As a property manager, attending a property management conference is an invaluable opportunity to network, learn about industry trends, and discover new technology and solutions. The two-year pause of in-person events caused by the pandemic left many professionals feeling rusty, in need of skilling up and forging new connections.
Going to a conference can be a significant investment. In 2019, the average expenditure per conference attendee was $1,252 (local property manager events and meetups are less costly).
As this year’s property management conference season approaches, we’d like to share how to get the most value out of these conferences.
How to Get the Most Out of a Conference: 4 Tips from Stacie
Stacie Tennyson, Obligo’s senior account executive, is a veteran in the real estate industry. She has attended over 200 property management conferences and served on panels at many of them. Drawing from her insights and experience, she offered four tips on how property managers can make the most out of a conference.
1. Download the conference app
Most property manager conferences now offer technology and tools that help attendees navigate the event with ease and stay engaged. “If the event sponsor has an app, download the app!” Stacie said.
These apps often provide detailed schedules, information on keynote speakers, sessions, and even allow attendees to create personalized agendas. You can pre-schedule meetings with vendors you’re interested in and plan your time at the conference more effectively.
Other features, such as in-app messaging, networking tools, and social media integration, help property managers stay connected and build valuable relationships. These conference-specific apps can empower property managers to optimize their conference experience and gain valuable insights that can help them drive their business forward.
2. Leverage vendors to upgrade your business
Conferences offer an excellent opportunity for property managers to explore the latest solutions and innovations in the industry. By visiting vendor booths, property managers can gain insight into new technologies and services that can help them solve business problems.
It’s important to have a game plan about which vendors you want to talk to. If there are vendors whose products you find particularly interesting, you can set meetings with them beforehand to get dedicated time during the conference to ask questions.
“My advice is to do your research, write down the top five questions that you’re looking to get answered from each vendor, then take those questions to the booths and say, hey, how can you help me?” Stacie said.
Not only could vendors help you solve a problem at hand, but they could also work with you to create a package that attracts new clients down the road. It could be building a resident benefits package, or offering online payments that’s subsidized through the carrier. You could also work with Obligo to create a deposit-free package that improves the resident experience and boosts NOI for the properties, both of which are important to prospective owner clients.
Be open to vendor communication, even if their solution doesn’t address an immediate need — they might know someone who has a product that’s right for you, Stacie said.
“You’re not just networking with one specific vendor,” she said. “Vendors typically have a very large pool of other top-notch companies who can take good care of you, and they would be willing to give you a referral and put their names behind it.”
3. Skill up and earn designations
Conferences offer a variety of educational sessions and workshops that property managers can attend to update their skillset, with topics such as marketing, leasing, and maintenance. You can also take more advanced courses and earn industry-recognized designations like the Certified Property Manager (CPM) or Accredited Residential Manager (ARM). You can find these courses in most conferences, especially large ones like NARPM and NAA.
Earning these designations can help property managers build credibility, better serve their clients and improve their business operations.
“It’s a matter of evaluating where you are and where you want to be in the next 10 to 12 months within your business,” Stacie said. “The designations are not required for you to work in the industry, but it does give you a leg up on competition.”
4. Network and have fun!
Even with all the learning opportunities, don’t forget to have fun — some of the best networking comes from socializing with fellow conference attendees. There are a few tricks that will make it easier for you to bond with your industry peers.
For starters, property managers should try to stay at the conference’s host hotel whenever possible, because that’s where a big portion of the networking will come from. Proximity to other attendees will ensure that you won’t miss out on casual yet informative conversations.
“You’ll have the opportunity to hang out at the bar and mingle with people,” Stacie said. “But if you stay at a hotel that’s not the host hotel, you lose that connection.”
Attending after hour events is another great way to bond with fellow attendees, especially if you’re invited to smaller events with limited capacity. You will have the opportunity to get closer to people and discuss more in-depth topics.
Embrace In-Person Conferences
With the help of these insider tips, attending a property management conference will be a wise investment of your time and resources. Don’t miss out on the opportunity to forge meaningful in-person connections, discover technology that could improve your operations, and stay abreast of new trends in regulations, renter sentiment, marketing strategies, and more.
Not to mention, jetting off to an offsite conference is a great way to get out of your day-to-day routine and experience a new city, which helps increase your productivity and career satisfaction.
In 2023, Obligo will be exhibiting at a number of property management conferences. If you’re attending any of the events below, be sure to come say hi!
– AAGD Annual Trade Show | March 16 | Dallas, TX
– PM Nation | March 19-22 | San Diego, CA
– APARTogether – PAA Trade Show & Education Conference | March 23 | King of Prussia, PA
– Texas Apartment Association One Conference | April 19-21 | Fort Worth, TX
– NARPM 2023 Broker/Owner Conference | April 25-27 | Carlsbad, CA
– NAA Apartmentalize | June 7-9 | Atlanta, GA
– Appfolio User Conference | September 19-21, Santa Barbara, CA
– NARPM Virgina State Conference | September 25-26, Richmond, VA
– PTN Reunion | October 15-17, Denver, CO
– NARPM Annual Convention & Trade Show | October 16-19 | Atlanta, GA
– Money 20/20 | October 22-25 | Las Vegas, NV
– NMHC OpTech | November 1-3 | Las Vegas, NV
Contact us at [email protected] if you’d like to schedule a meeting!