From short-stay serviced apartment rentals to long-stay BTR tenancies, the world of innovative living is constantly adapting to customer trends. Over the past 12 months, the coliving industry has used PropTech to expand into regional cities. Serviced apartments have embraced digital transformation, such as self-check-in and keyless access. The growing BTR sector has adopted virtual viewing tech to attract residents.
Powered by next-level software, the innovative living industry will make even greater strides next year. Here are five software trends we expect to gather pace.
- Software to become as important as hardware in properties
Rental luxury used to be judged on its hardware. But with more tech-savvy consumers and the development of innovative PropTech solutions, software is rising in importance. Property management systems are already the bedrock of operators’ operations - from driving cost-saving efficiencies to providing impeccable customer experience - but in 2024, software will become increasingly prevalent in buildings and units themselves.
In 2024, digital keys will continue replacing physical keys as the most common access solution (27% of serviced apartment operators already use them). Buildings will become ‘smarter’ with automated thermostats and water-saving systems emerging in individual units. Physical management tech (i.e. CCTV) will integrate with operators’ property management tech across portfolios. Given that during the 2023 Coliving Conference, Sofia CEO Alessandro Nacci, in conversation with our CEO Giles Horwitch-Smith, called on operators to ‘replace the hardware with something that can be used in a browser or a mobile application,’ expect more software investments in the next year.
- The emergence of sustainable tech ecosystems
From energy-efficient buildings to eco-conscious guests, sustainability now perforates every strata of innovative living. In 2023, operators increased their ESG efforts in myriad ways - i.e. offering more sustainable operations, sharing ESG toolkits with guests, and initiating activities to offset carbon emissions. Next year, this will become easier through merging sustainable tech and management systems.
The likes of sensor-based lighting and low-flow water add-ons for toilets all help reduce energy waste, but the saving is amplified when integrated with management tech. For example, with a dashboard view of how much water and/or energy the average two-bedroom unit makes each day, you not only have oversight of each building's sustainability, but can roll-out positive environmental policies across your portfolio (i.e. enable guests to offset their expected carbon emissions at the time of booking).
- Less rigid definitions of innovative living assets
Before, there were hotels, hostels and serviced apartments. Then, there were aparthotels, coliving and BTR. Now, there are multiple mixed assets options in one building, such as Mura Living’s BTR-serviced apartment crossover or Noli Studios offering long-stay coliving and short-stay apartment rental.
This blurring of traditional lines is also happening with demographics and geographies. Coliving, for example, was seen as the preserve of graduates and young professionals, but guests aged 40+ account for 12% of residents at The Collective and 35% of Dandi’s Wembley development are expats. Serviced apartments were seen as a city centre alternative to hotels, but the rise of remote working sees serviced apartments popping up in rural, coastal and mountainous areas too. Thanks to tech developments, innovative living operators can manage multiple units in multiple locations remotely and by exception, so expect the emergence of new models in 2024 and beyond.
- Wider use of customer-facing AI and VR/AR applications
In 2023, the innovative living industry got to grips with innovative customer-facing technologies. In BTR, for instance, VR-enabled 360° viewings provided guests with 24/7 ‘walk-through tours’ of buildings, apartments and amenities - all without managers needing to lift a finger. With 46% of global workers expected to travel for business in 2024, the roll-out of this technology (alongside the likes of Augmented Reality digital inventory processes) will widen operators’ target market and increase international bookings.
What’s more, AI chatbots and virtual assistants will enhance the search and booking process, and connect operators with more qualified tenants. For example, instead of scrolling OTA websites with specific search criteria, AI chatbots will help guests find what they're looking for by typing in: ‘one bedroom pet-friendly apartment, 15 minutes walk from the train station’ (AI chatbots are even expected to enable vocal search too). With large OTAs like Expedia and Booking.com (who launched an AI trip planner in 2023) differentiating their services, expect the chatbot revolution to come sooner rather than later.
- Extended stay to rival private rental sector
With more hybrid workers comes a greater desire for flexible living arrangements in properties well-equipped for home-working. As such, extended stay coliving, BTR and serviced apartments are becoming a direct rival to the long-term private rental sector (PRS).
Extended stay innovative living provides far greater flexibility than traditional renting thanks to the PropTech software that powers it. For instance, a serviced apartment property management system enables operators to offer any unit in its portfolio as long-stay or short-stay. A BTR-focused PMS takes guests through a specific long-stay booking journey (i.e. more KYC, verification checks and inventories) than a simple click and book for short-stay. A coliving-focused PMS provides a sliding price scale with weekly rates falling the longer you stay. With more technology innovations on the way, expect extended stay to rise in popularity over the next year.
PropTech in 2024
From attracting long stay bookings and international guests to enabling more sustainable and flexible management, PropTech software is powering the innovative living industry. Sign up to our monthly newsletter to stay in the loop of all things innovative living in 2024 and download our latest whitepapers for everything you need to know about Serviced Apartment Management Software and Coliving Management Software.