Before Covid, placemaking and community involvement had become popular with developers, with Build To Rent (BTR) providers really leading the charge. Operators were hosting community parties, fitness classes and even community poker clubs, where residents could come together and get to know their neighbours. Resident engagement was a topic beginning to rank higher on the priorities of marketeers, agents and developers everywhere. Furthermore, operators were looking to implement resident engagement PropTech to strengthen their strategies.
BANG. We find ourselves in a global pandemic. Travel was off the cards, interaction outside your household was limited and local community became ever-more important. Standing at our front-doors every Thursday evening to clap for the NHS and key-workers became a highlight, and seeing your neighbours doing the same thing was an important reminder that we were not alone.
Technology become a lifeline. Businesses could run remotely, children could access vital education resources from home and we could keep in touch with loved one. I’m also sure we can all relate with joining Facebook groups, following Instagram hashtags or finding locals on Twitter, wanting to feel more connected.
In the case of Spike’s residents, they took to their Spike Living portal. Spike’s Client Success Team helped Providers put together lockdown strategies. This included the set-up of COVID specific forums for residents to support one another and find out important information. The forums showcased neighbours supporting neighbours within blocks and schemes and really helping each other through the crisis.
Toilet roll? Yes, I’ve got it – which number are you? I’ll leave it outside.
Anyone fancy a cupcake? I’ve baked 12, I’ll leave them in reception – enjoy!
How are people managing home schooling? I’m exhausted.
Anyone free for a zoom and a glass of wine?
We could see our communities coming into their own. Friendships were blossoming and more importantly residents were finding the support they needed. We saw community engagement across our portals rise by over 700% during the first lockdown.
As well as connecting residents to one another our portals kept residents connected to developers, property managers, concierge and front-of-house staff. With the aid of the app, communication lines and building management could still exist. With face-to-face interactions off the cards, it proved crucial.
We’ve received great feedback on the importance of our PropTech for residents and businesses alike. In our conversations since, we have spoken to many developers who cite PropTech like ours not as a luxury but as a necessity in developing homes and creating communities. Our client list has more than doubled in this period, which is testament to this.
When people come to search for their new home, it’s not all just about aesthetics or even the amenities. Residents are increasingly interested in the added bonuses – who are their neighbours, what is the community like, how good are the locale services, what support is available and, by moving into a new home how it will add to their lifestyle.
Like everyone, we are continuing to reflect on the lessons of lockdown. Looking internally at how processes can be improved, how things can be streamlined to ensure our app is user friendly and current, and looking at ways we can increase efficiency.
As we head into a series of tiered systems, with greater restrictions being introduced, communities will once again rise as we tackle the hurdles ahead.