Are you and your residents in the mood to give back this holiday season? We’ve got the perfect event idea for you. This holiday season focus on not only getting but GIVING as well. So, how about hosting a party where you can do both!
A Give & Get Party is a simple and fun way to engage your residents, while also giving back to the community around you.
Reach out to residents and ask if they have any toy drives like charities they would like to focus on this holiday season. You could do this as a poll in your “The People of [community name]” Pages. Once you have picked a charity, reach out to that charity to let them know about your plan to donate and see if they want to become more involved in the event. Host an entertaining, lively party with a focus on that charity, encouraging residents to bring a gift for a toy drive.
At the party, have a white elephant gift exchange for those who took part in the toy drive, OR send those residents home with a fun gift in return for participating in the joyous season of giving.
It’s that time of year again where we are working around the clock to make sure our upcoming residents and transfers new homes are ready to go for their big day! If only our residents knew what our teams go through in a short 15 day period to turn their units from looking like a frat house, to a never lived in apartment….but they don’t, so keep this in mind when move-in day rolls around. Your new residents are very unaware of all the hard work it took and the lack of sleep you have experienced, but try looking at things from their perspective.
How would you like it if you were a student who looked forward to this day and you get to the community and someone hands you a key packet with a number on it, a folder with some FAQ’s and sent you on your way with no smile and nothing to make your experience special? You are basically letting all the hard work you did from leasing through the year to turning units go down the drain if you don’t deliver a positive experience on move-in day.
**First Impressions Matter People!
So how do we achieve a memorable move in experience that our residents will share with their friends? The easiest way to do this is to offer something exciting the day of that gets people talking and more importantly “posting.” If we can capture our residents on social platforms the day they move in then we won’t have to work as hard during the year to build our audience, which will help make our marketing and retention efforts much easier.
Move in day should be looked at as a fresh start, not a daunting task that you dread year after year. I’ve rounded up some easy ways to provide an experience that will get your new residents following and posting their move-in day experience on social media.
Rent A Photo Booth
This is a great way to get people excited to pick up their keys! Contact a local company and have them set up in your move in center for the day. While people are standing around waiting they can play around in the photo booth with their new roommates or maybe even their parents? Make sure to get one that requires little staff involvement and one that also allows the photo’s to be shared digitally to social media outlets. Come up with a creative hashtag and encourage residents to tag your community in these photos. These booths can range anywhere from $350-$800 in most markets. (Call and schedule them, before your comps do!)
Fun Food Display
Having something “instaworthy” on the day of your move in will definitely get your new residents buzzing about your community. Think of something unique that pertains to your community, market, university, or state and go with it! People love food, so think outside of the box (literally, do not lay out pizza boxes, this isn’t memorable) GET CREATIVE!
(These cookies can be customized with your logo and ordered on etsy. Make sure to place your orders to get these in time for move-in day!)
(Have a creative team member or maintenance lead? Buy a peg board and create a custom designed donut wall!)
Ice Cream Or Popscicle Delivery
Continue the customer service experience after you’ve handed out keys by offering your new residents a tasty treat or drink while they are moving in. Typically August is a hot month and moving can be stressful so try to make this experience more enjoyable by assigning a few of your team members (temp help or hire a company) to go around and deliver popsicles, ice cream, or smoothies while people are moving in. This is just another level of customer service that’s cheap and easy to do. Your new residents and their parents are more likely to remember the amazing move in experience that you created which makes them less likely to find things to complain about within their unit. (Everyone Wins!)
Always remember to keep first impressions in mind when you are prepping for move-in day! If you create a memorable move in experience, you are setting yourself up for a successful year!
Feel free to reach out to your PSM’s or GMM to brainstorm ways to make sure you are prepared to make your move-in day unforgettable!
Alright, everyone has moved in and most things are beginning to settle down. It’s now time to make a great first impression on all your new residents by putting on a day full of resident events soon after move-in. This is the perfect opportunity to bring your community together as a whole and get everyone out to meet their new neighbors.
One of our communities here in Denver recently did an all day festival with informational and fitness classes during the day leading up to a silent disco with food trucks and yard games at night. It was an excellent turnout and really brought the whole community together.
So how do you put on an all day festival and what are some ideas on activities to put on? See below!
Start off the day by giving your new residents some fun and healthy events. Utilize the gym or yoga room at your community to host this. Events could include;
Maybe a resident is an instructor who would be interested in hosting one of these classes, otherwise reach out to local instructors who can host these classes!
–Group Painting Class– It’s time to bring out the creativity in everyone. Utilize a community room, clubhouse, or study room to host this event. Hire a local artist to host a painting class. Provide canvases, paint supplies, and wine/snacks for the 21+ crowd. The artist can take residents, step-by-step, through the process of creating an amazing work of art, perfect for some new decor in their apartment!
–Cooking Class– Maybe this is some of your residents first apartment. And most college students probably only know how to make some Ramen and pizza rolls. So why not bring in professional chef to teach a cooking class. They’ll share some great and simple recipes and some kitchen basics. You’ve got a recipe for resident event success!
The night events are going to be the biggest and where you’re really going to want to put in the most time/money. Pick a couple activities to host during the night. Ideas for the night could include;
–Food Truck Extravaganza– Food trucks are an awesome way for your community to throw a party without stressing about catering. It’s also a great way to introduce new residents to the culture, sights, sounds, and tastes of their new home. Invite the best local food trucks to park in your community. You can provide residents with tickets to try a variety of different foods.
–DJ or Live Band– Rent big speakers, hire a local DJ, and throw the dance party of the year. From a conga line to breakdancing, let your residents lead the way!
–Yard Games– Have a variety of different lawn games set up for residents to play such as corn hole, bucket-ball, human sized foosball, soap hockey, and sand volleyball.
–Bonfire S’Mores Under the Stars– Have a fire-pit at your community? That’s going to be perfect for having s’mores around the fire!
–Movie on the Lawn– Rent an inflatable screen and project a popular movie on the lawn! Residents can bring blankets and relax getting to know each other.
Remember, you don’t have to put on all the events above. Just pick and few here and there that you think will fit your community festival the best! A little inspiration goes a long way so let’s kick off the year to a great start and set the bar high for resident retention at events!
The Kentucky Derby is May 4th & 5th and even if you don’t know a thing about horse races, you can still throw a killer party in honor of this historic sporting event. Your residents will love this spring themed party, I mean who doesn’t want to break out their best hat, bow tie, and sip on mint juleps while watching horses run in a circle? Sound like something you want to try out at your community?
Here are some tips and a list of essentials to get started below!
The first step is to think about where you would host this event and how it fits into your community. Do you have a space that offers tv’s to watch the derby, but also enough space to entertain guests with food, drinks, and games.
A few spots come to mind:
Rooftop Deck-This would be my first choice especially if this space has TVs.
Clubhouse-Almost every community has a clubhouse where they host resident events. If you go this route, use greenery and roses to make this feel like an outdoor party.
Pool Deck-You could turn this into a pool party inspired event featuring your own Unicorn Float Races!
Here is a list of things you will need to pull off your very own derby party!
Party City has an entire section of themed derby day decor.
*Most of the food can be catered, but get creative with it based on what your residents like. We do not expect you to make this food from scratch but do keep in mind a classic southern style menu when hosting this event and steer clear of the pizza party vibe.
Keep in mind the aesthetics when putting together this and future events. The more you put into it the better return you will receive from your residents. We want every event to be an “Instagrammable” moment that your residents are proud to share!
We all know Easter Egg Hunts are soo elementary school. You hunt for eggs and all you get is candy. But what if there was an Easter Egg Hunt for adults? Where you have no idea what will be in the eggs you find. Maybe there’s some booze, some bacon, some condoms, or the normal chocolate. Introducing the Rotten Egg Hunt!
Residents will love the creative twist on this event and its perfect for college students! It is also relatively inexpensive to put on.
Event Item List
Easter Eggs. These can be purchased at your local grocery or party store.
Adult Surprises. Some examples are booze, bacon, condoms, chocolate. Really you can put whatever you’d like in the eggs!
It is important to market this event a couple weeks prior to the event and create an event on FB for residents to RSVP. This way you will know how many residents to expect and how many Easter eggs and surprises to buy.
This is a pretty simple set up! Purchase all Easter eggs and surprises to stuff the Easter eggs with. Fill all Easter eggs with the surprises. Next, hide all the Easter eggs throughout the community. It is suggested to do this event outside and have all the eggs hidden on the outside of the community. Now you’re ready for the rotten egg hunt! Gather all residents outside the community and go over how this event will take place. Will there be a time limit? Will there be a prize for the resident who finds to most eggs? That’s up to you!
Have a local bar or restaurant sponsor this event and have some food and drinks following the event!
Ready to put on this event for your residents!? An RFC can be put in HERE
Most communities have a sand volleyball court and with the warm weather quickly approaching residents will start using this amenity more and more. Sand volleyball is always fun for residents, but most of the time they are playing during the day. So we thought to take it to the next level and play at NIGHT. This is simple to put on using string lights. It is suggested to have residents create teams and sign up in the office. A tournament bracket can then be created for the amount of teams signed up and there can be prizes for the winning teams.
Read below to see how to put on the relatively inexpensive event!
Event Item List
String lights. These can be strung through the volleyball net and around the court.
Glow volleyball. This can be purchased on Amazon Here.
First, purchase all items needed to put on this event. You will want to begin the set up with stringing the lights through the volleyball net. This will light up the court enough for players to be able to see. Next, you will want to place string lights around the outside of the court. This way players will be know where the out of bounds is. Finally, create the tournament bracket and play volleyball!
It would be a good idea to cater in some food and hire a DJ to get the most out of this event for your residents! Make a night of it and get your residents talking about this experience!
Ready to really throw a twist on a common event!? Introducing Bunny, Puppy, or Goat Yoga! And yes, we mean real goats, puppies, and bunnies attending yoga with you.
We’ve talked about the importance of crafting unique and memorable experiences for your residents and this event is sure to deliver. It’s just like a regular yoga class, except there are adorable little animals running around. Which basically sounds like heaven, right? So, to create this memorable experience we’ll need to first decide where this event will take place. If your community has an enclosed gym or yoga room this will be the perfect place. The location will need to be enclosed in order to keep the animals in the room with the attendees. Once you have selected your space you will need to gather yoga mats. The amount will vary depending on the number of attendees. If your community has yoga mats already, perfect! But we suggest encouraging attendees to bring their own as well.
The next component to this event is obviously the yoga instructor! Hire a local yoga instructor or reach out to residents to find an instructor willing to join in on this fun event.
Now that the scene is set, it’s time to get the animals! We suggest getting the animals from a local goat farm, rabbit rescue, or animal shelter. Again, the number of animals will depend on the number of attendees but around 10-15 animals is suggested.
Not only is this a fun event to get your community talking, but it is also a great way to incorporate fundraising for local animal shelters. Some ideas include:
Working with the local shelter and all dogs/bunnies adopted that day will have their pet fee waived.
If attendees post a photo or video on social media using a specific hashtag we will donate a certain amount of money to the shelter.
Dodgeball is a fun event that is played at many student housing communities across the country. At Cardinal Group we look to take all of our events to the next level to create remarkable experiences. Dodgeball is no different. Color Dodgeball takes elements from a classic dodgeball game and the popular 5K Color Run to create an epic new event. During this event teams will play dodgeball but with paint-soaked balls! Keep reading to find out how you can pull this fun event on the cheap!
Basic Event Setup
This event can be done for as little as $125 with a basic setup (although we recommend you go for creating a remarkable experience with the Epic version). Find a grassy area at your community. It should be away from areas where balls could possibly break windows. Once you’ve selected your area use the spray chalk can to outline the play area. You can use THIS image as a guide but you can make your arena any size. Once the arena is set place 3 black buckets at the far boundary line of each side and fill with one color of chalk paint (don’t put all the paint in the buckets in case of an accidental spill). Participants will use these buckets to dip dodgeballs in during play. Either provide players with white t-shirts or ask them to come ready to play in their own white t-shirt. This will ensure the paint really pops on their clothing. Boom you’re all set up! Now just play a fun dodgeball tournament! Keep reading below to find out how you can amplify this event even more!
Epic Event Setup
First, read the setup instructions of the “basic event setup”. You’ll want to begin setup the same way. Once you’ve completed the basic setup it’s time to get EPIC! Setup you PA system and/or DJ at the center line but outside the court. This will provide a fun and lively atmosphere. Next, you’ll want to set up your black lights. These industrial strength black lights work best if they are mounted at a height of at least 6-8 feet from the ground and angled down slightly. Your area may have poles, trees, or other things that you can mount to to get this height. If you don’t have these luxuries you can have your maintenance team build an apparatus to mount to. One simple way to build this mounting mechanism is to buy some rebar from your local home improvement store and drive them into the ground about 2 ft. Next, buy an 8ft long 2×4 and affix it to the rebar using screws and metal straps. Your 2×4 should now be erect in the air with support from the rebar it is affixed to. Finally, secure the black light at the top of the 2×4 with a long screw. Plug in your black lights and you’re ready to glow (pun intended)! Of course, the blacklights will only work in the dark so this event will need to be held at night. Check out this video of an event using these industrial black lights and paint! Highlighters glow extremely bright under blacklights and are very cheap. Set out highlighters for your participants to decorate their shirts and bodies.This
You can take this epic event up one more notch by having your maintenance team help you build walls at the back of your court. Use tape to mask off a cool design on your wall and then set them up at each end of the court. At the end of your event remove the tape and you should have a cool piece of art! Check out this video to see an example.
At the end of every year, social media feeds become inundated with people’s top memories from the past 365 days. These memories are often highlights from the most memorable experiences that vary from life-changing events like a wedding to a small concert with their best friend.
Our industry has the unique ability to become an integral part of a person’s yearly story. Think about it, we are providing people’s homes where they spend between 46% of their daily lives. Remarkable experiences happen every day in our residents’ homes but rarely are apartment management companies the catalysts of these experiences. Sure, we may provide good customer service, keep grounds clean, and fix maintenance requests quickly but these things won’t make a year-end social media highlight reel.
So, why should you care about your community being featured on somebody’s Instagram Best Nine? Why does it matter if you create some epic experience when you already provide a great apartment home? Because these remarkable experiences will lead to a stronger more loveable brand, your community will stand for much more than a simple shelter, and ultimately you’ll sign more new leases and renewals.
When a resident is deciding on whether they will renew or not they will assess your community based on what psychologists call the “peak-end rule”. The peak-end rule states that a person will “judge an experience largely based on how they felt at its peak (i.e., its most intense point) and at its end, rather than based on the total sum or average of every moment of the experience.” The peak could be a good experience like a fantastic resident event or a poor experience like a flood. By crafting remarkable experiences throughout the year you have a better shot at creating a fantastic peak moment and thus a renewal.
Remarkable experiences can also help you attract new leases. When a prospect is thinking about where to live next they will only recall three to seven options. Creating remarkable experiences while marketing to prospects will help your community carve out a spot in the prospects consideration set. Not only will remarkable experiences help you stay top of mind but they’ll also help strengthen your brand story and provide an offering your competitors can’t match. You may not have the ability to alter price,layout, or location, but you do have the ability to create remarkable experiences at your community
OK, so you’re ready to craft some epic experiences. Where do you start? Remarkable experiences should take place in as many touch points as possible including customer service, lease signings, and resident events. Having said this, events are probably the easiest place to start. When thinking through the events that you hold for residents and prospects follow the simple MISS rule. By integrating each part of MISS you’re sure to be on your way to crafting a remarkable experience.
In order for an experience to become remarkable it must be memorable. There isn’t a single formula to crafting a memorable experience but implementing one or more of the tactics below will help lead to one.
Manufacture something that is 100% unique. Unique experiences are more memorable because they easily stand above the noise. For example, your community could hold a Zombie Laser Tag tournament. This is a unique event that likely no one has experienced and thus makes it more memorable than an average event.
Elevate a normal experience. Elevating a standard experience to the next level can which makes it more memorable. For example, most people have been bowling before but have never gone human-sized cosmic bowling. Combining some human-sized inflatable orbs, giant bowling pins, black lights, and some glow tape/paint creates an epic and memorable event. Check out some inspiration below.
Surprise your audience. Surprises are unexpected and thus become more memorable. For example, many apartment communities hold casino nights with various casino type games. If you hold this type of event surprise attendees by telling them the person at the end of the night with the most chips wins a free weekend in Las Vegas AND they leave that night! This event instantly becomes more memorable because of this surprise.
A great experience is interactive. Many events apartment communities hold are very passive. Breakfast on the go, movie nights, Waffle Wednesday, and National Ice Cream Day are all very passive in nature. Residents come down, grab a bite, maybe chat with another resident for a minute and then are gone. These events don’t encourage or require attendees to become part of the event itself. Interactive events make better experiences because the attendee is engulfed in the experience instead of a wall fly.
A great example of an interactive experience is Paint Dodgeball. Find a grassy area (or other area that won’t be permanently affected by paint), dip dodgeballs in paint, and play dodgeball in white clothing. Elevate the experience with some black lights and glow paint! This event requires people to become part of the action and thus is much more memorable than a more passive event.
Develop experiences that involve as many senses as possible. Experiences that are sensory rich become more interesting because of these stimuli. The elements that play into each sense also play a big part in the overall execution of the event. For example, on-site concerts often only focus on sound. Of course, sound is extremely important but implementing sight, touch, taste, and smell can turn a run-of-the-mill concert into a much better experience. Think of all of the concerts that now include color powder cannons, light shows, themed food, and beach balls floating in the crowd.
Just as the music industry has embraced all five senses so should we. Think about the pool parties most apartment communities hold. Think through how elements of the event can affect the senses. A hot local DJ or band can provide a pleasant listening experience. A frozen slushie machine in a custom branded flavor can amplify the tastes at the event. The smell of BBQ wafts through the air. Misting stations fulfill the touch sense by keeping attendees cool. Oh, and if you move the entire party to a lake or river and float everything you have an unexpected visual.
Last but not least, the experience you develop should tell a story about your brand. Holding an event that doesn’t tie into your brand’s core offering or story won’t help amplify what your community stands for. Instead, it injects brand confusion and doesn’t help separate you from your competitors. For example, if your community’s brand story is to offer a luxury VIP lifestyle it doesn’t make sense to offer free doughnuts for a Breakfast on the Go event. Doughnuts in no way tie into either a luxury or VIP lifestyle. Instead t, is community should offer an invite/RSVP only brunch on the rooftop featuring a cooking class from a hot local chef, champagne, and someone playing guitar. This event adds a chapter to their brand story further illustrating the brand’s purpose.
While it may seem difficult to shake away from the lifeless experiences our industry typically offers, it is imperative we do so. We have a unique opportunity to craft remarkable experiences that meld into our core offering, their home. In 2018 I challenge each team to think strategically about the experiences they offer their residents and prospects. Experiences that are so good that at the end of 2018 your residents and prospects are posting an experience from your community in their Instagram best nine. Start by creating remarkable event experiences. I promise putting in the time to these experience will create real value at your community. If you have any questions or examples of remarkable experiences you’ve created please comment below or send me an email!
The single most beneficial thing you can do for your community on social media is to get others to post about your community. Sure, posting photos of last night’s event or advertising your latest special on your community’s social channels is important, but it is not nearly as valuable as user-generated content. When a user posts a photo of your community, raves about an event, or simply shows their home in the background they are exposing their followers to your brand. By encouraging user-generated content you’ll expand your social reach way beyond your current fan base. If that wasn’t enough consumers are much more likely to make a purchase if a friend posts something positive about a brand on social media.
So how do you encourage more user-generated content? There are many many ways but a fun and easy one is through a Hashtag printer. Simply program the printer to print our a photo anytime someone uses a certain hashtag. For example, if you have a pool party and tell guests to use #BlissPoolParty the printer would automatically print out a photo of their post on social media using this hashtag. You can even design the background to match your branding!
Below is a list of the equipment you’ll need to create this Hashtag Printer come true!