We live in a self-service world. We check in for flights from our phones, get food delivered to our doors with one tap and access any movie we want, anytime, from our couches.

The pandemic accelerated the need for self-service options across virtually every industry and multifamily housing is no exception. Companies hustled to come up with new and innovative ways to meet consumer demands. Traditional ways of doing things became outdated, seemingly overnight.

Although COVID-19 may have led to rapid adoption of self-service and personalized options out of necessity, the industry quickly learned these options are here to stay.

As we begin the recovery, old technologies will fall by the wayside as operators look for ways to manage their assets more efficiently and meet evolving renter preferences. Everyone will be looking for smarter and quicker ways to rent apartments.

Today’s renters are digitally motivated and want to use their mobile devices to research and experience things in real time and on their terms. They expect a self-service solution and, the fact is, they want to interact with as few people as possible to find their next home.

■ How do we know? A survey by Tour24 found that 87% of renters said they would rather take a self-guided tour than tour with a live agent. This aligns with data from a recent Rent-Café survey of 3,500 people that found that 83% of respondents said they would use self-guided tours if available.

Prospects consistently share feedback that they “loved that there was no pressure”; “didn’t feel rushed”; “could go at my own pace”; and that it is “so easy.”

Our data shows that in Colorado, self-guided tours have rapidly expanded over the past 12 months, particularly in the Denver area. We are seeing this across product types, including high-rise, mid-rise and garden-style buildings located in urban and suburban settings.

■ Tour how and when you want. These technology enhancements are here to stay, and the next generation of renters not only expects tech amenities, it is demanding them.

Today’s renters want to do everything on their own term and don’t like being pressured. Renters expect to have flexible options and tour times. They want to tour when they want, and not be limited to dates and times made available by properties.

The RentCafé survey also found that 43% of renters would rather tour after hours. If you are not offering personal and engaging technology solutions for renters, with flexible timing and touring options, you are missing out on valuable prospects and losing leases.

If you are not offering personal and engaging technology solutions for renters, with flexible timing and touring options, you are missing out on valuable prospects and losing leases.

■ Increase in demand in Denver. Selfguided tours are rapidly becoming a driver of opportunity for communities in Denver, as renters are choosing to tour communities where their preference for self-service and convenience is available.

“We are seeing an increase in the volume of tours being taken when the leasing offices are closed,” said Joanna Hackney, executive vice president of client success at Tour24. “People are returning to their offices and have less flexibility to visit a community during their working hours. Forty percent of tours are now happening outside of leasing hours in the Denver area.”

Further, “The demand for self-guided tours has risen from one year ago, with our communities in this market realizing 152% tour growth year over year,” she said.

More renters than ever are choosing to guide themselves, even when most leasing offices have fully reopened for agent-led tours.

■ A piece of the puzzle. Self-guided tours have become an integral part of the multifamily leasing ecosystem.

They are not being looked at in isolation, but rather as an essential piece of the puzzle that fits into the total customer experience. Industry leaders are looking holistically at what today’s renters wants, and empowering them to connect with communities in new ways that fit their needs.

With 2022 business planning in the industry underway, leading Denver owners and operators are planning for greater automation in the leasing process, enabled by innovative technology solutions and services. Selfguided tours are a critical component of their strategy.

■ The bottom line. By improving the customer experience, these offerings deliver a decrease in operating expenses and increase in revenue.

Our data shows that 31% of selfguided tour prospects commit to leasing immediately post-tour. These prospects credit their decision to having an opportunity to tour how they want. Not all renters share the same priorities. Allowing them to focus on what matters to them while on tour has proven to drive leasing outcomes that often exceed guided tour experience.

Enabling prospects to tour when and how it’s convenient for them is a win-win. Finding their home, on their own time, in a way they prefer has become a necessity for communities going forward.

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