Summer is full of energy—college students are moving in or graduating, and adults are looking for ways to beat the heat.
It’s also a busy time for property managers, as May through September is a popular time to move or look for apartments.
Besides students moving, factors such as favorable weather, the wedding season and higher birth rates also lead to more people moving in the summer, as Aimee Miller, chief marketing officer at Appfolio, explains.
“Summer is the most popular time for people to move, which means property managers need to be ready to market vacancies and streamline their leasing flow to move people in quickly.”
Aimee Miller, Chief Marketing Officer at Appfolio
We spoke with a few apartment management experts and compiled these three ideas to help you fill your summer vacancies quickly.
Idea 1: Set Up a Booth at Local Festivals
At last count, more than 215 different music festivals take place in the U.S., many during summer months. About 32 million people attend at least one per year, and that doesn’t even include food, wine or social movement festivals!
“In the summertime, there’s a lot more you can do with marketing to bring in clients. There are a lot more events, so we’ll offer to host or donate to one or set up booths at festivals.”
Sadie Villarreal, Operations Manager at Northshore Austin, a luxury apartment complex in Austin, Texas
These are clear opportunities to reach a huge group of prospective renters. Not convinced? About half of the attendees are millennials, who are driving the demand for smaller apartment units and ready to rent.
Here are some tips for marketing at a festival:
Find Your Renters
Target the festivals your demographic is most likely to attend. If you cater mostly to students, music festivals are your best bet—17 to 29-year-olds make up about 70 percent of attendees. For non-college towns, a wine or craft festival could be a better option.
About 20 million posts about music festivals occurred on social media in 2014. Tap into the conversation by posting on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat before, during and after the event. Use these channels as an opportunity to announce your presence.
Be sure to post photos and use relevant hashtags to grab some attention.
Offer Useful Swag
Festival goers love stuff; free, useful stuff. Tag koozies, visors or fanny packs with your apartment’s name and contact information. They’ll think of your property every time they grab another tallboy.
During South by Southwest in Austin, Texas, Villarreal’s property offered a particularly useful item—charger ports for phones emblazoned with the apartment name. She says the tactic was successful in drawing a crowd and making an impact on potential renters.
Reach Renters on Their Phones
Miller notes that property managers shouldn’t forget about direct engagement on smartphones—84 percent of current or prospective renters actively search using their mobile devices, she says.
“Millennials really love technology because it makes their lives easier, so mobile marketing and reaching out to renters using their preferred methods of communication, like text messaging, for example, will have a higher success rate than old-school techniques,” she says.
Collect contact information by asking festival-goers to enter their email and phone number into a tablet computer. You can incentivize them to offer their information for the chance to win a gift card, a physical prize or a discount on rent (if they choose to rent on of your units).
Idea 2: Transport Renters With 360 Videos and Virtual Reality
Even with pleasant weather in the summer, 90 percent of renters search online for apartments. They’re looking for images that inspire excitement about a new home. Studies show that real estate listings with professional photos sell 50 percent faster than those without.
Video is an even more powerful marketing tool—86 percent of home shoppers use video to tour the inside of a property, and 70 percent use it to learn more about a community, according to Realtor.org.
How Home Shoppers Use Online Video Content
A recent Appfolio post mentions the importance of video walkthroughs; they see videos becoming as important as photos. As such, Miller says summer offers an opportunity to use high-quality video to show off your apartment amenities, such as:
- Pool areas
- Grilling areas and BBQ pits
- Pet-friendly areas, such as a dog park
- Proximity to popular summertime attractions, e.g., beaches, parks or water parks
- Balconies and patios
Technology is further boosting the impact of video content. Brent Williams, chief insider at Multifamily Insiders, a popular networking resource for apartment property managers and professionals, says new 360 video technology can create more immersive experiences for potential renters.
“Not only do they get to hear the highlights of the community from the leasing consultant, offering a personal touch to the experience, but it also offers a somewhat ‘self-guided’ aspect where the prospect can take time to look around the room while the tour is being presented, just like they would in real life.”
Brent Williams, Chief Insider at Multifamily Insiders
Take a look at an example from the Houston Rockets, whose video features Dwight Howard giving an interactive, 360-degree tour of the Toyota Center:
Now, imagine using the same technology to show off your pool area or balcony views, where renters can enjoy a cold drink in the sun. Hiring a pro basketball player may not be in the budget, but 360 cameras, such as the LG 360 Cam, can be purchased for as little as $200.
But wait, we can do even better.
“When combined with virtual reality gear, suddenly the prospect isn’t just watching the video, but rather transported inside the community itself in a way they have never experienced before,” Williams says.
It sounds pricey, but it’s shockingly affordable to offer a VR experience of your amenities for potential renters while attending or hosting an event away from your property. Google Cardboard and Samsung’s Gear VR range from $15 to $100 and utilize Android and iOS phones as screens.
Idea 3: Strategically Target College Renters
As mentioned, college students make up a large portion of apartment seekers during summer. For apartment managers with properties in a college town, there are some strategic ways to target these valuable renters:
Host a Pool Party With Local Sponsors
Join forces with local businesses, such as restaurants, to host a pool party at your property. Engage visitors with games and offer prizes, such as gift cards from the sponsors or discounts on rent. It’s a good way to show off the amenities and create some buzz around your brand.
Instead of hosting a party, Villarreal says it can be effective to take the party to the people. She’s had success by buying pizza in bulk with a partnering business, finding the Greek row near campus and popping into a party to spread the word about her property.
College-aged students and millennials appreciate marketing tactics that are authentic and share-worthy. And, joining a party with your target audience can convey that your property is a fun place to live.
Sell to the Parents
Students’ parents are likely the ones writing deposit checks or co-signing leases, and they’ll probably have more pertinent questions than the student. Be prepared to address parental concerns about safety and comfort, as well as any lease details the student may overlook.
You can create a single-page printout with:
- Lease details and dates
- A list of utilities
- Nearby stores, libraries or attractions
- Information about your website and online portal
- Maps and contact information for your property
More ideas from property managers are available at Multifamily Insiders’ ResidentEvents.com message board.
Ramp up your apartment marketing efforts during busy summer months by attending festivals, creating immersive video walkthroughs and targeting the types of renters likely to become residents.
Executing on these ideas can help attract valuable clients to fill vacancies quickly.
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