Property Management Going Mobile: Mobile Websites and Apps “Must-Haves” Now?

I was out to dinner the other night in Uptown Charlotte and saw the typical 21st century young, urban couple. They were dressed stylishly, moved with grace, were good-looking, and barely talked or looked at each other the entire time I saw them at the restaurant. Were they:

A. In a fight?
B. Shy mutes?
C. Engrossed with their mobile phones?

Of course, and sadly, the most probable answer in today’s world is C. I have a difficult time with this! I want to say, “Buddy, wake up! You’re with a good-looking woman; I can’t believe I have to tell you to look up and talk to her, instead of texting your friend, Chuck! What’s wrong with you?”

So, being a grown man, I had to decide whether to cry about this newer phenomenon or accept it. After some internal wrangling, I’m happy to report that my righteous indignation has passed and I’ve accepted this digitally-inspired apathy towards fellow humans as the “new normal”. So what does this consumer love affair with mobile phones mean to property managers?

It means we better get in the game in the mobile realm. Regular websites have worked really well for a while, but change has come again. New renters are going to want to use their smart phones to search for rentals near them (aided by GPS), fill out rental applications, pay application fees, and put down deposits. They want the whole rental process available from their mobile phones.

What specifically does this mean? It means we better have mobile websites that allow them to do this; the mobile websites need to include only succinct information potential renters would want when on the go. It also means we need a mobile application (a custom company “app”) that customers can put on their devices so we own some real estate on their phones. Trends show that home internet connections are on the way of landline phones; the new battleground is the mobile phone. We need to be on as many as possible.

A mobile website is critical when consumers search for property management companies from their smart phones. Will yours come up? If it does, can consumers easily find rental homes, contact you (even text you!), and do everything you want them to do (like they can when you see them in your office or when they are in front of their home computer?)

An app is critical to sealing the relationship with customers. How can they remember you when they are on their mobile phones? Your app (with your company logo) sitting with the rest of the apps they use everyday is a good start. This is a good way to build mindshare and also to make it easy for your customers to contact you and refer you to their friends. Not an apps believer? Apps are set to be a $36B business by 2015- a lot of people use them and will be using them!

Change is hard, but the mobile revolution is not going away. If making a property management company last long term is the goal, mobile websites and apps are now “must-haves”!

Games and Brand Extension – Do They Click?

For this article I wanted to look into the way that traditional games and gaming elements have been used to enter the mainstream space from a business standpoint to either incentivise consumers or engage them on a different level.

Games are primarily an entertainment medium, but that hasn’t stopped companies from having games developed to reach a different demographic than perhaps represents their core market. An ad campaign may run for 2 weeks, 4 weeks or 2 months but branding within a game can have a much longer shelf life. The most common example of brand extension within the gaming arena focuses on movie tie-ins. Many Disney/Pixar films release a game based on the film around the same date. It helps consumers engage with the film on a deeper level and get to know the characters and brand better making it ultimately more likely that additional purchases of merchandise or DVDs are made. The main issue with game tie-ins however is often they are rushed to coincide with the film release and most end up being fairly average titles. The sheer fact that the majority are aimed at a very young audience means though that children tend not to worry too much about this and just enjoy controlling the characters.

Looking at something completely different from an engagement aspect. Papa John’s pizza in the UK released a mobile gaming app which had you deal with pizza orders and create pizzas as perfectly and speedily as possible. App was priced at 69p with the hook being if you reached a certain score then you could earn a free pizza. It was a well made game and was quite a fun stand alone game as well as being challenging in the later levels. The only disappointing part was upon reaching your free pizza it was for collection only which limited me somewhat but was still a good prize.

Weight Watchers UK campaign last year focused on treating weight loss like a game thanks to the point system that was in use. It was an interesting take on things but it wasn’t continued for the 2013 marketing campaign. Arguably, despite the fresh take on losing weight, it didn’t engage the largely female audience of its membership base as even now, females are still in the minority when it comes to enjoying games. It perhaps didn’t resonate as strongly as it should have.

When there is a natural gaming tie-in that fits organically such as in Wreck-It-Ralph you get the best of both worlds – a good film and a very relevant game. You even have in-game advertising which can be seen in many of the Need For Speed series of games. Rockstar also create such believable worlds with their Grand Theft Auto series that there are teams dedicated to creating fictional brands within this universe – they actually extend their own brands within the games and also into the real world. Rusty Brown Ring Donuts is one that always springs to mind.

I’d be interested to hear any other examples you may have experienced perhaps in countries other than the UK.

Safe Online Games For Kids

Online gaming for kids, and tweens have long been thought of as a “danger zone” with many loop holes and vulnerabilities where your child’s information could become fresh for the taking, but a lot has changed in the virtual world of kids games and it’s time you take notice to the great opportunities that exist online today.

With the addition of the United States Federal Trade Commission’s Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act “COPPA”, and the Privo Privacy Assurance Program, children’s online gaming has taken major leaps and bounds towards children safety online. Kids online games are safer than every before and offer unique tools to help educate, interact, and grown in both the virtual and real life worlds we live in.

Two popular games today offer great education experiences as well as being rated amongst the safest online games for kids today. Those games are Dizzywood and Elf Island. Both are relatively new to the online gaming world, but as of recently, are experiencing an increasing number of users and popularity.

Dizzywood is an online adventure where you can play free games, meet new friends, enjoy unique missions, and discover new and exciting locations within Dizzywood. You have the ability to gather coins, which you can use to purchase new clothing, upgrade features or simple collect and share. Dizzywood is for children ages 8-12 and allows your child to express their creativity by creating their own adventures, cooperating with other players, and having fun while they learn.

Elf Island is fast becoming a leader in the “Gaming For Good” category where children can weave real world, nonprofit projects into their virtual Elf Island World. They do so, by entertaining game play, social interaction and story telling which empowers children to bring the Gaming For Good, to the real world. For example, planting trees in Elf Island, causes real living trees to be planted on earth. Building a home in Elf Island, causes real homes to be built in the real world. Kids become inspired by the results and want to continue doing Good Quest. These Good Quests are updated every few weeks and introduce new and exciting challenges that will continue to help our real life environment.

For more information on Dizzywood, and to learn secrets, codes, and detailed walkthroughs of the virtual world, visit Dizzywood Land.

To discover more about Elf Island and stay up-to-date on new adventures, vist Elf Island World.