The Role of Mapping Technologies in Self-Service Leasing

The role of mapping technologies in self-service leasing is how interactive technologies have optimized many facets of leasing.

The role of mapping technologies in self-service leasing and how interactive technologies have optimized many facets of leasing. 

By Andrew Rhuland

“Show and tell” has taken on a whole new meaning since the rapid acceleration of self-guided tours and self-service leasing.

Whether due to the desire to tour alone or simply being drawn to a more convenient way to tour communities, prospects are engaging self-guided tours more than ever before. At this point prospects expect that apartment communities will offer self-guided tour options, and there is no turning back to the way things once were.

While convenient, self-guided tours have uncovered new challenges for prospects when it comes to navigating the community grounds. Some garden-style communities are sprawling with buildings that all look the same and offer a multitude of amenities throughout the property. High-rises are more compact, but prospects may have to visit multiple floors, different wings or even visit controlled areas to get the full tour experience. To help prospects be more comfortable touring a community, operators have engaged new interactive mapping technologies.

The Role of Mapping Technologies in Self-Service Leasing

Interactive community maps display entire properties with more granular details that prospects want to know, such as real-time pricing, availability, apartment views and exact location.

Prospects can see where an apartment is located within the context of a community, observe its proximity to amenity spaces, and peruse interior apartment features.

Another key layer to interactive maps is wayfinding technology. Similar in concept to Google Maps and Apple pin functions, wayfinding technology within interactive maps shows prospects exactly where they are on a property with an easy-to-follow blue dot. Wayfinding empowers prospects to seamlessly navigate communities during self-guided tours and provides another level of transparency with key route-finding tools to get prospects to the apartments they’re interested in seeing.

“When a prospect comes to tour a community, they want to know the overall community layout, which apartments are available and where the apartments are located within the property,” said Stephanie Shore, director of marketing and brand development at Bozzuto. “They’re keenly interested in pricing and availability. A visual representation of the community with those key pieces of information in real-time is essential for empowering prospects to tour on their own and give them key details up front to help guide decisions.”

Google Analytics data from Bozzuto indicates unit-level map integration can enhance the floor-plan search experience for interested users specifically on desktop, allowing them to dive deeper into unit location. In reviewing a subset of community websites over a three-month period in 2023, desktop users spent significantly more time on Engrain’s SightMap pages compared to overall time spent on static floor plan pages.

The interactive maps are not only easy to add to any community website, but also create a more visual, robust visitor experience. Prospects have real-time info at their fingertips to make better, more informed decisions and be more confident with their choices. On community websites or during a self-guided tour, prospects have the ability to filter by unit type and receive accurate real-time pricing and availability. This experience offers prospects more visibility into where their future home is relative to amenities and common areas.

“Filtering tools are critical for prospects to drill down into what’s most important to them, like their desired floor plan type and any differences in pricing or square footage,” Shore said. “For example, some apartments might be on the top floor and have a better view, so all those details make more sense when you have the context of seeing where the apartment falls within the building. Prospects want to know exact details, so the interactive maps provide much more insight.”

Interactive Insights for Leasing Teams

Interactive maps and wayfinding technology offer benefits to both onsite teams and prospects. Real-time availability enables leasing teams to optimize pricing while improving and streamlining revenue-management practices.

Shore notes that leasing teams can get a much better snapshot of apartment-stack trends – which ones aren’t renting, and why. A visual representation with real-time data provides much more concise, easy-to-understand information that can often be overlooked when combing through data in traditional or static spreadsheets and charts.

The technology gives leasing teams a greater understanding of why certain units are slower to rent and the ability to identify trends within leasing, which in turn provides more power in pricing decisions.

“Having those insights allows us to get ahead of the curve a bit in pricing and make sure we’re marketing those units correctly,” Shore said. “We’re able to make more informed, strategic decisions with interactive mapping technology.”

Technologies to Make Interactive Maps Work

While mapping technologies and visualization are streamlining processes for touring and leasing, a few other technologies are needed to ensure the interactive maps operate smoothly.

Access control is essential for running self-guided tours and self-service leasing effectively. Prospects may be able to navigate a community, but they need the ability to access it on their own. Access control coupled with interactive maps can not only show prospects which entrance they need to go to, but can also provide an access code to get them inside the community for their tour.

Interactive maps and self-service leasing platforms also rely on WiFi to operate for the duration of the self-guided tours. This is important for operators to keep in mind, as ubiquitous community WiFi has become a foundational component of new self-service leasing technology and tools.

By integrating mapping technologies and visualization into current systems, apartment operators are further optimizing leasing, pricing, touring and more. These technologies not only drive better decision-making for operators and leasing teams, but also enhance the overall renter journey with a much more fluid, robust leasing experience.

About the author:

Andrew Ruhland is an account executive and content writer for LinnellTaylor Marketing, which focuses exclusively on the rental housing industry, its trends and technology innovations.

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