Mixed-use developments aren’t new: Trajan’s market in Ancient Rome combined shops and apartments on different levels. Mixed-use developments aren't hidden: the Shard and the Burj Khalifa, two of the world’s largest buildings, are prime examples. But mixed-use developments do have a fresh trend: residential-only.
From serviced apartment and Build to Rent (BTR) crossovers to coliving and PBSA collaborations, purely accommodation-focused mixed-use is increasingly common. Different types of residential lets combined in one building diversifies income, maximises occupancies and takes advantage of operational efficiencies. But it used to come with a range of management headaches too. Now, thanks to specialist property management systems (PMS), operators can manage mixed-use assets headache-free. Here’s how.
Providing different offers to different guests
The whole purpose of mixed-use is providing for different tenant types: allowing operators to spread income generation across a range of letting preferences. With a PMS, you can target different guest types at the same time using a channel manager. For example, if you’re targeting students and coliving, you can offer different units at different rates on different sites suited to each target demographic.
You can then offer a bespoke booking process for each tenant. For long-stay tenants, use the PMS integrations to perform a Know Your Customer (KYC) verification check, receive a secure deposit, sign digital contracts and carry out a digital inventory process all before a resident checks in. For short-stay guests, simply use the booking portal to send a carousel of HD photos and take an initial payment to secure a booking.
Managing by exception
Just as a hotel has a higher level of housekeeping standards to your home routine, a 20-unit floor of serviced apartments might require different housekeeping services to a 20-unit floor of BTR apartments. With a PMS, you have operational flexibility to provide a range of services in the same building. For weekly serviced apartment stays, schedule tasks according to guest preferences (i.e. fresh towels every two days) and update cleaners via a remote app.
You can also schedule the same housekeeper to provide a weekly clean of the BTR floor and even offer bespoke housekeeping services to BTR residents. It’s simply a case of setting a checklist, adding updates during the day, and receiving photos of the tidy rooms via an app that facilitates remote management (the same is true for planned and reactive maintenance too).
Running amenities to suit tenants
Residents often choose to stay in mixed-use developments for the shared amenities. Just like traditional retail-office-accommodation mixed-use (i.e. White City’s former BBC Television Centre in London), mixed-use innovative-living typically offers a range of world-class gyms, spas, pools, bars and even restaurants in the same building or nearby.
With a PMS guest app, you can give tenants control over how they use amenities. They use it to register for gym classes, book cinema rooms or set up their own organised events with other guests (i.e. a weekend biking trip for kids). Combined with a CRM, work out what each tenant demographic and resident type enjoys most whilst staying with you (i.e. business travellers in serviced apartments use the gym, while the coliving segment prefer signing up to wellness classes), cater for individual preferences, adapt your operations and generate repeat custom.
Controlling access per resident type
Whether it’s access to shared amenities and communal spaces or keycards for specific floors or private units, keyless access control is your secret weapon in mixed-use residential. Not only is it easier to handle new arrivals - i.e. no need to have a concierge signing in short-stay guests on the first floor with physical keys - but you can also control access for specific areas or times.
If you have families staying in BTR units, for instance, you can control access to the swimming pool after certain times for safety reasons. You could also use keyless access control to regulate who uses amenities - i.e. only long-stay BTR residents can use the TV room after a given time (instead of short-stay serviced apartment guests) - or provide temporary access to a communal space for external events. With a PMS, what could have been a stumbling block for mixed-use is transformed into a benefit.
Automating various payment terms
As any business manager knows, the more products and services you sell, the more difficult the accounting becomes. But that’s not the case with a PMS.
From the outset, you can offer different prices for different types of units, including sliding scales for longer stays. Any in-stay extras from short-stay serviced apartment guests (perhaps they pay to use the BTR-only spa), are instantly added to their invoice by the automated system and then emailed to the customer at the end of their stay.
What’s more, you can set up different payment terms to suit each tenant's preferences. Students might prefer to pay rent each time they receive a maintenance grant. Coliving residents might want to pay monthly or quarterly rent. The flexibility of PMS automated payments enables you to charge by exception, cutting out costly human errors in the process.
Increasing residential crossover
Mixed-use residential is attracting big name developers, operators and investors, such as Grainger, Barings and Packaged Living, with BTR and serviced apartment crossovers one of the most popular combinations.
For example, Mura Living is a mixed-used development (80% BTR, 20% serviced apartments) in Hemel Hempstead, set up by leading serviced apartment operator Viridian Apartments (formerly Flying Butler). Viridian and Mura Living’s CEO, Dominic Sherry, explained the move, stating: “expectations of today’s renters are high and with our 25 years’ experience in residential services, we are well-positioned to deliver a cohesive, quality rental service for both BTR and serviced apartment guests.”
Thanks to the flexibility of all-in-one property management software like res:harmonics, no mixed-use development is off limits (i.e. could even mix student and senior accommodation) and operators can generate mixed-use benefits without the headaches.
Thinking of diversifying your residential assets? Speak to us for advice on how to get started with a flexible PMS.
Download the Ultimate Guide to Coliving Management Software 2023 to learn how property management software supports coliving operators.