ORA rating is a must have. Many prospective renters review the ratings and reviews of every item they purchase, including renting their next apartment and positive ratings and reviews of current residents are key to gaining the new residents. Leasing associates and community managers should be responding to online reviews and maintaining digital content.

Following up on prospect leads

A lot of money is spent on the marketing to attract the new leads for your property. So, how are you going to gain new prospects if you don’t follow up on all your qualified leads? Answer: you’re probably not. Chasing down leads and following up with potential customers are high priorities in the multifamily industry. It’s key to a solid NOI.

These are just a few things the leasing team should be doing instead of grinding away organizing packages. These items make all the difference. And the time adds up quickly when it comes to gaining and attracting and retaining residents.

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Apartment Communities and the Increasing Carrier Companies

As ecommerce continues to grow at an astounding rate, the package delivery process has no choice but to expand.

Not long ago, FedEx and UPS were responsible for most forms of package delivery. Today, there are even more carriers in the delivery race with the innovation of services like UberRush and Roadie. Combine these new delivery services with the increasing number of national retailers – like Costco and Kroger and the recent announcement from the USPS about Sunday deliveries, it might grow increasingly more difficult to determine just who your carrier is.

This trend, naturally, is to offer increased convenience for consumers. But as apartment operators and community managers, are you ready for it?

Apartment communities are constantly devising and revising driver training as package delivery continues to mutate into a much larger entity. Training was a relatively simple task when there were only a few carriers to educate. Now it’s becoming more challenging with the possibility of several different drivers arriving on a daily basis.

The more prepared you are – whether its having a capable package management solution in place or have an all-encompassing training process that can easily be relayed to the endless stream of new drivers – the less likely it is that package management will disrupt your day. Here’s a look at some of the new carriers that will be delivering packages to your communities soon, or more likely, already are:

UberRush

Just like the popular ride-share service drivers are at the ready and those closest to the shipment can retrieve it and shuttle it to its destination. The service also partners and integrates with businesses such as Shopify, Clover, Bigcommerce and 1-800 Flowers to help build deliveries into day-to-day operations.

Roadie

These carriers are similar to Uber, Lyft and Amazon Flex drivers. Like the ride shares, these drivers set their own schedule and work at their convenience. That means apartment communities might see a different driver every time a shipment is delivered. Guiding them to your package locker system and showing them how to operate it can become a repetitive task, which is why it’s best to have a streamlined process in place.

DHL Parcel & eCommerce

For international shipments, a DHL driver might arrive at your community. The service supports work-from-home retailers by offering international and domestic ecommerce services. While the company sometimes seeks out reliable transit to deliver shipment, it offers last-mile delivery in some markets.

The overriding theme is that packages are coming from all angles, and like the ecommerce boom itself, the trend shows no signs of dissipating. Are you ready? If you have a solid solution in place and have educated yourself on the vast amounts of carriers, you’re one step ahead of the game.

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Package Concierge® Unveils Package Concierge Room

We are proud to be the multifamily industry’s preeminent supplier and innovator of digital locker solutions.  It is important for us to always innovate ways to exceed package management needs for both apartment renters and apartment operators.

Today, we’re thrilled to announce the release of a new product designed to further expand the accessibility of package management capabilities industry-wide: Package Concierge Room.

As the latest extension in the Package Concierge locker collection, the Package Room completely eliminates the management burden of handling inbound and outbound packages by providing a designated, secure space for oversized packages that are too large to fit into the lockers. The Package Room can either be utilized as a standalone solution or paired with the Premier or Express Locker series. The overflow space additionally offers the capability to use the room specifically for carrier pick-up of resident shipping and outbound return packages.

“Package delivery continues to be on the rise and this trend isn’t going to let up anytime soon. It’s evident a solution is needed now more than ever to provide both apartment management and residents alike the most robust and convenient package management solutions,” said Georgianna W. Oliver, general manager and founder of Package Concierge. “With the Package Concierge Room, owner/operators are relieved of the burden of package management duties while residents can access their packages whenever is convenient for them. It’s win-win for the industry. Leasing teams will take back their time to focus on customer service instead of package management, and residents have ultimate freedom with shipping and receiving deliveries.”

Package Concierge Package Room Kiosk

A sleek surface-mounted kiosk that includes a 7-inch touch screen, barcode reader, still camera and effortless technology is used to control the Package Room. Automation with property management software creates efficiency for onsite staff and package carriers, allowing for easy drop-off or retrieval abilities. Residents have 24-hour access to retrieve and return packages with the ease of mobile app technology.

A recent survey conducted by the National Multifamily Housing Council on renter preferences indicated that package management is top of mind, with 57 percent of residents saying they are highly interested or interested in package lockers. Almost half of the survey respondents said they receive at least three packages per month.

“The Package Concierge Room answers the package management needs of today while ensuring communities are prepared to manage the package needs of tomorrow,” said Oliver. “Consumer buying trends are changing, and more retailers are offering free or low-cost shipping on large items. Just imagine, an apartment resident can order a new TV on Cyber Monday, have it shipped in two days, and have it securely delivered to the Package Room. It is the ultimate convenience amenity.”

The new Package Room includes:

  • USA-made product
  • Mobile app convenience
  • Sleek-technology kiosk and user-friendly management dashboard
  • Maintenance and test-locker functions
  • Alternative space for carrier pick-up of outbound and return packages
  • Capability of refrigerated appliances for cold-storage deliveries

To learn about Package Concierge’s package management solutions, please visit www.packageconcierge.com.

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Increasing Demand: Renter Survey Indicates Desire for Package Solutions Continue to Rise

High-speed Internet wasn’t a high priority for apartment residents in the past. Nowadays, it’s not only a demand – it’s an expectation.

The preferences of renters will evolve as technology evolves.

At the cusp of that ever-changing concept is the increasing demand for a package solution. According to the 2017 NMHC/Kingsley Renter Preferences Report, 57 percent of those renters surveyed were very interested or highly interested in package lockers. And 47 percent indicated they receive at least three packages per month, which coincides with the interest in package solutions.

The rising expectations correspond with the skyrocketing trend of ecommerce.  One can reasonably project that more than 80 percent of renters will desire a package solution within the next few years. Questions about packages weren’t even included in the 2015 version of the bi-annual renter survey. Since then, we have monopolizing e-commerce giants validating the need for the product and entering the multifamily industry.

Apartment renters are a clever bunch. They notice when a community cannot keep pace with the rising influx of packages. If you don’t believe it, just take a look at community reviews on Yelp, Google or Apartment Ratings.

While package preferences are definitely worth monitoring, here are a few other notable findings from the renter survey, which is the largest ever of apartment residents. More than 272,000 respondents took part.

Other must-have community amenities

Reliable cellphone reception, naturally, is an expectation for renters. Of those polled, 92 percent are interested and 78 percent of those interested won’t least without it. Secure resident parking (88 percent interest) and secure amenity access (84) also rate highly.

Must-have apartment features

We mentioned that high-speed Internet wasn’t always an expectation for renters. Now, 93 percent are interested and 63 percent will not lease without it. That is surpassed only by air conditioning with regard to apartment features, of which 94 percent are interested and 92 won’t rent without.

Renting is a lifestyle, not a necessity for many

People rent for a variety of reasons. Perhaps they just moved to town, are saving for a down payment on a home or are between homes. But the top reported reason, which is a key characteristic of the millennial demographic, is the desire for convenience and flexibility. Twenty-three percent of those polled rated this the primary reason why they rent.

Reviews, short-term rentals gaining popularity

Four out of five renters indicated that reviews influenced their decision, which is a concept that is continuing to evolve. Another growing trend is the desire to generate income through short-term rentals, utilizing home-share services such as Airbnb. This is particularly true among younger renters. Of those aged 25 or younger, 49 percent reported interest in short-term rentals (only 32 percent of those aged 65 or higher were interested).

Preferences of renters will continue to reconfigure, particularly with the onslaught of smart-home technology. The challenge for apartment operators is to keep pace with their demands.

 

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Package Concierge® GM and Founder, Georgianna W. Oliver, Talks with BostonVoyager

Package Concierge® GM and Founder Georgianna W. Oliver is passionate about bringing innovation to the multifamily industry. Recently, she spoke with BostonVoyager about starting Package Concierge and how it changed package management in the apartment industry.

Great things are happening in the world of package management. And we at Package Concierge are thrilled to continue to lead solutions in addressing today’s and tomorrow’s package management needs.

Today we’d like to introduce you to Georgianna Oliver.

Georgianna, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.

Package Concierge was founded in December 2012 in Medfield, MA as the 1st innovative system for packages in apartment buildings. Our first live installation was in October of 2013 at Chelsea Place Apartments in Chelsea, MA. Now, there are over 800 systems (including over 100 in the Boston MSA) across the country and last week we hit the 10m package transaction point.

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?

The biggest struggle was changing the way the property managers thought about ways to manage incoming packages. Before Package Concierge, they had to log, store, notify and retrieve every single package or risk theft if the package was left at an apartment door. Once we had our first installations and the residents fell in love with the convenience, our sales doubled year over year as the industry embraced this new technology.

Read the rest of what Georgianna W. Oliver had to say here.

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INFOGRAPHIC: Package Concierge® Is Committed to Providing the Best Package Management Solution

Did you catch the latest news from Package Concierge®? We are so excited to have surpassed the 10 million packages managed mark!  We are committed  to providing the most innovative, Made-In-America package locker solution. Our software and lockers exceed expectations for both your on-site teams and your residents.

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Technology Implementations Today, Avoid Budget Busters in 2018

Overwhelmed leasing team members were creatively dealing with package management by stacking packages to clear out enough space to get to their desks and start the day.

Sound familiar?

It’s a plight many in the multifamily industry have become privy to. There has been a spike in online ordering but a lack of space to store the overabundance of packages. Currently, Americans spend more than $300 billion annually on online retailers. Community managers, leasing agents and team members burn several hours a week organizing these packages. That organization is just so they’ll have some idea where to look when residents come to pick them up.

To end the madness, communities are adopting package management technologies as a brisk, effective solution. However, communities shouldn’t wait until panic-mode sets in to make the call. Rather than grasping at contingency funds, planning ahead by adding a line item into the 2018 budget to implement a technology that best suits community needs will be a true life saver.

There are five options available to create more efficient package management. When evaluating which is the most appropriate solution for your community, keep in mind factors like your community size, accessibility, possible locations and even your renter demographic.

  1. Package Logging Software: Through this service, residents receive text and email reminders that a package has arrived. This eliminates the steps in which residents call to check if a package has arrived, or a community team member calls the resident to notify them that it’s in. This is a solid option for smaller and midsize communities. It is cost-effective and allows for near-immediate implementation. However, some of the existing hurdles will remain. This solution still requires some staff involvement and doesn’t allow for round-the-clock package retrieval.

  2. Software-Driven Package Rooms: This service remains cost-effective, further reduces staff involvement and allows residents round-the-clock access to retrieve their packages. Residents receive a text and email with a one-time code and their signature is required for entry into the package room. However, privacy and security isn’t as thorough with the packages on shelves rather than in lockers.

  3. Smart Package Room Systems: This is a more technologically savvy version of the software-driven package room and features similar benefits.  Camera footage of those retrieving packages is available to assist with accountability. Licensing fees might also be a little higher. While it offers a high level of security, it still isn’t quite as secure as a package locker system.  Technology innovations are moving towards greater security.

  4. Digital Package Locker Systems: The most convenient solution. It has the highest level of security, greatest privacy and the least amount of staff involvement. It also serves as a 24/7 amenity. This solution is also a future-proof solution, with the capability to incorporate any technological updates into the existing framework. While this solution has the highest upfront capital expenditure, the ROI in staff time saved and resident satisfaction can cover the cost within the first year.

  5. The Full Package Package Management Solution: eCommerce trends are shifting. Residents are ordering more, bigger items and looking to ship items to their friends or family and want an easy way to return items. A key solution is combining the convenience and security of locker systems with the flexibility and size of smart rooms. With lockers installations that can be customized to fit any aesthetic or configured in a variety of ways, this comprehensive solution is primed to meet any future package management needs a community may have. Consider a new comprehensive package center for your residents with secure, easy-to-use lockers next to a smart room with a commercial grade freezer for all possible shipments that need refrigeration, custom shelving units to fit packages of any size or even tables equipped with packaging materials for every carrier. With this solution, the options are truly limitless.

Online package ordering is increasing nearly 10% each year and the trend, if anything, is increasing. If your community team can handle the influx, that’s fantastic. If not, we recommend budgeting now and planning ahead for one of the above solutions.

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#HoustonStrong

We have all been watching the news, concerned about those who live and work in Houston. It is truly heartbreaking to see the devastation they are going through right now. We can only hope the worst is behind them.

Now is the time for us to come together to help those so profoundly impacted by the floods. We need to let them know we are there are them – today, tomorrow and in the weeks and months to come.

Here are some links for organizations currently accepting monetary donations as shared by Huffington Post:

  1. American Red Cross
  2. The Salvation Army
  3. GoFundMe Hurricane Harvey
  4. ASPCA

For in-kind donations, including blood, please check into these organizations:

  1. South Texas Blood
  2. Texas Diaper Bank – currently accepting donations but may take in-kind as well
  3. Feeding Texas

And finally, as an industry, there are ways we can step in to help the residents of Houston – both apartment renters and single-family owners.

  1. Consider offering model and vacant units as temporary housing. Airbnb is waiving its fees right now, this might be an option as well.
  2. Host meals for those who are displaced or for First Responders and volunteers in the field, or even better for all.
  3. Take moment to promote donation channels on your social media channels. Feel free to use this blog post to share some links.
  4. Engage your residents and collect in-kind donations of clothing, toiletries, household items, etc.
  5. If your property is pet friendly, consider becoming a foster to displaced pets. Or wave pet fees for any current residents who want to become a foster. Check out The Animal Defense League of Texas or San Antonio Pets Alive to sign up.

Although the devastation is happening right now, Houston is forever changed and will need assistance for weeks, months and potentially even years to come. I know what the multifamily industry is capable of and I urge you to consider holding donation drives throughout the year to help those in Houston – don’t let this be a one-time donation.

We can all help to build up this community to be #HoustonStrong once again!

~ Much love from the Package Concierge Team

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