We want to kick this off by saying that we should look to create experiences, not just resident events for apartments. Everyone does events, but not everyone can create experiences that the residents will take with them forever. If you want to stand out from your comps, you have to focus on the quality of the experience. Competition to your resident events are anything else that your resident might prefer to do instead of attending your experience.
Why are resident events for apartments important?
Amongst all the things that you can do to engage residents, why do resident events for apartments? Well, resident events help you build community and as we know, there’s nothing more important than building community. Community is what drives the general goals of the business you’re in. It enables retention and loyalty. A really interesting Flamingo fact is that we’ve seen that the highest retention rates among our customers are the ones that are constantly and consistently doing events. Events give your residents the opportunity to connect with neighbors and with the management team. They really do create engagement all around.
At the end of the day, we want resident events to drive NOI and that starts with engagement, participation, loyalty.
Your Event Strategy A.K.A The Art of Picking Events
A few things come into play when it comes to event strategy:
Get aligned with your team and decide the goals you’re trying to reach with your resident events. A few very common ones are:
- Social media content
- Number of attendees
- Foot traffic
Large vs Small
We recommend going for a mix of large and small events. We see lots of property managers who only focus on doing large events that have at least 100 or 200 people. Large events are great, but they’re more expensive and are tougher to execute. They also don’t allow as much interaction between residents. If you add a mix of smaller, more intimate events like a wine tasting or a cooking class, you’re providing a great space for those connections to foster. We love calendars that have smaller events on a monthly basis and larger events on a quarterly basis. The perfect mix!
Quality vs Quantity
There’s no right answer for this one because it depends on the property, the residents and your goals. We’ve seen properties execute purely on quality, where they do two or three events per year and they get great attendance to all of those. We’ve also seen properties focus on quantity, where they do events almost every single week or month and that also drives engagement in a very different way. Think of what works best for you and your team.
Everyone vs Niche Groups
We see a lot of property managers get this one wrong because they focus on only doing events that target everyone. You want to have a healthy balance between events that apply to everyone and then some that are more niche, for a specific group of people of your building. The best example is how a couple of years ago we saw a customer deliver a women’s self defense class that got almost 30% of all women residents to attend. Get creative and think about the different groups you might have, some may be pet owners, some might be interested in a finance class, or a feminist book club. Think of what people care about and you’ll get amazing results.
Onsite vs Offsite
Most properties do all their events onsite but we want to remind you to now discount offsite events. As things reopen and while the weather allows it, you can take advantage of what the area has to offer and organize really nice offsite resident events for apartments. Check out what’s going on in your city and organize an outing, maybe a ski trip, a day at the beach. These are generally pretty easy to organize and people love them!
Events vs Experiences
Experiences drive the most engagement. The easiest example of to think about the difference between an event and an experience is a pizza party vs a Murder Mystery dinner. A lot more fun and engaging to add the Murder Mystery to the mix. Offer residents things that they can’t get elsewhere, something that sparks their interest and curiosity. Another idea could be to instead of having your regular fitness class, combine it with brunch, mimosas and a DJ to create a fun experience, instead of just a regular event class.
Once you figure out your event strategy mix, focus on creating an event calendar for the year. Most people plan out their events only one, two or three months ahead, when what you really want to plan out at least six months ahead. This makes residents a lot more likely to commit (and even renew!) because they’re that more aware of upcoming events. The calendar you create doesn’t have to be set in stone, you can even add dates and events to see if residents are interested or not. You can always go back, edit and change things around.
Another recommendation is to partner up with Marketing. This will open up a much bigger budget for your events. Usually, resident events fall under the “Retention” budget but if you partner with Marketing you can also use them as an “acquisition” strategy. Inviting prospects expands the reach, goal and can even expand the budget of your events. You know who else will love this strategy? Your leasing teams! This gives them the opportunity to invite prospects to the event and take them on a tour afterwards.
Types of Resident Events for apartments | Recommendations
- Food & alcohol: Resident events that have food or alcohol are always going to be more popular that the ones that don’t.
- Family-friendly: Don’t make the mistake of only targeting millennials or doing non-family events. Incorporating family-friendly events to your mix will make your residents who are parents really happy. They’ll be super appreciative of having the option to do something different with their kids.
- Pet-friendly: The majority of buildings are pet-friendly, get creative and set up a Happy Hour pet friendly event. When you add niche groups to your events, it makes it that more likely that those groups will participate, add alcohol to the mix and you’ve got yourself a great event.
- Health & Wellness: Fitness classes, cooking classes, yoga classes are one of our customer’s favorites. They make residents feel good and you can set them up weekly or monthly.
- Skill-based: This means classes where residents can learn how to do something new. These events are very popular because it provides residents the opportunity to do things they’ve never done before and feel good about trying out new things. They feel more like experiences than events. For example, you could organize art classes and then have an art gallery show of everything the residents have created throughout the year.
- Outdoor events: Take advantage of your amazing outdoor spaces and organize an outdoor movie, outdoor fitness classes. People love doing things outdoor, plus, you have more space to do larger events. You could do a food truck festival where you invite two, three or event more food trucks.
Event Planning and Marketing
One of the biggest challenges property managers face is logistics and vendor research. It takes a lot of time and you have to make sure you’re hiring a really good vendor so that the event is successful. One way to go about it is create a sheet with all the vendors that you research. Go on Google, Yelp, and add as much information as you can on every vendor. Look at ratings, reviews, prices and add everything to your sheet. If you take your time and build a nice sheet, you’ll have a great resource for the next time you need a vendor. You could even share the sheet with your colleagues in the same region so that you build it up together.
Flamingo tip: If you want to have easy access to hundreds of verified vendors, check out our marketplace and book an event like you’d book an Uber, fast and online.
When it comes to Marketing, there’s one important rule you have to watch out for: more effort should be put into marketing your event than the effort it took to organize it. There’s no point in having spent all that money, all that time and all that work into an event that no one shows up to. To increase your chances of people attending you have to cover all your bases:
- Calendar: We’ve mentioned this, but it’s so important, we wanted to mention it again. Publishing a calendar of events months in advance is the easiest way to increase attendance to your resident events for apartments.
- Attractive materials: You have to get people excited about attending your resident event, a black and white flyer is not going to cut it. Match your materials with quality of the event itself.
- Blast all the channels: Don’t assume that people will read your emails. You have to go at invites through all the channels you have. If you have an app, use it to announce it, send email, texts and notifications. Put up posters in the elevator, in the lobby, at the gym.
- Reminders: Most property managers only send reminders to the people who register but think about residents who didn’t RSVP because they thought they’d be busy at the time of the event and all of a sudden their schedule opens up. If they get a reminder, even if it’s on the same day of the event, they might decide to show up after all.
To maximize the value of your event, focus on these two areas:
Get residents to tag you, to take pictures, to publish stories. Create a hashtag and make sure your events are instagrammable. Another thing you can do that works really well is offering rewards for residents who take and submit pictures. You can use these pictures on your social media or even on your website.
Ask for Reviews
Residents are most likely to leave a review after they’ve attended an event, the data is very clear on this. Right after (or even during) the event, make sure you send a review request through email. Or you could even have a QR code at the event that takes people to the review site. Again, these tactics work great if your pair them with a reward. We have customers who have gotten hundreds of reviews just by focusing on delivering great events and then sending a review request, it can be that simple.
As a bonus, here’s the recording of the webinar and the slides for you to enjoy and share!