Planning Resident Events and Getting the Most Attendance

Resident events are a way to develop a sense of community and to help maintain resident retention. Many communities are upping their game with their events in order to retain their residents, especially in bigger cities or more competitive markets. But even the flashiest events will not result in measurable success if the planning stages are not done properly.

I recommend that each quarter, your entire staff have an events planning meeting for the coming quarter. Close the office and turn off all interruptions.

Coming up with event ideas can seem tough. Here are some ideas to get the ideas going during your events planning meeting.

  • Resident surveys: Ask your residents what events they would like to have. You’d be surprised with the untapped creativity that is out there in your community. Discuss all ideas during your meeting.
  • Instagram: Follow other apartment communities, hashtags that are relevant, party and event planners. Anytime you find a new photo or an event you like on Instagram, note the hashtags and follow any additional that might help you find more ideas later. Watch Instagram stories of other apartment communities as well as looking at their feeds.
  • National holiday calendar: Use a national holiday calendar to look at upcoming fun holidays that you can plan events around. https://nationaltoday.com/national-day-calendar/
  • Sprout Marketing: Sprout Marketing is an apartment industry related company with invaluable monthly event calendars with most of the planning done for you. They include social media and printable graphics as well. https://watchyourbusinesssprout.com
  • Pinterest: Make a Pinterest board of any ideas that you are thinking about as an event and come back to them later. Browse other Pinterest boards related to events for more inspiration.

Next is the planning stage of the events. I recommend calendar planning each event as far out as quarterly but only focusing on the details of the events that are approximately 4-6 weeks away. Developing an event planning worksheet will help with the planning and would include the budget, items needed, important dates, etc. Here are other ideas for successful event planning:

  • Use a project management tool like Asana or Slack to help keep track of multiple job responsibilities and deadlines.
  • Use grocery delivery services like Shipt for same day delivery to avoid errands on event day.
  • Purchase all items possible on Amazon. Plan for any delivery delays and production time.
  • Plan for at least $1.50 per unit for your event. Of course, you will have your own budget, but this is a good estimate when planning.
  • Plan your promotions:
    • Facebook event-sized flyer: Make sure you post your event to your Facebook page as an event. Facebook event cover photos must be a special size (1920 x 1080) in order to display correctly.
    • Social Media: Social media posts should be made regarding your event well in advance as well as the day before and the day of the event. Don’t forget to post to Facebook, Facebook stories, Instagram and Instagram stories. These will be 2 different sizes: 1080 x 1080 for social media posts and 1080 x 1920 for stories posts.
    • Print flyers: Have printed materials ready to place on resident’s doors. Door hangers are also a great idea. Another fantastic idea that is sure to get someone’s attention is to MAIL each resident an invitation. There are also services online like Punkpost that will hand-address envelopes to make them stand out more for you.
    • Newsletter: Make sure your monthly newsletter is utilizing a monthly calendar option and includes all of the month’s events.

Now that you have planned your event, it is time to ensure that you have en excellent turnout! Here are some ideas to help you increase resident attendance at events:

  • Modern Message: Modern Message helps apartment communities become more connected with their residents through an app called Community Rewards. You can earn rewards towards gift cards for attending events. https://modernmsg.com
  • Incentivize residents to bring a guest: Let your residents brag about where they live by bringing a friend to events. Have a drawing during events for people who brought a guest.
  • Promo items: Everyone loves to walk away with a goodie bag. If your budget doesn’t allow for a swag bag at every event, ask your vendors or local establishments for donations.
  • Not just food, GOOD food: While food usually draws a crowd, it isn’t as popular as it used to be. People want local food, food trucks or other unique restaurants in order to get them away from their streaming televisions.
  • Piggyback events: If there is another event going on locally or nationally, don’t try to compete with it. Try to either have an after-event (after-concert) or a pre-game (tailgating) event.
  • Pivot to video: Don’t underestimate the value of Instagram stories. More and more people are watching video now than ever. Create exciting videos on Instagram highlighting your event and then they are sharable across all platforms! Don’t forget to use things like countdown timers, music, polls, etc.
  • Use outdoor signage: Residents become slightly immune to all of the flyers on their doors and in their emails. Use signage around your property for events. Bandit signs can be created very cheaply and reused if you only use a day of the week on them instead of a full date. Make sure they are out by the first of the month when residents are coming in to pay rent. Also, anyone who drops off rent, make sure to ask them if you’ll see them at the event.
  • Text reminders: Use your pre-created digital graphics to text your residents the day before and the day of your event. 98% of text messages are opened!