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California   /   August 26, 2019

Dennis Kaiser
By: Dennis Kaiser

Engrain, Rently Bring Self-Guided Tours to Apartment Search

By Dennis Kaiser

A partnership between Engrain and Rently introduced self-guided tours to prospective apartment renters. The technologies allow people to securely check out properties at their convenience. Connect Media asked Engrain’s Brent Steiner to share how the TouchTour and SightMap applications work together with Rently’s self-showing solutions platform in our latest 3 CRE Q&A, as Steiner explains how properties are being explored, including features such as live pricing, unit availability, and even online applications.

Q: How does the self-guided touring process work? And, how do these two technologies work together to provide self-touring at participating properties?
Self-guided touring provides renters with the flexibility to visit a potential apartment in-person by themselves and whenever works best for their schedule. While virtual tours offer a similar level of flexibility, the fact is that many renters still want to physically visit apartment communities, but doing so during normal leasing office hours can prove to be difficult. With self-guided touring, residents gain more control of their decision making, leading to a more flexible and timely leasing experience as a whole.

When considering options for self-guided touring, operators have many things to consider depending on the type of property, target demographic and number and type of amenities available on the tour. Each phase of the tour process needs to be mapped, from the initial scheduling to ID verification, to access method to prospect communication, and desired call to action after the tour is complete. Having access to a map to highlight the prospect’s touring page with associated content is a critical component to ensuring the tour is smooth.

Q: How do you predict self-guided touring will impact the overall lease-up process? Can self-guided touring improve or distinctly change the apartment hunt for prospective renters?
As the apartment leasing process evolves, residents will continue to seek options that streamline all aspects of the renter journey — a process that can become very cumbersome, especially as renters are evaluating numerous properties. Self-guided touring will continue to propel the “do-it-yourself” renting trend, both empowering prospective residents and increasing the overall volume of tours and showings for a participating property. With this technology, in addition to other mapping and data visualization software, renters can obtain information in real-time, including key details such as unit availability, current pricing, as well as in-unit and building amenities.

Q: What specific challenge(s) will Engrain solve by making its technology available to management companies and self-guided touring companies?
Engrain’s SightMap platform provides an API-based map solution which seamlessly integrates with any property management software system, thus ensuring data continuity and reliability. On the property management side, various challenges and daily headaches can be alleviated by knowing operators can leverage an existing product for the back office concerns related to the tour. As management experiments with different touring process flows, there are enough communication, legal and physical space challenges to overcome without having to solve map development and inventory management integration barriers. The same can be said for innovators trying to create touring platforms. Software companies serving multifamily can easily integrate Engrain’s technology into their product, and companies from outside multifamily can move faster leveraging Engrain’s deep knowledge of the industry’s nuances and needs.

For leasing teams struggling to balance touring with ongoing operational tasks and responsibilities, like following up on leads, sifting through stacking plans, completing paperwork, these partnerships reduce the amount of time spent physically walking a prospective resident through the property. Teams simply have more time to focus on overall building management, executing lease-up strategy, and providing quality service. While self-guided touring won’t diminish the role of leasing agents, it will enable them to shift focus to other crucial aspects of the job.

Connect Direct-to-Consumer is coming up next month at San Jose’s Santana Row. Get more information and register for the September 26th event on this link.

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About the Author

Dennis Kaiser is Vice President of Content and Public Relations for Connect Commercial Real Estate. Dennis is a communications leader with more than 30 years of experience.
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