B2B Gift Giving – It Can Be Thoughtful & Notable

Holiday gift shopping for business clients can either be complex or painless, depending on your approach. While unique gifts may be memorable, such creativity requires extra time, and effort which are always hard to come by. The quintessential, go-to gifts are quick, time-tested classics that seldom fail – but they are not as impactful.

A rule of thumb for holiday gift giving such as sweets and alcohol are universally savored items. But how many people are getting that this year? Almost everyone.

Many businesses will send the standard chocolate and wine bundles to their clients for the holidays. Although the majority of people will happily knock back a tray of Fannie May fudge with a bottle of full-bodied red, there are some other overlooked present options that will surely make you stand out. Neiman Marcus offers a lot of fun, unique and memorable gift ideas.

Here are some options to spice up your B2B gift giving this season:

Leather messenger bags

Everyone needs luggage to tote around all of their most needed daily items, and leather is one classic trend that will never go out of style. For men or women, a nice leather messenger bag is a functional gift with a touch of luxury.

Tech gadgets and gifts

Everyone has a few tech minded friends and clients, but some tech items can break the bank. This fun site, ThinkGeek, always sparks a few creative juices to flow and ability to find a few one of a kind items. However, another fail safe, is a power bank. How many times have you misplaced your phone charger, left it at work or been caught out running errands with dead electronics? Mobile power banks or charging gear is something every person will value, because every person has something that needs to get plugged into a wall at some point or another.

Slippers

Work slippers are a thing now? Seriously, some businesses require their employees to wear slippers at work…as it’s now part of the company dress code (looking at you, millennials). Give slippers to your clients – even if they can’t wear them at work. Who doesn’t love spending their NFL Sundays in nothing but pajamas and slippers? Or if you just want to go the warm and cozy route, check out these gifts for less than $100 from Ugg.

Uncommon ideas

You can put any type of liquid you want in a coffee mug and drink it conveniently. And here’s the best part: everyone drinks. You can take it up a notch and combine coffee and donuts with this amazing mug from Uncommon Goods (seriously why did we think of this?!) and combine with a dozen donuts from LA classic Stan’s Donuts who ships nationwide.

Subscription services

This is pretty broad, but it depends entirely on the client. A nice, personalized gift for business clients can be a subscription for something that client values or represents the relationship between your companies. Do they go to a particular media outlet or love a certain magazine? Get them a digital magazine subscription.

For the places that value healthy lifestyles, subscriptions to meal delivery services could be hugely beneficial to employees. Graze is one option that delivers healthy snack boxes.

There are many different opportunities to get special, meaningful gifts for your clients. Really look at your bond and come up with different ideas that correlate to your connection. Happy shopping and remember it is always better to give than receive.

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Package Concierge® GM and Founder Georgianna W. Oliver Helps You Prep for the Holiday Package Rush

The holidays are right around the corner. Black Friday is eight days away and Cyber Monday is 10 days. Are you prepared to handle the holiday package rush headed to your property? Check out this Multi-Housing News Viewpoint from Package Concierge® General Manager and Founder Georgianna W. Oliver where she shares tips on how you can prep for this holiday season.

For apartment residents, the thought of an abundance of holiday packages is an enticing prospect. For a community manager and onsite team, it can be a lot to handle over a short period of time.

Package delivery continues at historic rates, and that trend is only exacerbated during the holidays. The communities unequipped to handle the mass influx can risk getting buried in a virtual sea of holiday shipments, a vast array of multi-sized boxes that can easily clog leasing offices and protrude out the door.

But it doesn’t have to be that way. More and more apartment operators and individual communities have discovered ways to ease the holiday burden. And, most importantly, ensure their residents happily receive their shipments safely and after office hours. Here are a few tips for conquering the holiday package rush:

Train and work with delivery teams

Whether it’s a traditional carrier such as FedEx or the U.S. Postal Service or something more cutting-edge such as UberRUSH, they need to know the drill at your community. The quicker you can communicate your desired process, the more rapidly you can pass along the packages to your residents.

Many of these outlets will have repeat carriers or even an exclusive delivery individual that comes to your property, so training them won’t be too cumbersome of a task. But it’s wise to have a process in place for each new carrier as well, a uniform training tutorial that is ready to be implemented.

Encourage residents to utilize ship-from-store and peer-to-peer shipping apps…

Want to learn more? Read her full article.

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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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Package Concierge® Delivers for Canvas LA

Canvas LA, a downtown Los Angeles luxury apartment community, offers more than 25 different floor plans of studio to three-bedroom units. The community includes resort-style amenities and aims to cater its residents. Canvas LA began using a package locker system from Package Concierge in March.

Challenge | Relieve management over-burdened with resident packages 

As a result of the rising popularity of online shopping, Canvas LA’s management team had become increasingly swamped with the influx of resident packages.

William Corwin, Canvas LA’s senior business manager, said the 210-unit apartment community sometimes received as many as 65 to 70 packages in one day. And that number was continually climbing.

“It was just getting too overwhelming for us in the office,” Corwin said. “We spoke to the owners about the package challenge because it was just taking up too much of our time.”

Corwin said management’s initial plan budgeted package lockers for 2018. But the package problem needed an immediate fix.

The Canvas LA leasing team was spending upwards of three hours a day on packages. The time spent on deliveries was taking away from overseeing other duties. They couldn’t focus on community tours, maintenance requests and ensuring smooth day-to-day operations.

Solution | Sophisticated Technologies

Online shopping has been on the rise, and will continue to devour the consumer market. Internet sales made up 3 percent of consumer expenditure in 2006, and rose to 15.5 percent in 2016.

With such a growing preference for online shopping, especially among Canvas LA’s predominant demographic of young professionals, the solution to relieving management of package duties was to install a Package Concierge package locker system in the community.

Package Concierge had the edge over other systems because of its sophisticated technology.

“Some of the locker systems we considered, you get an email that gives you a number for each package. Then you go to a kiosk, punch in the number and it opens the locker,” Corwin said. “We love the fact that there is an app for Package Concierge. We also love that, when a resident gets their pin code number, if they have five packages, all of the lockers open.

Results | Diminished package hardship in office, satisfied residents

Three weeks after installing the Package Concierge package locker system, 71 percent of Canvas LA residents had already signed up.

The demand of Canvas LA’s onsite team to handle the increased volume of packages was mitigated after installing the locker system. Management has more time to focus on other issues affecting the community. Packages are more accessible than ever to residents.

“The residents are loving it. And of course we’re loving it in the office now that we’re not spending two to three hours a day logging packages and going through the process of contacting residents and giving them out,” Corwin said.

“We’re extremely happy. It’s a sophisticated but really easy-to-use system.”

Package Concierge Silver Speck 88-locker Installation at Canvas LA

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Superstitions Amok: Friday the 13th Brings Out the Most Irrational of Fears

Some people are naturally superstitious. Others pay little attention to curses, hexes, jinxes, voodoo, broken mirrors, spilled salt, the occult or any misfortune causing force. But even the most non-superstitious individual takes pause at Friday the 13th, particularly when its October 13th. Let’s take a peek at the some of the notable and more bizarre superstitions that accompany the “holiday.”
Triskaidekaphobia: This is the fear of the No. 13 itself. It’s not surprising that many people shy away from the number.  It’s closely associated with the vastly successful Friday the 13th movie series and the omnipresent slashing knife of villain Jason Voorhees. What is surprising is that there is an actual term to describe this fear. Many shy away from 13 at all costs. Whether it’s avoiding it as a uniform number, opting against buying a house with the number in the address or just plain creeping out whenever they see it. Others, in a contrarian move, embrace the number and instead believe it offers good luck.
Fear of the day itself: According to a study by British publication Mirror, the 14th most common fear among Brits is “Worried about Friday the 13th approaching.” Avoiding the number 13 – ahem, triskaidekaphobia – ranked No. 15 and fear of the No. 666 ranked 17th. The top three on the list were walking under a ladder, knocking on wood and blessing someone after they sneeze. Ranking last on the list of 30 was never giving gloves as a present. Hmm.
Oh, and there’s actually a term for fear of Friday the 13th, too. Make sure to include it in your phone’s dictionary, because it’s probably not there: paraskevidekatriaphobia.
If you cut your hair on Friday the 13th, you will die: Perhaps that new style or trim can wait until the weekend. You know, just in case. Many also avoid beginning a trip on this day.  It’s a popular myth that if a funeral procession passes you on Friday the 13th, you will be the next to die. Others believe that any child born on Friday the 13th is essentially brought into the world under hex – as if that child had a choice.
While it’s difficult to point to the origin of Friday the 13th fears before pop culture exacerbated them, they have become a staple of society. According to National Geographic, behavioral scientist Jane Risen of University of Chicago Booth School of Business discovered that superstitions can even influence nonbelievers. Risen found many believe they can jinx themselves by talking about something, such as stating they’ll not get into a car wreck.
That, too, trends into pop culture. Baseball is the most superstitious of sports. Baseball players believe talking about a teammate’s no-hitter while it’s happening will undoubtedly jinx it. When the opposing team gets that first hit, blame is assigned to the player who brought it up. Watch out NY Yankees & Houston Astros in your game this evening….
Now go enjoy your day, if you dare. Remember the black cat that sauntered in front of you was no different than a tan dog doing the same. Just keep telling yourself that.
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What to Expect this Holiday Shipping Season – It Doesn’t Have to be a Jungle Out There

The holidays are right around the corner and so is holiday shipping. Black Friday is eagerly sitting on top of a massive pile of delivery packages with a Grinch-esque smile on its face just waiting for the festivities to begin.

As we enter the last months of the year, peak gift-giving season is upon us. Shopping and holiday shipping are about to get wild.

Online shopping industry continues to flex its market muscles as the go-to method. But the aura of the holiday season still holds a strong draw towards brick-and-mortar stores. Yes, people will still ship gifts purchased in person as opposed to ordering online. And with the emergence of shipping and returning apps, holiday gift shipping is going to be in full force this year.

Aside from cost-savings, a chief advantage to this shipping is that you don’t have to wait in line at the Post Office or FedEx. Stores like Crate & Barrel and Nordstrom’s will ship in-store purchases directly to an address. Now you don’t have to worry about dealing with that on your own.

Another popular trend, “ship-from-store,” is where brick-and-mortar retailers fulfill online orders from stores nearby; not from distribution centers miles away. This helps retailers stay competitive against e-commerce giants and also offers the customer faster shipping at lower costs and reduced markdowns.

But the game-changer in retail shipping is the peer-to-peer shipping app.

Dubbed Uber for shipping, apps like Roadie, Dolly, UberRush and more connect drivers/transporters and senders. Anything from packages to pets can be transported this way.  Apps like these, either for local or international shipments, are especially handy for holiday shipping.

The changing landscape of peer-to-peer shipping is something the multifamily industry should be cognizant of.  Many apartment communities have already had to come up with package management solutions with the influx of deliveries from the rise of online shopping. But many are still manually holding deliveries in the back office instead of in package lockers. A strong package management solution ensures the office staff is able to keep up with all the incoming deliveries. And it will also make peer-to-peer shipping much easier as well.

Regardless of where the package is coming from, technology has made shipping easier and more convenient for everyone. Contact us to get your package management solution installed before the holiday rush.

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Disrupting the Norm: Multifamily Executive Exclusive with Georgianna W. Oliver

We are proud to share this article on how our founder, Georgianna W. Oliver, continues to disrupt the norm with her entrepreneurial expertise and enhance the practices within the multifamily industry.

Expert Tips on How to Disrupt Multifamily – For the Better

Package Concierge Creator Georgianna Oliver shares her experience and knowledge from having owned several start-ups

by: Jennifer Castenson

Some people are born to disrupt things. Like self-proclaimed “serial entrepreneur” Georgianna Oliver.

Oliver has introduced several innovations to the multifamily housing industry in the past decade, including Package Concierge, one of the earliest automated package-locker systems for apartment properties. She also created AptBudget, a Web-based budgeting solution, and EverGreen Solutions, a technology-focused consultancy that helped owner–operators manage major technology implementations or moves from one property management system to another. (The latter two products have since been acquired by RealPage.)

What’s behind Oliver’s seemingly magical creativity? Read the full article here.

 

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Hurricane Preparedness: Stock up on Supplies, Know Safe Spots

One hurricane already has landed on U.S. soil. Another is about to do so. And a third could be on the way if Hurricane Juan builds momentum. Hurricane preparedness is the utmost importance now.

It’s a small measure of relief that technology allows near-precise timeliness of when and where these devastating acts of nature will make impact. Technology can also help you best prepare for disaster.

In the case of Hurricane Irma, residents in Florida, the Gulf Coast and the eastern seaboard had more than a week’s warning for the most powerful Atlantic hurricane on record.

While that doesn’t soften the potential impact for apartment residents and operators, it gives them more sufficient time to prepare. As many go to local shops and stores to get supplies the result is often bar shelves. However, a few-day window exists to utilize online shopping. Apartment communities could see a gigantic rush of supplies ranging from non-perishable foods, flashlights, batteries and other survival-type goods.

This is also the time for property managers to have a firm emergency plan intact. It is vital to have procedures in place to notify residents and team members. This isn’t the time to ignore evacuation orders or the advice of first responders.

But no matter how direct, widespread or valuable the advice, some will choose to wait out the storm. In fairness, south Florida apartment developments are better prepared for a hurricane after 1992’s Hurricane Andrew. Construction standards have increased, windows are designed to withstand high impact and most new developments can absorb winds of up to 175 mph. But that doesn’t mean newer apartment communities can be perceived as an impenetrable fortress when hurricanes approach.

For those who plan to stay – or end up caught in an apartment community during a hurricane – here are a few survival tips:

Remain in the stairwell of your building

This is generally the safest place you can be, as it is the sturdiest part of any high-rise. The cooling tower atop the building also is built to withstand exceedingly heavy winds, particularly in newer buildings. The drawback with both these options is that you’ll be difficult to reach in the aftermath of the emergency.

Keep windows closed and balconies clear

These precautions might seem apparent enough. But the slightest gap in an open window can allow the storm to enter and could create a suction effect. Some might be tempted to open windows because the loss of power means the loss of air conditioning, which can create brutal inside temperatures.

Stay clear of low lying areas and windows

Although many believe the threat of danger elevates the higher you go, the most devastating impact typically occurs at ground level. That’s largely because ground-level items often stay close to the ground when they are uprooted and tossed through the air. And even though many new apartment communities feature glass that can withstand significant impact, stay as far away as possible despite the inclination to watch what’s happening outside.

Elevator situation

If you safely wait out the storm and live on a higher floor, be mindful of the elevator situation. Shifting in a building typically equates to elevator problems, and they could be inoperable for the foreseeable future. So if you live on the 25th floor, be ready for an abundance of stair climbing each time you come and go.

Here’s hoping that hurricane season passes quickly and with as little damage as possible. For those in the path, stay vigilant, stay prepared and stay safe.

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Tiny House. Big Impact.

Tiny housing making big impact on combating homelessness in America

Affordable housing and providing access to quality housing is a vital social responsibility for the multifamily industry and something that is near and dear to the heart of Package Concierge, especially founder and CEO Georgianna W. Oliver. As such, we wanted to share with you this blog from Andy Helmer, CEO of Shelters to Shutters, a national non-profit working to help combat homelessness, on how our industry can make a difference.

The fight to end homelessness in this country is a massive undertaking. About 3.5 million Americans experience homelessness each year, according to the National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty. Alleviating this problem in a meaningful way will surely require a multi-faceted effort involving federal, state and local governments, non-profits and the private sector.

Tiny homes have become a solution to homelessness. Here’s one possible component of the solution to this giant issue: tiny homes. Across the U.S., organizations are using tiny houses and apartment homes, which typically range from 100 square feet to 500 square feet, to provide shelter for the homeless.

For instance, the nonprofit American Family Housing recently opened Potter’s Lane, a 16-unit community in Midway City, Calif., to house homeless vets. The property features 480-square-foot apartment homes made from energy-efficient shipping containers.

Across the country, in Newfield, N.Y., the nonprofit Second Wind Cottages, relying heavily on donated materials and volunteer labor, built a community of 12 tiny homes that house homeless men. Residents pay rent as they are able to help defray the community’s operating expenses.

Other examples of similar communities include the Tiny House Village in Seattle and the Community First! Village in Austin, Texas.

Advocates of these developments note that they are comparatively cheap to build, and constructions costs often are further mitigated through the use of materials and labor supplied for free by area businesses and residents.

Can the multifamily industry incorporate tiny apartment homes for the homeless into their communities? It’s certainly something to think about. With its ample resources and vast supply of creative and intelligent people, the multifamily industry should not be shy about stepping up to the plate to help address this critical issue, and tiny apartment homes might be one way to do that.

Another Piece to the Puzzle

Shelters to Shutters (S2S), a Fairfax, Va.-based nonprofit, offers another way for the apartment industry to reduce homelessness. S2S currently works with 23 apartment management companies – including such large operators as

How tiny would your tiny home be?

AvalonBay Communities and Equity Residential – to place people experiencing homelessness in onsite, entry-level jobs and provide them with housing at the same communities at which they work.

Overall, these apartment companies have moved more than 100 people out of homelessness in the Mid-Atlantic, Midwest, Northeast, South and Texas. And they’ve gained hardworking, loyal associates in the process. The job retention rate for S2S participants is 92 percent while the average industry turnover rate, according to the National Multifamily Housing Council, is 31 percent.

S2S provides its apartment management partners with pre-screened, job-trained candidates for entry-level positions such as maintenance technicians and leasing agents. The organization focuses on the 70 percent of the homeless population who are situationally homeless due to a life-altering event such as job loss, medical or health emergency, divorce, domestic abuse or the loss of a primary income earner.

Whether it’s through tiny homes, working with nonprofits like S2S or some other method, the multifamily industry can make a real difference in the fight against homelessness. I strongly urge you to consider how you and your apartment company can do just that.

Want to learn more about us? Click here to find out – Package Concierge

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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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