As colder temperatures and wintry conditions settle in across the U.S., apartment communities need to consider upping their indoor amenities game. Multifamily Executive quizzed Ann Kanz, regional marketing manager at King of Prussia, Pa.-based Morgan Properties, and Holly McQueen, vice president of Newton Square, Pa.-based GMH Capital Partners, about ways to keep residents engaged during colder weather.

MFE: What types of indoor amenities can be livened up or added to apartment communities for the fall and winter months?

Ann Kanz, Morgan Properties
Ann Kanz, Morgan Properties

Kanz: Your budget may not allow for you to add new amenities, but in the winter months you can utilize common spaces such as clubhouses, fitness centers, or even vacant units to host resident events depending on your community size.

Do you have extra storage or unused space in your community? Think outside the box and determine what that space could become. If you have it in your budget, some new and popular indoor amenities to consider include dog wash stations, yoga rooms, and game centers.

McQueen: One great amenity owners should consider including is a movie theater room. This is the perfect amenity to bring residents together for indoor fun. Going the extra mile to get residents involved with choosing different movie options as well as offering complimentary snacks is a good way to keep residents entertained when the weather is too chilly to bear. Also, residents like to gather in the theaters to watch college and professional football.

Holly McQueen, GMH Capital Partners
Holly McQueen, GMH Capital Partners

Other great amenities to consider include a spa for much-needed relaxation and a library where residents can cozy up with a warm blanket and a good book. Many of our apartment communities have monthly book clubs.

MFE: What’s some of the best ways to promote indoor amenities to encourage greater use of them?

Kanz: Getting residents involved is key. People want to live in places where their neighbors have similar interests. Allow residents to come up with ideas of indoor events they’d like to do. Book clubs, card games, recipe exchanges, etc. This allows them to meet their neighbors.

McQueen: The best way to promote an indoor amenity is to host a resident event in the space. For instance, fitness classes in our state-of-the-art fitness, dance, and yoga facilities; book events at our on-site libraries; tournaments at our indoor basketball courts; communal cooking classes; and card and pool games at our game rooms.

MFE: What are some ways to leverage third-party vendors to help enliven indoor amenities?

Kanz: Using third-party vendors is not only great for us as apartment owners, but it’s a great opportunity for them to cross-market. You can easily leverage these relationships by informing vendors about how many residents your community represents and how getting in front of such residents can generate more publicity for their company. We like to work with fitness instructors, painters, financial professionals, and more to come in and teach classes for our residents. It’s a win-win!

McQueen: At GMH Capital Partners, we encourage outside vendors to help promote our events as a way of also promoting their businesses. An example of this is our collaboration with providing massages to our residents from local businesses and well-known franchises like Hand and Stone Massage Facial Spa. We also inquire with local restaurants and bars about catering food and beverages for our movie nights and happy hours.

MFE: Are there any easy, low-cost ways to create additional indoor amenities?

Kanz: Working with third-party vendors is a great way to host complimentary resident events. It makes us look good, generates publicity for the vendor, and creates fun experiences for the residents. You always want your residents to know and feel like you care.

With all the silly holidays that exist, it’s easy to do inexpensive things for residents such as giving away free doughnuts in the office on National Doughnut Day or setting up a hot cocoa bar on those especially cold winter days. We like to try and do something for our residents every month, even if it’s something small.

McQueen: If you don’t have space, you could always use a model or a vacant corporate unit to host events such as a book club meeting, holiday cookie exchange, cooking classes, and more.

MFE: What’s the biggest advantage to livening up indoor amenities?

Kanz: One of the reasons amenities and activities add much value for residents is because it enables them to feel like they are part of a community as they get to know their neighbors. Adding value for residents should not stop just because the sun sets earlier and the air gets cooler, it should be a year-round goal for owners.

Generating excitement for indoor amenities during the winter months is key to keeping your residents involved and content with their living experience, which will likely lead to increased lease renewals season after season.

McQueen: The biggest advantage of livening up indoor amenities is residents don’t get bored, as there is always something to do. For younger residents, such as millennials and Gen Z, and residents with children, these events can make all of the difference. Housing decisions have grown to become mostly based on offered experiences. By consistently providing exceptional service and value, regardless of the season, residents are more inclined to call your property home forever.