The things that truly set your luxury properties apart are the intangibles. Most luxury buildings have a beautiful lobby, a gym with high end workout equipment, and attractive apartments with above-average views. But not all also foster a thriving community, a feeling of belonging, and the sense that management is “going the extra mile” to promote overall resident connectedness and wellbeing.
Why run resident events?
Events increase resident satisfaction and retention:
According to resident engagement app-maker Flamingo, “the highest [resident] retention rates among our customers [property managers] are the ones that are constantly and consistently doing events.”
Events create advertising for your property:
The right event can create social media “buzz” among residents that spreads to their friends, family, and connections. (Pro tip: Choose a special hashtag for your event and offer a prize for the best resident-posted photo.) Events can also bring in local news coverage - not to mention lots of free “word of mouth” advertising - and keep your property relevant and current in people’s minds.
Events build community and improve resident relationships:
Residents who build good friendships with their neighbors are more likely to renew their leases, and less likely to enter into disputes with other residents.
How to choose the right resident event for your property:
A successful resident event is a combination of timing, planning, budgeting, advertising, and targeting the ideal group of residents. You’ll want to consider:
How much is your event budget?
You can run a simple social media contest or scavenger hunt that costs you under $50, an extravagant suit-and-tie casino event, or anything in between.
How much time do you have to plan?
It takes five minutes a day to hide a garden gnome for your residents to find somewhere on the property, but running this daily contest one month a year will create a lot of smiles and fun for both adults and kids. It’s likely to take several hours or more to plan a food-related resident event like a resident potluck or “choose the best pizza in the city” tasting. Make sure you balance the amount of engagement and “buzz” the event will create with the amount of time you spend planning it.
When (and where) will you host your event?
Consider the season and the number of residents who are likely to attend. A food truck event is best planned on a weekend evening when weather will be nice and bugs will be minimal. Special resident fitness events and classes (think guest yoga instructors or dance for fitness) can take place year-round, and are best scheduled for early mornings or weekday evenings after work.
Which residents are likely to attend your event?
Not every event will appeal to every resident - nor should it! In fact, it’s a great idea to plan multiple events that will appeal to smaller resident demographics. Residents with children will appreciate family-friendly resident events like a “cardboard car” drive-in movie or a weekly storytime for different age groups. Adult residents might prefer the ever-popular “paint-’n-sip” night or a poetry reading/book signing by a traveling writer. Consider planning events that directly involve your residents, too - a spring decluttering event or resident swap meet where the public is invited can help keep your complex tidy and bring in new potential renters - and leftover items can be donated to charity!
How will you advertise your event?
It’s a good idea to calendar out your year’s events ahead of time - you don’t have to have every detail in place, but distributing a calendar will get residents excited about upcoming events. Announce events via social media, flyers, and through your resident app or property management software.
What kinds of resident events can you host at your property?
There are hundreds of creative events you could host for your residents, but it’s convenient to look at them in terms of categories:
1. Food-related resident events:
It’s pretty universal that people love to eat! In addition the food truck night, resident potluck, and “best pizza in the city” tasting mentioned above, you could try an ice cream social, a resident bagel bar or other breakfast bar, or even a Thanksgiving event - think dinner or pie night.
2. Entertainment events (movies, books, performing arts, etc.):
Easily themed for the time of year, entertainment events can range from a resident talent show (which you can run in-person or online); a film showing (choose a theme your residents will love); a performance or talk by an author, magician, or motivational speaker; or, if your apartment has the right facilities and you have the time and budget, you could even organize a more extensive or informative entertainment event, like a local TedX event.
3. Fitness and sports events:
For your residents who are athletic, health-conscious, or just love to watch football, there are a myriad of potential events you could plan, including a Super Bowl party, a health fair, organizing resident walking groups or biking groups, and many other options for social fitness fun.
4. Family friendly and kids’ events:
A kids’ carnival can be planned for any season, and any number of attendees, but it’s best as a fun outdoor event, complete with bounce houses, carnival games, and prizes. For indoor activities, you could host a video game party or rent some arcade games and offer prizes for high scores. Opportunities for kids to create arts and crafts, like gifts or cards for Mother’s Day or Valentine’s Day are also easy-to-plan options.
5. Arts and crafts events:
While we’re on the subject of arts and crafts, this category lets your residents show off their creativity! A door decorating competition is a great, easy-to-run event that requires very little time to organize - and it’s great for holidays like Halloween or Christmas, or special events like the Olympics or Super Bowl. For outdoor decor, a chalk your walk contest is also an option. Candle-making, wine glass decorating, and painting classes (like the sip ‘n paint night mentioned above) can all be brought in-house by hiring an instructor or purchasing your own supplies.
6. Pet friendly and animal-related events:
If your property allows pets, then pet-friendly events are a great way to draw a crowd! Most human-themed events can be adapted to include - or focus on! - pets. Arrange a Halloween pet costume contest or photos with “Santa Paws.” Stage a pet health fair and invite local veterinarians, pet food and toy vendors, “barkery” owners, or even pet adoption agencies. Host a “dog walkathon” in support of a local animal charity. Hire a pet photographer and let residents sign up for portraits with their furry (or feathery, or scaly) friends!
7. Community-focused, nonprofit, and “give back” events:
Start a “Random Acts of Kindness” challenge among your residents (it can last for a week, a month, or a whole year!); engage residents in planting or working on a community garden together; organize a “give back” week where residents can sign up to volunteer together for local charities (you can incentivize volunteering with fun t-shirts, free food from local vendors, and social media testimonials from past volunteer events); or host a “donation days” event where residents can gather clothes/toys/food/etc. and drop them off in the lobby to give to local charitable organizations.
8. “Fancy” events, galas, and “above and beyond” events:
Like the “casino night” event mentioned above, some events are once-a-year “special events” that require lots of planning and a higher budget. Unless you have a high events budget or a full time community events planner, it’s a good idea not to host more than one or two of these a year. You might try a decade-themed costume party like the “roaring 20’s” - complete with a photo booth, dance instructor, jazz band, and famous 1920’s cocktails - a “50’s sock hop” (think gourmet burgers, a milkshake bar, and a rented jukebox where residents can cue up their favorite 50’s tunes) or “70’s disco ball.” The classic black tie event (consider renting a red carpet and hiring a photographer, and arranging live music, like a violinist or string quartet) is popular for a reason: people love an excuse to dress up.
9. Educational events:
Educational events can range from practical - like emergency preparedness, tax prep parties, CPR/First Aid training, or hosting self-defense classes at your complex’s gym - to fanciful - like hiring an astronomer or inviting a local astronomy club for a stargazing night on your complex’s roof. Consider sending out a poll to residents to see which educational events they would be most interested in.
10. Social-media events:
Don’t underestimate the power of simple social media “mini-events.” Simple one-post mini-events could include: “Guess how many candies are in the jar in the lobby,” “Win a football if you correctly predict the score of today’s game!”, “Friday fitness challenge: Post how many steps you walk today,” “Post a photo of your dinner to win a [gift card to local restaurant],” etc. Some events (like costume contests or talent shows) can also easily be run digitally instead of in-person.
How many resident events should you plan each year?
The number of events you decide to hold will depend on your available planning time, resident engagement, event cost, and more, but a good guideline for properties that want to focus on increasing resident retention through regular events is to hold:
1-3 larger events per year
These are the kind of events that are open to the public, have a ticket cost, or will attract most or all of your residents.
1-2 medium or small events per month
These should be simpler events that attract a portion of your community, like a new fitness class or a movie night.
1 small event (or 1-2 social media “mini” events) per week
These should be easy “walkthrough” events or simple-to-run contests, like a Valentine’s card-making station, door decorating, garden gnome hunt, or any of the social media events mentioned above.
As with any new community building efforts, your resident appreciation events can start small. You don’t have to run twenty new events your first year, or throw a planning-intensive party. Small, consistent efforts to engage residents will add up over time - so start with a handful of mini-event, and let the momentum build from there! Your residents will appreciate the extra effort - and the time you spend building a thriving resident community will mean better resident retention, higher resident satisfaction, and more renewed leases next year.
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