Parks and communal green spaces are again buzzing with family walks, children on playgrounds and yard games. Flights are full, bars are packed, and in-person gatherings are full steam ahead. As social scenes and community-get-togethers have gradually recovered from the pandemic, so have events in multifamily properties. Virtual cocktail hours and Zoom introductions have largely been phased out, replaced by events that have long been loved, as well as new opportunities to bring people together.
Community events for multifamily buildings can support not only the residents, but also benefit property managers and owners. Building a strong brand association within a community, as well as with a larger company, can increase resident retention across the board. And events are equally as important for those living in the space as they are for those who own and manage the assets.
To keep up with the dynamic trends that influence what residents look for, owners and managers should look to phase out resident events that no longer serve their communities best and introduce new experiences that will attract more attention.
Out with the old
Pre-COVID, most people were comfortable in large numbers packed into smaller spaces. This, however, is no longer the case. Despite the fact that we are no longer at the height of the pandemic, many residents are still cautious when it comes to their health. While most property managers and owners agree that the majority of people are very excited about the return to in-person events, some still prefer hybrid and remote ways to join in on the fun.
Fitness classes were a very popular option for multifamily events. While communities were previously hosting fully occupied yoga, fitness and meditation classes, feedback from people living in multifamily properties has altered the way these events now take place.
“For fitness, people have expressed a desire to not have as many people in the class,” Andrew Schwartz, vice president of residential asset management at Taconic, told Multi-Housing News. “They want personal space, they don’t want to be packed into a spinning class with 30+ people right next to each other. I think people are more conscious about personal space now and it has impacted the way they work out.”
Beyond safety precautions, residents in social settings also want to feel that their presence is meaningful. Events that previously relied on resident contributions such as Secret Santa exchanges and potlucks are not that successful and are no longer worth the effort. “These events didn’t get much attendance,” explained Legacy Partners’ Business Manager at Azulon at Mesa Verde Samuel Aguilera. “Additionally, the quality of the event was not good as residents didn’t bring things that made others excited.”
What is meaningful to residents is meeting new people, maintaining physical and mental well-being, bettering the larger community and working towards personal goals.
In with the new
Generally, any event that offers free food and alcohol, mixed with the opportunity to meet other residents, will be a success, such as: Ice Cream Trucks, Pool Parties, Holiday Parties (Halloween, Super Bowl, Christmas, Valentines, etc.), Casino Nights, Wine Tastings, Happy Hours and Movie Nights. Each of these implements some of the key elements to a successful multifamily event: free food, free alcohol, the opportunity to be social and/or chances to meet new people in the community. Now events, can and will go far beyond just a hours of fun. If the property owners and managers listen to the feedback from their residents and the surrounding community, these events can further people’s education, career and personal goals.
“What has really stood out is in the last 10 years it has evolved beyond wine tastings, happy hours and movie nights. Events have gotten more interesting, more eclectic, more useful and more tailored towards individual building demographics,” said Schwartz.
As an example, Schwartz noted an event held in a New York community where residents had a professional headshot taken for their resumes or LinkedIn by a photographer that came to the building. For those that had the amenity package, the photograph was free. Other career-oriented event ideas to implement could include interview preparation functions and workshops for resume writing.
For rent-stabilized properties in Taconic’s portfolio, events are often centered around education, the arts and community building. One multifamily property in the Bronx partnered with an agency to provide a free tutoring several times a week to children and teenagers. Another had a local artist solicit feedback from the community on words and colors to include on a community mural . Residents and neighbors alike contributed ideas towards the mural and attended a painting party where they could personally contribute to the piece. Almost half a year later the art piece is still standing.
Schwartz explained that events like this have inspired new ideas, such as offering free studio space to local artists in return for an art workshop once a week for residents.
Other ideas include nutrition classes and health classes, which are beneficial for all residents and contribute towards the greater good of residents. Some communities are now offering fitness classes specifically for seniors.
“We like to do things that we think will benefit the resident population and the surrounding community,” said Schwartz.
A well-planned and thoughtful event is only as successful as the attendance. So, how are property managers raising awareness about upcoming events?
Schwartz said that he uses texts, emails and a monthly calendar.
For some communities, sending out a calendar of all upcoming events is enough to ensure positive attendance rates. To take it a step further, Maureen Erro, leasing and marketing director for Legacy Partners’ Main Street Village, said that she deploys email blasts, utilizes digital screens in the property and posts on Instagram to get the word out.
While luxury properties often have screens throughout lobbies, elevators and amenity spaces to allow for digital flyers, all property types can utilize amenity spaces for event posts. Simple paper flyers in the laundry room, stairwell, lobby, elevator, etc., can get the word out.
One of the most important aspects of marketing is ensuring you are deploying methods that are inclusive and representative of the residents in your community. For some communities, different marketing means may reach different people, such as social media versus paper flyers. To avoid only reaching one demographic for an event, experts suggest that best practices for multifamily marketing involve utilizing several marketing methods for different groups.
A plus side for everyone
Multifamily community events can benefit residents and their larger community while simultaneously bringing advantages to property owners and property managers.
If events are meaningful, residents are more likely to write positive Google reviews, which helps with a community’s online reputation. Community satisfaction leads to renewed leases while an online presence can promote the property to prospective residents.
“On a Food Truck night several touring prospects expressed how it impacted their decision to want to live at a community that plans such awesome things for their residents,” Erro told MHN.
Along with increasing occupancy rates, community events can reposition a property. Property value improves when residents are engaged with the asset and its amenities. Public perception of a community, and therefore its property owner and manager, is heavily dependent on the well-being and pride of the residents residing in it.
“[Community events] send a message that we are actually invested alongside the community, not just here to collect the rent and keep the heat working,” said Schwartz.