Move over, Ed McMahon, there’re some new sweepstakes in town.
For multifamily operators looking to power up adoption of technology or searching for broader, more exciting exposure to renters searching for apartments online, recent industry successes suggest that contests and promotions point the way towards greater participation in programs and initiatives among the public and property staffers alike.
Consider Oakland, Calif.-based PropertyBridge, the electronic payments platform provider, which saw properties participating in its recent 2009 Community Contest improve electronic payment usage by an average of 31 percent. The $50,000 contest—which ran from Feb. 1 to April 30—awarded three monthly cash prizes and one $500 grand prize to every client who participated in the contest.
“Each one of our clients had their own contests and competed internally against their sister properties, and we posted results on their portal so they could see the standings every time they logged on to PropertyBridge,” says PropertyBridge marketing manager Summer Palma. “Promotions and contests are generally very successful as an effective way to encourage [system adoption]. Even if it is something small like a Visa gift card, it is a reason beyond the overall benefits to operations for the leasing professional to get excited about.”
Even at top-performing properties, contests can juice up participation in programs and technologies. Dallas-based Westdale Asset Management saw a huge boost in electronic payments across its 155-property portfolio via the PropertyBridge contest. How huge? Company controller Trevor Bert says the company’s top-performing properties saw a 47 percent increase in transactions from the contest. “That’s evidence that our communities were very motivated by the contest and worked hard to promote [it],” Bert adds.
For Apartments.com, a recent analysis of the impact of the recession on renting trends led to the Chicago-based ILS’s most recent promotion. According to the survey, a full 47 percent of multifamily residents currently living solo plan to seek out a roommate or “double-up” when their lease expires this year. Apartments.com responded by launching a “Roommate of the Year” online video contest, which will ultimately award one winner with what the ILS calls the “ultimate bailout package:” up to $12,000 in free rent for a year, plus an extra $10,000 in cold cash.
“These contests are huge consumer initiatives in terms of getting in front of renters in a very fun and unique way. It raises brand awareness and elevates interest in our listings,” says Apartments.com public relations and promotions manager Tammy Kotula. “The key to successful contests are to make them timely and relevant with a broad appeal, especially as we begin to tap into popular social media trends like online video.”
PropertyBridge, too, sees the pull-through marketing value of offering contest opportunities straight to the renter: The company launches its second-annual community contest for residents on July 1. Similar to the electronics payments contest for leasing professionals, participants get a chance at cash prizes every time they use PropertyBridge to electronically pay their rent. “We are just trying to get creative,” Palma says. “Why roll out this system if you aren’t simultaneously engaged in trying to improve electronic payments? We want to help you be successful with your program, and exciting promotions are better than gentle reminders in that regard.”