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Building Community

An industry expert and amenity consultant shares his insights into what it takes to build community and deliver exceptional customer service.

The One Amenity That Never Goes Out of Style

In the property and hospitality line, there is a constant rush to have the latest and trendiest amenities, from urban staples such as swimming pools, fitness centers, and business lounges – to more recent, trendy options such as creator studios, infrared saunas, and salt rooms.

Yet amid all these investments into amenity space, another crucial yet often overlooked amenity is neglected – the service that occurs within these spaces.

While creating space is all about size, square footage, and built-up area, service is what takes an environment from simply being “space” to being a “place”. “What’s the difference?” you may ask. Space is simply an area that may be available for use but may be unoccupied. A place is where people go to with a clear intent and purpose in mind – an area used and designated for specific experiences – just like how many cozy coffee shops have turned retail space into a “Third Place” for many people in between work and home.

Service is what takes an environment from simply being “space” to being a “place”.

Service is what makes the difference between a common noun and a proper noun – a subtle nuance, yes, but isn’t nuance what makes all the difference in tipping a brand’s scale?

My partner Amy Blitz and I have worked on numerous amenity consulting projects and one of the first questions we are usually asked is about what kinds of new amenities renters, residents, and guests are looking for.

Without hesitation, the first answer on our lips is usually – service. We believe that the person looking at a new or existing rental or condo is choosing a lifestyle, rather than a cold, hard unit of space or built-up area.

A lifestyle is more than just the tangible and concrete but it involves feelings, emotions, motivations, memories, and a sense of place, or belonging.

They involve first and foremost people-driven interactions that are unique, memorable, positive, and personal. Such interactions may happen by chance, but it can also be engineered with the right planning and organization, delivered with intensity and passion. It is such interactions that will be the hallmarks of the next amenity at your property, whether it’s a new property or an already existing one.

To draw from the travel industry, take for example a trip to the museum - a day out at the museum isn’t happenstance; the cultural experience represents efforts that have been years and even hundreds of years in the making to turn a building into a cultural treasure trove.

We feel developments need spaces, and size of the space and other tangible specs are an essential ingredient to building a successful sales and leasing program, but the bigger opportunity for differentiation is service. There are the outliers – buildings with reputations for unbelievable service, but we feel there could be many more and are building a team with the expertise to bring this to life. It’s a process driven exercise in understanding what people want and will want in the future. It involves intent listening, and precise execution because the details are nimble and numerous – very, very numerous.

We believe that the opportunity will be great for those who plan a holistic, immersive experience for their residents. The opportunity is available to all buildings, no matter how big or small, how old or modern. Even if a building lacks a lounge or game room, service is an amenity that everyone can provide. Creating a brand built around service makes perceived value tangible.

Yes, to stay on top of its game, a property will need to keep up with trends, be it the latest co-working spaces with 3D printers or workshops with great tools and virtual reality simulators… but not in a vacuum without the right service. Planned service goals, genuine and sincere interactions and a structured program of events is what we feel will become the new norm. Our focus on being a service provider that will transform spaces into places that create value – value for the users, and value for the developers who manage to successfully deliver service and brand to new residents and customers.

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This is an excellent post, Jeremy. I believe that amenities are not "set it and forget it", and instead need nurturing to get the most response. Integrating a set of events, activities, and experiences with an amenity will help to transition...

This is an excellent post, Jeremy. I believe that amenities are not "set it and forget it", and instead need nurturing to get the most response. Integrating a set of events, activities, and experiences with an amenity will help to transition that amenity from one only effective during the initial sale to one that is effective for renewals, too!

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  Brent Williams
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You are totally right Brent, many folks see amenities as part of the lease up, but the data shows that properly run and a thoughtful approach to resident experience can yield high renewal rates. We have data which shows this result.
Plus if you...

You are totally right Brent, many folks see amenities as part of the lease up, but the data shows that properly run and a thoughtful approach to resident experience can yield high renewal rates. We have data which shows this result.
Plus if you take into account the next generation, iGens for example, they want to be recognized by their names and interests, something we are already building towards with a personalized approach to Amenity Management. Than you for the comment!

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  jeremy Brutus
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Loved reading this. As an owner of a boutique multi-family property management company, we have to continually remind staff that these "places" we lease out are the "homes" where hopes, dreams, turmoil....everything part of the human condition...

Loved reading this. As an owner of a boutique multi-family property management company, we have to continually remind staff that these "places" we lease out are the "homes" where hopes, dreams, turmoil....everything part of the human condition takes place. If we look at it this way, we have more empathy and compassion in our daily dealings, even when "bad" things happen...even caused by the resident.

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  Neil Cadman
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I read many of these articles. The trash valet "service" is loved by residents. It always seems to get forgotten or left out without mention of being amenity or ancillary income. Are owners not aware of the value?

  Susan Watson
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Thank you Susan for the comment! You are totally correct, the valet has incredible value, and unfortunately it is a position which the some developers and property management firms pass over for a small fee or percentage of the dry cleaning...

Thank you Susan for the comment! You are totally correct, the valet has incredible value, and unfortunately it is a position which the some developers and property management firms pass over for a small fee or percentage of the dry cleaning revenue. A little creativity goes a long way!

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  jeremy Brutus

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