Residents can score points as a reward for performing common tasks at their apartment community.
For decades, points-based loyalty programs have been a mainstay of the airline and hotel industries, among others. Now the market-rate apartment housing sector is getting in on the game.
In January, Gables Residential, manager of more than 31,000 apartment homes across the country, launched CAPTIVATE! at all of its apartment communities. The program offers residents the opportunity to earn points by pursing activities that benefit both them and the communities in which they live.
“It’s an opportunity for us to interact and stay engaged with our residents, hopefully establishing long-term loyalty between both parties and greater resident retention while enhancing brand loyalty,” Gigi Giannoni, Vice President of Marketing and Public Relations at Gables Residential, says.
The platform runs on an app created by Modern Message that residents can download from the Apple App Store or Google Play. With the exception of writing a third-party review, residents can earn points for engaging in the following activities, among others:
- Paying rent online
- Submitting suggestions and feedback
- Following the apartment community’s social media channels
- Completing surveys
- RSVPing to and attending community events
- Celebrating yearly anniversaries
- Joining the resident portal
Residents may cash out accrued points for gift cards, community-specific benefits, trips and more. And points move with residents, as long as they move to another Gables community.
“Your points continue to grow as long as you are a resident at Gables,” Giannoni says. “Even if you leave us and come back, points can be reinstated. Our goal is to establish stronger resident retention while continuing to be financially responsible to our residents, our company and our investors.”
Through the program, Gables is aiming to increase website traffic, social media followers, online reputation, Gables’ brand awareness and renewals and retention year-over-year.
At several communities, Gables previously tested the standard version of Modern Message’s gamification program called Community Rewards, which had a resident engagement rate that averaged 30 percent, Giannoni says.
“By converting that gamification process to a long-term points-reward program, and adding a lot more to it, we believe that the engagement will enhance, our resident loyalty will be longer and our resident retention will be greater,” she says.
Gables’ has covered the upfront costs of launching the platform, and each apartment community pays a monthly fee of 50 cents per unit with a three-year commitment to the premium program to run it. The cost of redemption won’t be known for at least a year, but Giannoni is excited to be among the first companies to test a custom-branded, points-based loyalty strategy designed for long-term retention method in the multifamily space.
“The bottom line is that we have always known that the cost to retain a resident is a lot less than getting a new resident,” Giannoni says.
With the pace of new construction slowing, “we are seeing property management companies shifting their focus to retention strategies,” says John Hinckley, CEO, Modern Message.
Gayle Bennett is a freelance reporter.