Operations/Marketing

Self-Guided Tours: Why Do Prospects Use Them?

By Todd Katler

Many apartment owners and operators may be leery of offering self-guided tours, but the data indicates prospects want and use them.

Intuitively, this makes sense. Self-service has become more and more a part of the consumer experience. Go into a fast-food restaurant and you can order and pay for your meal at a kiosk, and an employee will bring your food to you in a matter of minutes. You can order something on Amazon and it’s on your doorstep the next day.

Increasingly, prospects want to experience an apartment community on their terms. Properties that don’t give prospects the option to self-tour risk alienating prospective renters and may find it difficult to convert leads into new residents.

So, what’s the specific appeal of self-guided tours? Statistics point to a number of possibilities.

Digging into the Numbers

First off, data convincingly demonstrates the popularity of self-guided tours.

According to an Anyone Home analysis of the 2018 leasing activity of all of its single-family-rental clients, 24.4 percent of all prospects booked a tour. Of those that booked a tour, 61.3 percent chose only a self-guided one, while 30.1 percent chose only a tour with an associate. The other 8.6 percent of prospects booked both tour types.

Secondly, the numbers also show that prospects like to take self-guided tours during normal business hours.

Another Anyone Home study of its single-family-rental clients shows that, during the latter portion of 2018, only 21.2 percent of prospects requested a self-guided tour outside of office hours, while the other 78.8 percent of prospects completed a self-guided tour during regular business hours.

What does this mean? Well, it provides powerful evidence that today’s prospective renters simply want to visit and learn about an apartment community without a leasing associate hovering around them.

When prospects tour without an associate, they may feel more comfortable reacting candidly in the moment to a floor plan or the onsite amenities. If their potential roommate or a friend is with them, they may feel more at ease to talk aloud about whether they can afford the rent if an onsite team member is not there with them.

Repeat Visitors

Number crunching also reveals that prospective renters use self-guided tours to repeatedly visit a potential home.

According to an Anyone Home analysis of its single-family-rental clients, out of all the new residents who self-toured before signing leases during the last four months of 2018, 53.3 percent of these residents took more than one self-guided tour of their homes. Specifically, 30.5 percent took two to three such tours, 18.5 percent took four to six and 4.3 percent took seven or more.

Only 46.8 percent of these new residents took just one self-guided tour before signing their lease.

This shows that prospects are self-touring to truly get comfortable and familiar with their potential homes. Maybe they are using this time to take measurements to see how their furniture may fit. Perhaps they’re bringing along their parents, friends or potential roommates to get their feedback. Maybe they just want to quickly check something out in their room or on the property and they don’t have time for a lengthy associate-led tour.

Finally, the data also indicates that prospects are using self-guided tours to see a property quickly. According to Anyone Home, 61.9 percent of single-family prospects who book a self-guided tour start the tour within one hour. 

The bottom line is this: offering self-guided tours is just another way to make sure you can give prospects the experience they want. Apartment communities have to allow prospective renters to trade in their own currency – and for many of today’s leads, that currency is self-service.

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