Last week, I had the pleasure of attending the Apartment Internet Marketing (AIM) conference. Aside from the great location in Huntington Beach (I don’t normally pay much attention to conference locations, but I’ve really come to love that particular one), the content this year was spectacular. It’s sometimes an industry sport to complain about conference content, so Steve Lefkovits and Dennis Cogbill deserve a special shout out for curating a truly great conference.
The conference covered such a wide canvas of topics that I thought I’d replace my normal detailed review of 3-5 key themes from any conference for a quick tour of all the things that struck me. Here goes:
- Artificial Intelligence and robotics may still be somewhat hypes, but now there’s some real work going on. I heard about results from chatbots, and even a robot being used to tour prospects (more of a “virtual presence device” as the robot holds a tablet with a video connection to a leasing agent).
- As mentioned above, chatbots are here for real. There are still human chat services available that are close to comparably priced, so it will be interesting to watch the bots battle the humans on this one.
- Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR) have arrived, at least for many lease-ups. There were multiple VR/AR vendors present, and the cost keeps coming down.
- Self-showing. As I’ve written before, multifamily can take a lesson from single family rentals on this one. Self-showing allows expanded touring hours and, where tested, has similar conversion rates as human-led tours.
- CRM is coming of age. I’m such a believer in this that I invested in AnyoneHome which has one of the leading CRM offerings. Other vendors have developed competent systems giving operators a variety of choice. At this point, I can’t understand why any operator wouldn’t choose one of the contemporary CRM offerings.
- Lead-to-lease analytics. I saw actual multi-attribution offerings and companies that are solving the full lead-to-lease analytic cycle. Call me if you want more background on this breakthrough in our industry.
- Much to my chagrin, email re-marketing is still relatively unused. Only a handful even turned up to the breakfast roundtable on 1:1 marketing through email. Operators are still relying too much on leasing agent response rather than augmenting with a full, 1:1 drip campaign. This is a still a huge opportunity for many.
- Customer Experience. I heard a lot of talk on this subject, but not yet a lot of investment. One exception was a presentation from Jamie Gorski at Bozzuto of a detailed customer journey exercise they went through.
- Google My Business and Google Maps trumping classic SEO. If you aren’t current on these platforms, you’re losing leads.
- Google Maps as a search engine. So many people now start their search in maps, that it really has become a major search engine, much like it has been for several years for restaurants
- Mobile is king! I remember when mobile crossed the 5% of traffic threshold. Now it’s above 50%. If you don’t have a good mobile strategy including an appropriate responsive design for your website, you’re really missing out.
There you have it. A quick recap of everything I heard and saw at AIM. Hope to see you there next year!