Multifamily Review Trends from the Brainstorming Sessions

Augmented reality  is a term used to describe a live direct or indirect view of  the physical real-world environment whose elements are merged with  a  virtual computer generated image – creating a  mixed reality.

More ‘real world’ developments (with a virtual twist):Expect to hear about Augmented Reality Reviews… We can all follow UDR’s experiments in this area, here’s my prediction, its going to be  some time before we have to worry about Augmented Reality Reviews more importantly, it’s not time to spend marketing dollars on it !  It’s more of novelty  at this point… you will hear lots  about it in 2010.

However,  Reading reviews on the spot will become very-popular !  Examples of real-time review sites are:

Local review site Yelp boasts the first iPhone app with augmented reality. Users can put their iPhone camera in front of a restaurant, with Yelp’s reviews then overlaying their real-world views.

GraffitiGeo a mobile service that allows users to share brief reviews of restaurants, is working on a similar iPhone app.

If and when it does take off you can bet that reviews will meet augmented reality for apartments!

How do we know augmented reality reviews are coming? ForRent Media Solutions now has  virtual communication through new Layar mobile application so that Apartment seekers can search thousands of ForRent.com apartment listings.  The application lets apartment seekers view their current location through the camera of their iPhone® 3G S or Google Android mobile phone with a “layer” that shows them all the available apartments on ForRent.com within a 10-mile radius.
As a free mobile application, available from the iTunes Store or from Android Markets, Layar shows users their surroundings by displaying real-time digital information on top of reality through the camera of their cell phone.

Once we have the applications like For Rents app, the natural course for reviews will follow. Surprisingly, so far  Reviews have been pretty much one-way. Quite a few companies still seem to believe that they’ve been granted an  ‘grace period’ when it comes to dealing with reviews. While we are no longer unaware of reviews, these companies (to a large degree) still choose to listen, not talk back, trying to ‘learn’ from the for-all-to-see Review Evolution.
Which is surprising, since a quick and honest reply or solution can defuse even the most damaging complaint.
In fact, there’s no standing on the sideline when it comes to TRANSPARENCY of reviews , and the least any brand should want or demand is the right of reply: to get their side of the story in front of the mass audiences that now scan reviews. Expect smart companies to increasingly post their apologies and solutions, preferably directly alongside reviews from unhappy customers. And yes, that should include the occasional candid rebuttal by a company that feels (and can prove) that a particular review is unfair or inaccurate.

There’s also a self-organized ‘right of reply’ for us: allowing for reviews on our own sites. All we have to do is to ask our customers and we’re in business. Biggest advantage: a guaranteed opportunity to publicly react to bad reviews that would otherwise pop up in less accessible spots. And favorable reviews will of course bring the benefit of instant endorsements.

You have no excuse for not knowing what your customers are saying about your community, and you have no excuse either for not replying to these customers   😉 In fact, you need to create a system to ask all your residents,  and all our recent lead traffic what they think about our product  PLEASE review us , needs to be your new mantra!  Automatically  you need to ASK for a review……    FORGET the paper surveys,  you need to ask for a real time review, it doesn’t get any more powerful than that!
Did you know that there are at least 13 different apartment review or recommendation sites?
StreetEasy is a free application helping users search for detailed real estate sales and rental listings across New York City and North Jersey.

Introin With introin, future residents can browse listings and find renters who can give them the inside scoop on their community.

Zilpy is a free, online rental market facts and analysis service dedicated to help site users make better rental and investment decisions. They collect data from all available sources (newspaper classifieds, online classifieds, apartment rentals, etc.) and filter the data based on selected criteria (proximity, property type, crime rate, population, income, etc.) so that the user can more easily find the right rental property for their needs.

HubBuzz takes the site visitor’s wants, needs and lifestyle into account, then offers relevant community information, neighborhood maps, descriptions and photos. Hubbuzz offers site users places to live that are based on actual preferences, “like a dating site, but the end result is your ideal apartment.”  Users get to know the neighborhoods that make up their city – what they’re known for, the main drags, and what not to miss.

Rentometer is for both renters and owners and it’s a great tool for renters to find out what median rents are in the neighborhood as well as an opportunity for you to check your rental rates against others.  Are you charging too much or too little for rent? Enter the appropriate info into the Rentometer and find out!

Apartment Ratings advertises “The most comprehensive database of apartment ratings and reviews anywhere! Find out what tenants say BEFORE you sign a lease.”

Apartment Reviews: advertises “Searching for the right apartment to rent? You’ve come to the right place. We’ll make your apartment search much easier! Read what other renters are saying about the apartments you are considering renting and how they rated the apartments.”

Check Apartment Reviews

RentWiki

Renters Paradise

Directory Apartments

Portal Apartments

Should I Rent It
Star Reviews Apartments
10ants.com

Ratemyapartment.com

The Lemon Club

Apartment and renters

Resident Approved

You may have heard me say on Facebook or Twitter that  “bad reviews are not the problem, but a symptom”. Not listening to (dissatisfied) residents is often at the root of the problem. Consumers don’t post their bad experiences right away. Most if not all will notify you first.

It’s mismanagement of complaints and conflicts that inspires posts. Whether it’s someone onsite or in your corporate offices; there’s virtually always an opportunity to settle an issue before it goes public.
And if you really screw up, beat customers to the punch by being the first to report failures.
Let customers know how you fixed their problems and how you will be fixing them. Eventually, this will free up resources and energy to actively focus on enabling happy customers to post positive reviews.
Not participating yet in the review arena? Don’t even think about just dipping your toes in: dive into and learn from, if not copy what others are already doing . For example twitter. Look, this isn’t difficult!: starting the conversation on Twitter is easy (five minutes and you’re up and running) and it certainly won’t cost you a fortune. If you don’t “get” Twitter, or you think Twitter is a fad that’s ok with me but know that REAL TIME Information is here to stay and if it’s not Twitter it could be Google Wave or something else that offers instant information.

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