Forget about WOPR and Skynet and all of that sci-fi stuff that has computers gaining awareness and launching nukes or creating armies of hunter-killer robots to exterminate the human race. As it turns out, when computer systems gain awareness, they’ll simply revolutionize the marketing, leasing, and revenue management of America’s apartments.
At its RealWorld users group conference, held this week at the Aria Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, RealPage held true to its mantra that technology will disrupt old ways of doing multifamily business, backing up the revolution-will-be-technologized talk with results from an 18-month study of apartment Internet marketing, lead generation, and lease conversion among the Carrollton, Texas–based software firm’s apartment operator clients.
With a conference themed on “tipping points,” the results certainly highlighted an industry in technological transition: Call centers are up to three times more likely to convert a prospect phone lead than is an on-site staffer. (Call centers also spend an average of seven minutes on the phone with prospects, compared with an on-site average of only three minutes.) Offering web chat services typically increases website lead conversions by a factor of 3, and so-called “best of breed” websites (those that offer compelling graphics, interactivity, availability, pricing, and contact information) are generating more than 50 percent of qualified prospect leads to their operators, even after adjusting for ILS-forwarded traffic.
Touching on cloud computing and real-time data share (there’s your systems awareness) between software and services like OneSite, Crossfire, Lead2Lease, Level One, YieldStar, and even MyNewPlace.com, RealPage CEO Steve Winn says the evolution of multifamily technology “will force profound changes regarding everything about how we market and rent apartments,” predicting that solutions now being developed by the company could decrease the cost of an Internet lease from a range of $500 to $600 to a range of $350 to $400 and the cost of a conventional on-site lease from $800 to $1,000 down to a range between $650 and $850.
So how long will the (r)evolution take? Try 12 to 16 months, which is roughly the time frame that RealPage plans for the total reveal of LeaseStar, a de facto integration of its systems and services and “lead-generation marketplace for renters” that was soft-launched at the conference but remains officially under wraps, with a formal announcement and hard launch expected later this fall.
Here at MFE, we’ll look to share the exclusive news and details on LeaseStar and all other apartment technologies as they become available. And whether or not LeaseStar is an iPhone-esque game changer in multifamily tech, you’ve got to at least smile at Winn’s awareness of the swagger in RealPage’s initiative: Referring to a video graphic of falling dominoes during his keynote address, the CEO said, “I love dominoes … especially when I get to push the first one.”