Takeaways from Apartmentalize ATL 2023

By Chris Arnold
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NAA Apartmentalize Atlanta Recap

With the 2023 edition of Apartmentalize wrapped, I asked many attendees what they observed – and walked away with – from this year’s event.

This morning I want to recap various themes some of our brightest colleagues in the industry passed along.

Huge thanks to those that shared their experiences!

Dom Beveridge - Proptech Expert and Publisher

Theme: AI Vendor Growth

shared that the most significant thing he sees is that AI is changing dramatically from one conference to the next in the form of new vendors, products, and ideas. And that some companies are thinking big.

He’s noticing a growing expectation that technology solutions should include AI where appropriate, and some of the more experienced operators/technology buyers seem to be establishing a firm view of the kinds of work that AI should be doing in technology.

In a light-hearted footnote, Dom noted that “literally everything I just said” will be obsolete by the end of the summer. Things continue to move at light speed on the AI side of the industry.

Marshall Friday - Senior Director of Multifamily Sales (ADT)

Theme: Consolidation

Marshall’s most significant takeaway was that, as he sees it, consolidation seems to be a buzzword this year.

Despite many pro-technology advocates across the industry, at the same time, he sees that most “are not excited about 57 new dashboards.”

As we’re observing the most prominent management companies gain more units at a high level, those same management companies are looking for single sources of truth.

Will multifamily tech continue to head in that direction in the coming 12-18 months? What do you think?

Mike Wolber - CRO at Rent Dynamics

Theme: Consolidation, Onsite Support, Personal Brands

Mike’s also seeing consolidation heat up.

He mentioned that we typically talk about consolidation on the tech side with large software companies buying smaller ones, but recently, multiple PMC's announced mergers - some loudly and some a bit more quietly.

For example, RPM and PMG, and MEB and Weller. He sees an interesting trend in hearing operators speaking to (and acting on) growth through acquiring other management companies.

Culture, retention, resident experience, and how to best support on-site teams were another big cluster in his eyes. Centralization is a common buzzword, but at this year’s event, he was seeing it discussed more through the lens of onsite team enablement and freeing up bandwidth to focus on things that are high impact.

Finally, a note on personal branding from one of the best!

Mike observed meeting people for the first time that he’d only known from his LinkedIn content efforts. Many new introductions, handshakes, and in-person network growth. He mentioned its clear impact on the business on the vendor side but also for those putting in the effort on the operations side who have invested in their personal brands.

Trevor Park - VP of Marketing at Rent Dynamics

Theme: Content Development, AI

Trevor kept things short and sweet with his recap between the vendor and operator sides.

In his eyes, the supplier side will continue to win with great content and curated sessions - sometimes tied back to booths during events like this one from NAA.

On the operator side, AI came up again as a theme.

Clearly, advances in AI and automation (like financial tools) for both renters and operators are becoming a core topic cluster, often linked with centralization.

Bobbi Steward - Founder at Revyse

Theme: Vendor Selection and Partnerships

Bobbi brings a unique perspective to the industry, having been a part of an organization that represents each corner of the industry: from tech to the renter to the operator. When Bobbi is responding to something or taking in observations, I always want to hear what she’s thinking!

In her eyes, ownership groups were shopping the floor and taking a more proactive approach to the vendor selection process this year.

She noticed a lot of energy and a fresh buzz around partnerships, such as vendors coming together to launch co-branded products.

In general, she’s seeing excitement in the industry like never before.

Jennifer Carter - Customer Advocacy Manager (HappyCo)

Theme: Startups, Consolidation, Collaboration

Jennifer is always working her way around the floor and can offer a 360 view of the pulse amongst the multifamily vendor pool.

She mentioned seeing a larger group of vendors sharing their products overall, with many attempting to leverage AI and ChatGPT in ways that aim to impact everyday workflow for the better.

Like others, she also observed a key theme around optimizing operations across the spectrum: management teams, onsite teams, and corporate office teams. Working more efficiently and enhancing productivity was top of mind across the board.

Finally, she observed a “warm-hearted common theme” around the amount of collaboration between property management teams and vendors.

She felt the event this year illuminated the direction the industry is moving towards in terms of a collective ecosystem with common goals, all aiming to move in the same direction for the same reason.

Closing Thoughts

From these and other observations over the last week, I caught a few takeaways in summation that I’m keeping in mind:

AI, ChatGPT, and Visualization tools are here to stay. These will be less about replacing a swath of jobs and instead about positioning new and existing products and services more efficiently.

Centralization will continue to be a hot theme yesterday, today, and next year! It means something different to different people groups, but the north star is that it aims to help everyone do their jobs with more efficacy.

New vendors aim to navigate the multifamily waters, bringing a fresh wave of energy into the space. But, who will bring beneficial tech, and who will wash out by next summer?

Personal brands matter, and if the last year is any indication, a commitment to that space will continue to impact personal and professional relationships.

Were you there? Anything else to add or note?

Let me know! Reply to this thread or shoot me an email.

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