Following on from a very worthwhile three days in Florida at the VRMA International short-term rental conference, our team from PointCentral packed their bags again and headed off to Las Vegas for the renowned multifamily OPTECH conference.
As well as meeting various vendors and potential customers, it was an opportunity for all attendees to gain valuable insight from some of the industry’s leaders. Panels of proptech innovators and inspirational speakers shared opinions and experiences on key topics that are influencing the market in 2023.
Cross-departmental representatives from PointCentral attended, including members from the product, sales and marketing teams. They share their key takeaways below:
AI and Property Management
Once again, just as it was at VRMA International, AI was a key theme at OPTECH.
Industry leaders are in agreement that AI has the potential to significantly change how multifamily rentals are marketed and managed. The role of a property manager is expected to be increasingly impacted and altered in many areas by AI, from the progression of dynamic pricing to resident engagement, monitoring and operational management tasks.
In a bid to help property managers select the most effective AI tools, industry insiders shared that not all AI solutions are equal and it’s crucial to distinguish between hype and practical innovation. While some solutions are promoted and marketed to look impressive, some of the most valuable AI tools address practical problems effectively, even if they aren’t the flashiest.
As AI develops, attention turns to the logistics, benefits and potential challenges that the emerging technology poses for the industry. With a mixture of excitement and skepticism, contributors at OPTECH acknowledged the benefits but hesitated when it came to data privacy. Many in the industry prefer safer private AI solutions over open AI services, emphasizing the need to protect sensitive information and data.
Among the OPTECH community, there was also a notable shift from property managers who used to prioritize human differentiation to ensure a personal service to determining when it is appropriate to incorporate a human touch alongside AI tools.
It’s useful to distinguish between traditional AI that property managers are using for predictive purposes, such as identifying emergency maintenance issues. and generative AI that creates brand new output. Property managers are currently using generative AI in applications such as chatbots, for scheduling tours, answering queries and contacting residents. Further applications for the technology are currently being explored.
Proptech Ecosystem and Data Integration
The focus on providing guests with a frictionless experience continues but the customer journey was discussed in more detail at OPTECH. Issues surrounding the problems that arise when integrating with various vendors and partners were discussed and how that can make the guest experience feel clunky. ‘Liquid expectations’, the idea that consumers expect the best from all providers, emphasizes the need for seamless services, although experts predict that the industry is several years away from truly achieving that goal.
In response, some companies are investing in their own databases to manage diverse data sources more effectively.
Evolving Trends in Accommodation Demands
There is a continuing trend for the convergence of short-term rentals and the multifamily space that property managers can leverage to boost revenues and mitigate risks during the lease-up phase.
Changing demographics in the US means that leasing in 2023 will require adaptation. Many more people are living alone and are seeking new ways to connect with their community. In response, property managers are exploring the use of survey data to enable them to tailor their residents’ experience and help nurture human connections within buildings.
It was also highlighted in various discussions that marketers are now playing a more significant role in tech adoption, as they are increasingly being tasked with creating a seamless self-serve customer experience that is user-friendly and instant.
Something to be aware of is the increase in demand for EV charging and infrastructure in major metro areas. This can present an opportunity to owners and property managers who have the potential to provide an emerging sought-after amenity while generating additional income streams.
New regulations are set to be put in place that will see the ban of ‘junk fees’ across all businesses in the US. Junk fees refer to additional or hidden charges that increase the total cost of hotel rooms and other goods and services.
This pending new regulation will need to be considered by property owners and operators when looking at the economics of technology adoption.
Want to find out more about how tech can aid the merging of short-term rentals and multifamily? Read our latest article in Residential Tech Today.