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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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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Hardwire Internet has important edge over Wi-Fi for Apartments

The world is linked by wireless Internet, but even Wi-Fi can experience some connection tangles from time to time.

While, Wi-Fi is a more popular, widely used method of Internet connection these days, don’t be so quick to bail on the good ol’ Ethernet cord – at least for the backend of your apartment community. Wi-Fi is more convenient and tops the resident demand list, but a trusty hardwire connection is immensely more secure and challenging to hack.

Convenience is a great sell, and your property probably won’t meet its occupancy goals without wireless access for daily use in your resident’s apartment homes. You have to have it. Although, when it comes to operations, nothing beats top-notch security, especially digital security, which some residents don’t realize they actually need.

The Package Concierge Premier system is eye catching at Blair Tower.As more apartment communities begin to rely on Internet connection for day-to-day operational functions, like rent payment portal sites and electronic package locker systems, property managers should consider some of the pitfalls of a wireless connection before rolling up the Ethernet cables for good:

Wi-Fi signals commonly drop with interference

Wireless doesn’t have as stable an Internet connection as a hardwire because it only works within a certain range, and is more susceptible to interference and objects blocking the signal. Any wireless user can vouch a Wi-Fi signal can get pretty feisty.

In an apartment community, if the wireless were to go out, it could disable an entire system that operates via Internet. If Wi-Fi loses a signal during a streamed video or game, it’s an annoyance. If the signal goes out at an apartment community running package lockers or a security gate system, it potentially puts residents’ safety and possessions at risk.

Wireless offers easier setup, less return on investment

A downfall of hardwired Internet is the setup and connection takes a bit more time and work to configure than Wi-Fi. However, hardwire is a vastly more consistent, and even faster, connection once it’s up and running. Property managers will get back what they put into setting up a more secure connection system for residents.

The return on investment from a hardwire connection is worth the initial time. Residents are more likely to use something that works efficiently, without many issues. Wi-Fi is quicker and easier, but will likely have more problems down the road, draining management’s time and energy and taking associates away from other important community tasks.

Not as much data protection

Since hardwired Internet is more difficult to hack, it is also better equipped to guard data than a password-protected, private Wi-Fi connection. When overseeing many different residents in an apartment community, data protection is crucial not only for the management’s sensitive and private information, but also for the protection of residents’ personal information and privacy.

Wireless encryption standards are always being changed because the connection is just not safe. With a hardwire everything is contained.

Of course, we are not suggesting to move to hardwire.

Smartphones have drastically changed the way we must think about cyber security and wi-fi capabilities.

Cell phones use wireless connection, so different resident and community apps are exclusively Wi-Fi driven. However, keep in mind, some community amenities that utilize Internet can benefit from connection via hardwire, like [Package Concierge’s] electronic package locker systems.

Wi-Fi is definitely convenient and a must-have amenity that residents demand in their homes. However, for an apartment community on an operational level, it’s not necessarily offering residents the security and reliability they need, which hardwire provides.

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Catch Residents with Pokémon Go!

Pokémon GoPokémon Go Can Help Multifamily

On July 6th, 2016, an event of monumental proportions happened: Pokémon Go was released. The game has already revolutionized mobile gaming and is uniting people across all generations. Niantic Inc. developed the game through a licensing deal with Nintendo, the majority stakeholder of the franchise. The deal has proven to be fruitful; Nintendo’s market value jumped an astounding $7.5 billion since release! The game is simple: “catch” Pokémon with your phone in different areas of cities and towns. The game is a based on “geolocation,” GPS locations and landmarks, so one has to walk around to progress through the game. There are “Pokestops” and “Gyms” where people can get rewards, play against other Pokémon and find new Pokémon. So why should you care? This can be a golden marketing opportunity for multifamily communities. You can actually drive potential residents to your property with the game!

Pokémon Go is a “free to play” style game. This means that one can play for free, but upgrades are purchasable through an online store. One of those items is a “Lure Module,” which draws Pokémon to a certain location for 30 minutes. They cost about 99 cents per lure. The lures need to be set within proximity of a Pokestop (currently). Your community may already be a Pokestop or Gym; you just need to check in the game. Super geeky, right? Well, businesses have caught on and are driving traffic to them because people playing see where lures are and stop to get the free items. So how can a multifamily community benefit?

Marketing With Pokémon Go

If you could set lures or Pokestops at and around your property, you have a lead generation tool at your fingertips. In an interview with the Financial Times, Niantic C.E.O. John Hanke said that “sponsored locations” are coming to Pokémon Go. When this becomes available, why not set Pokestops around key amenities on-site? The pool, the gym, the locker system, the clubhouse, etc.; the list goes on and on! While people of all ages are playing the game, Millennials are playing the game the most (it’s a nostalgia thing). You can put the word out on social media about having a “Pokémon Tour” around the property. When the event starts, have players provide their contact information and walk them around the property to the different stops. They get Pokémon while you’re showing off key amenities and layouts to potential residents! It’s a win/win for everyone!

What about a “Pokémon Go Mixer” for current residents? Provide food and drinks while setting up Pokestops around the property. Have residents team up in groups and send them around the property to collect their goods. This will encourage meeting new neighbors and friends. Right now, you can lead residents around the area and collect Pokémon and items. Pair this with your other marketing initiatives (are you live streaming yet?) and you’ll have current and future residents hooked.

Get Ahead of the Game

In conclusion, this is a huge opportunity to show off your community and gain some new faces. Pokémon Go is still very new and Niantic is working out the bugs and creating more features. The ideas above are just a few examples of how your multifamily community can capitalize on the excitement as new content and features are released. So go out there and “Catch ‘Em All”… residents that is!

To play and learn more, download Pokémon Go from the iTunes App Store or Google Play Store.

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Living out of a Box: The Rise of Subcom

subcom

Subcom in a Box

Mail carriers across the globe are feeling the strain of increased package deliveries. If you’ve been keeping up to date on our blog posts, we’ve discussed this online retail boom. There are the obvious contributors such as Amazon.com, Wal-Mart, Apple and Staples, but a new category is making waves. It’s not the newest concept, but since 2010, this category has made a huge impact in how people shop. That category is subscription box services or “subcom” for short.

Birchbox. Dollar Shave Club. Plated. These subcom services differ in their products but offer a central idea. They deliver goods to millions of Americans alone on a weekly, bi-weekly or monthly basis. A customer simply enters their payment information, and like clockwork, boxes appear at the door. They only stop if the customer cancels or changes the subscription. It allows a “set and forget” type of shopping. Instead of going to the local drug store for razors, why not just pay a flat fee to have them delivered to your door once a month? And the category isn’t only limited to toiletries and food; if you can dream it, there’s a service for it.

Subcom Offers Life in a Box

Ranging from $10 and up, the subcom model was born out of convenience. No longer does one have to spend hours grocery shopping; just sign up for Blue Apron and have 3 meals delivered to your door once a week. Hate shopping for new clothes? Try Trunk Club, where clothing is handpicked by stylists for your size and tastes. Like what’s inside? They just charge your card for what you keep after mailing back the rest. No stores. No lines. No hassle.

So what does this mean for multifamily? We think the subcom model will only gain in popularity, meaning more deliveries to communities. Properties are already seeing 15% to 50% increases in deliveries with no signs of slowing down. Not all subscription box services will last but the idea is here to stay. The Blue Aprons (valued at $500 million) and Birchboxes ($96 million in sales) of the world aren’t going anywhere. Convenience is king and it doesn’t get any easier. A Millennial alone already gets 22 to 24 packages per year and being the most tech-savvy group the world has ever seen, subcom will continue to grow. If you haven’t future proofed your property yet, now might be the best time to do so.

 

 

 

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Future Proofing for Packages

future By Georgianna W. Oliver, Founder & CEO of Package Concierge

The Future Is Just Around The Corner.

To use a term I credit to Jennifer Coogan at Avalon Bay, “future proofing” your community is essential to assure you are not only meeting the resident demands of today but also preparing for future demands. Can you imagine your current holiday-season package rush becoming the year-round norm for your property?

Currently, one of our clients receives over 600 packages per day on one property. They currently have the package situation under control, but will it be enough in future years? Smaller properties with less than 250 units can probably handle the influx of packages more easily, as they currently average 40 package deliveries a day. But larger properties are more complicated and will require a more robust future proofing plan.

For the Package Concierge team, that means arming you with the innovations and technologies to manage the escalation of packages in the future. We accept the challenge of continually innovating our technology to address all of a community’s package-handling needs, now and in the future.

A Solution That Matters

Our high-quality lockers are designed to resist wear and tear. Our advancing technology handles all aspects of delivery and provides a secure method of communication between the locker system and residents. It also features the industry’s only mobile app.

We offer all the tools and reporting needed for the management of packages. Returns and shipping capabilities are coming soon as well. But, it is not enough. Today, we are addressing overflow options and developing a Package Concierge Smart RoomTM solution to meet the needs of tomorrow.

We understand package management solutions are more than locker systems or smart rooms. To that end, we are in constant communication with communities to improve our training for UPS, Fedex, and USPS carriers, discuss data management and advise about how to handle Uber and Lyft drivers showing up on-site to deliver more and more packages.

The solutions for handling packages will continue to evolve and so will the engineers at Package Concierge. We are working to stay ahead of the curve. You can count on that.

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Package Concierge and MTEC 2016

MTEC: Shape Your Future

MTEC Not all conferences are created equal. They come in many different shapes and sizes while staying true to a central idea. Package Concierge tries to attend as many as possible and we’re excited for our next one: The Multifamily Technology and Entrepreneurship Conference (MTEC for short). This exciting event has a lot to offer to those working on a new product or company idea in multifamily.

Held at the InterContinental San Francisco, MTEC is not a technology show despite the name. The conference’s main focus is education and networking for the industry’s entrepreneurs. If you’re a startup in multifamily, this conference is where you need to be. This isn’t just a social hangout; attendees are CEOs and private equity investors alike. On the conference’s website, MTEC states, “Conference speakers and advisors include some of the most successful multifamily entrepreneurs of the last decade.” Anyone has a great chance at making the right connections through MTEC.

The broad range of the conference is also another reason why MTEC is so exciting. From lead generation to energy management solutions, you’re going to learn something new. Panel discussions will be running throughout both days and led by the best of our industry. Our founder and CEO, Georgianna Oliver, will be participating in a panel about the Internet of Things (IoT) and multifamily. New business opportunities are popping up for the industry since connectivity is everything. Others joining the discussion are Felicite Moorman, CEO of StratISDavid Taylor, Senior Vice President and Chief of Operations of WaterSignal; and Ron Reed, SVP, Utility Management of RealPage, Inc. serves as moderator.

MTEC 2016 promises to deliver a networking and educational event to remember. Full of insights and opportunities, everyone in attendance will take away something. Whether it’s a few connections or new ideas, it’s a win either way. Interested in attending? See below for details and we hope to see you in San Francisco.

Register here

MTEC 2016

June 14 & 15

12:00pm – 12:00pm

InterContinental San Francisco

888 Howard Street

San Francisco, CA 94103

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