Your property is stabilized so it’s time to sit back, relax, and enjoy the success of your marketing plans and leasing strategy, right?

Not so fast – Yes, having a full house is great – and a testament to all the hard work the team has put in. However, if you spend too much time resting, you may find that occupancy will dip. So, how can you keep your property full and happy? Community engagement.

When you ask yourself what is community engagement, what do you think of it? To us, it means keeping your current residents happy. It means making sure your residents love where they live, and that you help them get to know their neighbors and have fun living in your community. Resident engagement is the best way to influence this controllable aspect.

Now, it’s not always in the teams’ control why residents do not stay at your property. Sometimes residents leave to buy a house, move out of state, or some other life change. Resident experience, however, IS an area on-site teams can influence.

Before planning any sort of resident engagement event, it’s important to consider your resident demographics, the size of the property, and the asset class. Is this a luxury high rise in downtown Chicago, or an affordable property in a rural setting? Investing in community engagement will help keep your occupancy levels stabilized.

Here are 3 examples of community engagement activities that will help you get started.

1. Focus on the Food

The way to a resident’s heart can be through their stomach. Particularly if your resident demographic is on the younger side or they don’t like to cook at home as much. Food tends to get people out and interacting. That’s why, in terms of community engagement ideas, food-related activities take the top of the list. Here are a few ideas to consider.

If the property can accommodate, host a cooking class for residents. If you have a demo kitchen available, an outdoor grilling area, or other space where people can gather, it’s a great option for engagement and, of course, some good food.
Another resident event to consider is a wine tasting and education of different wines, beers, liquors, or even something like different kombuchas.

Either of these options will not only provide opportunities for residents to meet and have some fun, but they’ll also learn a new skill. You could even provide this as a virtual option. Cooking demonstrations and different tastings can easily be pivoted to a virtual environment.

Any of these food or beverage-centered community engagement ideas will bring some laughs and camaraderie to your residents.

2. Seasonal Activities

As the year progresses, there are always different holidays being celebrated. Bringing together residents to celebrate those holidays is a great community engagement idea.

Remember, when you’re planning these activities, to think outside the US-based holiday box. This is a great opportunity to highlight holidays that aren’t quite so mainstream here. If you have international residents or a broader religious and ethnic demographic, pay attention to what holidays they may celebrate. This is an opportunity to be inclusive and provide education about that holiday to other residents who may not be familiar. Yes, pumpkin carving and or Fourth of July fireworks are great. But, expanding celebrations to other cultural holidays, like Diwali or Día de los Muertos, can and should be a part of the community engagement plan.

3. Movement-based Activities

Many people are looking for ways to incorporate more movement into their day-to-day lives. Planning movement-based community engagement activities will not only do that but also provide an opportunity for residents to get together socially. Now, the type of activity will depend on the amenities of your building and the market you’re in.

If you have younger residents who enjoy outdoor activities and enough green space, set up some cornhole or try to organize a recreational volleyball team or softball team within the community. Walking or running groups, free dance or yoga classes, or even guided meditations can help your residents meet fitness goals. In addition, it helps residents meet each other and help it feel more at home in the community. These are examples of community engagement activities that will bring people together in an easy and fun way.

Bonus – Online Communities

Consider investing in building an online community engagement platform. This can be around a social media platform that already exists or you can invest in something custom. This type of centralized location can allow residents to see information about any of the above community engagement events, and also recap videos of previous events to entice attendance. It can also be a place for regular communication about construction, property updates or new staff members.

One of the best things you can do to improve the bottom line at your apartment is to keep your community, your current residents, happy and engaged. These community engagement ideas are a great jump start, but you need to plan activities that are personalized to the resident demographic and asset type of your property. If you’re still not sure, come up with some ideas based on our suggestions and run them by a few of your longer-term residents. They want to see the property be successful and a happy place to live as well.

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