What’s new for community management in 2018?

Community management is a competitive industry and it’s important for each of us to be aware of what’s to come. The digital age and rapidly evolving technology can make it difficult to stay ahead, but there are important offline trends we should remain equally as aware of. Understanding resident expectations, what excites them and every day concerns is critical to management effectiveness. But ultimately, community management operations and efficiencies remain the biggest opportunities for our position as community leaders.  

Here are seven trends to be aware of this year:

1. The smart home trend is inspiring smart communities and cities
Residents homes are now filled with automation. From Google Assistant to Ring doorbells to smart light bulbs, smart home technology is on the rise and will soon be the norm. This innovation is playing a role in communities and cities as well. As community managers we need to be aware that convenience is essential for happy residents. We must consider that electric cars are on the rise, where do residents re-power their vehicles? Do they deserve preferred parking? Wi-fi is everywhere. Could it improve the amenity centers and common areas you manage? And how can you use wi-fi to your advantage? Think about smartphone apps, online calendars and digital community rules. Speaking of scheduling, consumers are used to doing so ahead of time. And that goes for ordering too. Digital ordering and scheduling solutions create efficiencies for residents and managers alike.

2. Residential communities are venting online
Have you been hearing rumblings from residents of unhappiness? Or has something small escalated for one particular community member? Watch out! They are likely finding a place online to vent about your company or your staff. Do you have a feedback loop in place? Are there ways to get ahold of your staff easily? And is your staff responding in a timely manner? If not, check Facebook and other social media channels, Yelp, Google Places, the Chamber of Commerce and any other local business listings. If you do experience complaints online, follow up with the resident publicly so that when your next potential HOA is doing their research they give you the benefit of the doubt.

3. Offline social events are counteracting online obsessions
Though it’s clear that digital is supreme, interestingly enough offline interactions are becoming increasingly important to residents. Consumers are celebrating their unique interests and residents are looking for community events to gather with those similar to them. Whether it’s wine tastings, barista trainings, crafting or fitness classes, residents are looking to the community to support their special interests and talents.

4. Amenities and community are not the same thing to residents
We used to think that pools, playgrounds, and tennis courts were one in the same with the idea of community. But, residents want more than that. They want customer service, efficiencies and offerings that go above and beyond the amenity itself. Have a club house you aren’t leveraging to connect your residents? It’s not working. Can you add a Wi-fi hot spot and turn it into a business center during the day? Can you increase your people-to-people interactions? Residents will thank you.

5. Our industry needs to be aware of virtual reality
This technology is taking over. Consumers expect to be able to experience what does not yet exist. Launching a new app soon? Share an experience of what it’s going to be ahead of time. Internal selling techniques are critical to resident happiness. Is an area within your community under construction? Share what the area will look like once it’s completed. Get residents excited about the changes before they have time to feel otherwise.

6. Digital advertising is increasingly important
How are new associations finding you? If it’s not through word of mouth chances are they are pulling out their mobile devices and search browsers to find the best community management team near them. Is your website mobile and user friendly? If not, you may be missing out on new leads. Is someone managing your online reputation and social channels? An online community manager may need to be your next hire.

7. The senior housing market will continue to soar
Baby Boomers are continuing to age, and residential solutions for seniors are becoming increasingly important. Whether you’re managing a community dedicated to ages for 50+ or have a few communities with large segments of the senior population, it’s important to keep this demographic in mind. And senior care isn’t what it used to be. Beyond traditional care needs, these adults are more active than previous generations. They are looking for ways to stay fit, such as senior yoga classes, and places to interact with people their age, such as senior events.
For more updates like this, check back with our Community section often.

Have other trends to share? Innovia co-op encourages the sharing of ideas, findings, tips and learnings amongst cooperative members. Interested in joining?