BUILDING BALANCE: THE TECH EFFECT & HUMAN TOUCH

Multifamily|Senior Living|Thought Leadership|

While multifamily and senior living communities increasingly leverage technology, they should always do so in service to customer experience.

You’re liable to run into gearheads at the Apple Store, auto repair shop or even on the hiking trail. Beware, if given the chance, they’ll talk your ear off about the latest bells and whistles on their phone, ride or new camping equipment. Technological innovation is important, even vital, for most industries, including multifamily and senior living, but such tools should be part of the overall customer experience – and your brand story – not the proverbial trees preventing us from seeing the full forest.  

As Michael Procopio, vice president of development at The Procopio Cos., writes in RE Business Online, more Gen Z buyers (43 percent) and millennials (35 percent) rated smart home features as “very important.” And the desire for technology will continue to grow as more enter the housing market and older generations adapt to its use. While these preferences will continue to be reflected in the design of residential communities across the country, it’s not an end in and of itself. The rising tech innovation supports the evolution of amenities at multifamily and senior living developments which, in turn, elevate the resident experience.

Of course, everyone’s experience changed in the past year under the harsh reality of the pandemic. Technology was there again, this time to help residents feel safer, keeping them connected, but at the same time socially distant. From virtual reality-driven leasing tours to various touchless capabilities and controlled access from smartphones, residential developers employed innovations for ease of use and to ease COVID-19 concerns. Procopio appropriately cautions though that it’s the goal, not the gear, that matters most: multifamily developers and operators may be tempted to “incorporate all technology… [but those] decisions should be driven by demographic trends and preferences and resident experience impacts.”

Baby Boomers, 10,000 of which will turn 65 every day between now and 2030, are redefining senior living development. This ain’t their parents’ “retirement home” situation, after all. They don’t want to be slowed down on their way to “an engaging, entertaining life full of experiences.” Convenient tech tools, including tele-health and exclusive resident portals, allow them more time to focus on the well-earned joys of life.

For example, Peachtree Hills Place, the first and only luxury 55+, equity-model continuing care retirement community in Atlanta’s prime Buckhead district, offers a long list of community amenities. Residents can relax at the resort-style clubhouse and pool, central courtyard, rooftop patio or open-air pavilion; hone their crafts in the community garden, art studio and woodworking shop; and walk the property’s extensive trails or their best four-legged friend in the dog park. There’s a lot to focus on besides technological innovation, but that helps support and elevate the total customer experience.

To paraphrase a presidential poet, people often forget what you said or did, but they will never forget how you made them feel. Multifamily and senior living residents want to feel comfort and experience quality and convenience. The ‘bells and whistles’ of technology may change their tune, but those core human values remain at the core of how multifamily and senior living communities should be designed, built and operated.

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