Property Management Going Mobile: Mobile Websites and Apps “Must-Haves” Now?

I was out to dinner the other night in Uptown Charlotte and saw the typical 21st century young, urban couple. They were dressed stylishly, moved with grace, were good-looking, and barely talked or looked at each other the entire time I saw them at the restaurant. Were they:

A. In a fight?
B. Shy mutes?
C. Engrossed with their mobile phones?

Of course, and sadly, the most probable answer in today’s world is C. I have a difficult time with this! I want to say, “Buddy, wake up! You’re with a good-looking woman; I can’t believe I have to tell you to look up and talk to her, instead of texting your friend, Chuck! What’s wrong with you?”

So, being a grown man, I had to decide whether to cry about this newer phenomenon or accept it. After some internal wrangling, I’m happy to report that my righteous indignation has passed and I’ve accepted this digitally-inspired apathy towards fellow humans as the “new normal”. So what does this consumer love affair with mobile phones mean to property managers?

It means we better get in the game in the mobile realm. Regular websites have worked really well for a while, but change has come again. New renters are going to want to use their smart phones to search for rentals near them (aided by GPS), fill out rental applications, pay application fees, and put down deposits. They want the whole rental process available from their mobile phones.

What specifically does this mean? It means we better have mobile websites that allow them to do this; the mobile websites need to include only succinct information potential renters would want when on the go. It also means we need a mobile application (a custom company “app”) that customers can put on their devices so we own some real estate on their phones. Trends show that home internet connections are on the way of landline phones; the new battleground is the mobile phone. We need to be on as many as possible.

A mobile website is critical when consumers search for property management companies from their smart phones. Will yours come up? If it does, can consumers easily find rental homes, contact you (even text you!), and do everything you want them to do (like they can when you see them in your office or when they are in front of their home computer?)

An app is critical to sealing the relationship with customers. How can they remember you when they are on their mobile phones? Your app (with your company logo) sitting with the rest of the apps they use everyday is a good start. This is a good way to build mindshare and also to make it easy for your customers to contact you and refer you to their friends. Not an apps believer? Apps are set to be a $36B business by 2015- a lot of people use them and will be using them!

Change is hard, but the mobile revolution is not going away. If making a property management company last long term is the goal, mobile websites and apps are now “must-haves”!

Samsung Galaxy S – Films and Games and More, Oh My!

Samsung has unleashed all it has to challenge the iPhone with the Samsung Galaxy S, and after a hopeful update of Android to the 2.2 operating system, it is easily one of the smartest of smart phones. The new version of Android will give the phone a great bump in class with smother internet browsing and enhanced navigation. It will also provide the Galaxy S a better done pinch and zoom function, allowing even those with the worst of eyesight to read every word on the handset’s massive four inch screen.

The updated Google maps with location navigation will help in refreshing directions from exact locations, due to the internal GPS, and the new version of Flash will help those improved colours to look even more vivid. Not only will the internet and apps look good, but work shot on the HD camera will feel a little more HD when the playback feature is used. Speaking of films, Samsung is rolling out a movies and games package for new users of the Galaxy S that is sure to impress.

Samsung is giving away a bundle worth over £50 and offers at least six games and three movies through their Gameloft and Samsung Movies apps, which give access to thousands of hit movie and game titles. The offer is to run through March 31stand will need to be redeemed by the 30thof April by registering the phone with the original receipt for your pay monthly phone.

Beyond the new media package, there are still the same great features to the Samsung Galaxy S that has made it one of the pinnacle smart phones. The five megapixel camera provides incredible pictures from a mobile phone, coping greatly with poor lighting situations even without a built in flash. The music player provides great sound and new music just a finger tap away with 3G connectivity to download all of the classics. And the battery handles all of the multi-media-ing very well with a using time of up to 6.3 hours and a standby time of 24 hours.

Gadgets and Apps – Welcome to the Future of Travel

Travel’s facelift for the 21st century has been radical and far-reaching. Skype and wifi have replaced the ritual of calling home by feeding endless foreign coins into a phone box, updating your Facebook status is the new postcard, and travellers are increasingly likely to use ‘augmented reality’ rather than have a guidebook tucked under their arm.

If anything, the pace of change continues to quicken – exciting, sometimes mind-boggling innovations are appearing all the time, meaning how we interact with places and people keeps on evolving. Below are some of our favourite gizmos and gadgets.

iLingual

A phrasebook like no other – download the iLingual app, take a photo of your mouth, the app then has over 400 phrases your mouth can ‘say’. Cue the odd sight of travellers holding their iphones in front of their actual mouths as the screen ‘talks’. Watch a video for this app – a demo is better than any written explanation. Only a few languages on offer at the moment, but it can’t be long until iPhone-bearded travellers are pow-wowing in Swahili on the Serengeti savannah.

Word Lens

Very Star Trek this one, another app for those struggling with mastering a foreign language. Word Lens only currently translates English-Spanish, but it’s a neat idea and could be genuinely useful. All you need to do is aim your iPhone camera at some printed text and Word Lens translates it in realtime. You need never struggle over a foreign language newspaper again (or at least not a Spanish language one).

Google goggles

Google goggles may just be the biggest game-changer of all. It’s still in its infancy, but the image recognition software is looking a pretty awesome and versatile travel tool. Here’s how it works: you’re strolling around a city, or a museum or gallery, you take a snap of something you want to know more about it, if Google recognises the subject of the image it will bring up search results. Cue instant expertise and a handy tool for appearing knowledgeable about, well, everything – from sourcing well-reviewed restaurants to enabling you to wax expertly on, say, pre-Incan Peruvian art. In other words, this may be the ultimate dating tool.

World Customs

We always give people who travel with us with plenty of tips and guidance about local cultures and etiquette in foreign countries, so this app is right up our street. Pick your country and then you’ll be presented with a load of helpful info on the destination – from law & order to religious etiquette to taboos. Great for sorting out your do’s from your don’ts.

And a couple of lower-tech gadgets we like…

Solar-powered LED light and water bottle cap

This one looks genuinely good doesn’t it? Mixing water and electricity perhaps isn’t intuitively clever, but the sealing means you’ve got nothing to worry about, and the light is supposed to be decent enough for a tent lantern. The idea of a solar-powered torch may lead cynics to snipe about artificial light being a little redundant if the sun is beating down, but ignore them – this has a good charge, is cheap, light and saves space, and is environmentally intelligent.

The daddy of all Swiss Army Knives

A supercharged multi-tool that looks like it’s on steroids. 87 tools on offer, including – at last! – a golf shoe spike wrench. All that’s missing is a flux capacitor. This one kilo treat fits snugly into your pocket, providing your pocket is 30cm long. A snip at nearly $1000AUD, plus postage, which presumably bumps the final price tag up a bit, not least because the instruction manual must run to a couple hundred pages.