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”!

All Your Favourite Car Games, and New Ones, Too

Satisfy your need for speed playing all your favourite car racing games in a virtual environment.

Devoted gamers believe that Steve Jobs invented the computer mouse so that computerized car racing games would become both easier and more exciting. Once the mouse empowered a user to turn the cursor at oblique angles and trace curves, the horizons of virtual car racing stretched all the way out to the end of the infinite…and beyond. Simple as they are, car racing games remain among the most popular both on the internet and on handheld wireless applications. Those same devoted gamers believe Steve Jobs invented the iPhone’s motion sensor strictly for the sake of improving car racing apps.

You probably know that car games are deceptively simple: Follow the race course going as fast as you possibly can. How hard can that be? You’ve been following the same basic principles since you played car racing games on your old Commodore 64 system. Except that now, with the advent of 3D and a few other high-tech complications, game developers can bank the turns, create more dramatic spin-outs, and make the steering both more demanding and more precise.

Build your skills with “Dune Buggy.”
You may have been the Jimmie Johnson of your game console circuit, but playing car games with your computer requires adapting your skills; instead of a joy stick and a couple of buttons, you have your mouse or touchpad, your arrow keys, and your space bar. Online car games require their own unique set of skills and multi-tasks. Expect to crash spectacularly and burn in great balls of fire your first few times around the track. Of course, everybody knows “the fails” are as much fun as the great races.

Try “Dune Buggy,” one of the most popular entry-level car games at the internet’s most popular virtual arcades. “Dune Buggy” teaches you to move with the arrow keys and jump with the space bar, challenging you to navigate over, under, around, and through a variety of jumps, dips, and obstacles as you make your way through an off-road race course. Purely a game of speed and dexterity, “Dune Buggy” gets you in shape for more sophisticated car games, and you will know you are prepared for greater challenges when the trustworthy old buggy grows tiresome.

Advance to “FMX Team.”

Okay, strictly speaking, it is not a “car” game, but it counts among the leaders in the larger genre of driving games. FMX Team tests just how well you can manoeuvre those arrow keys and the space bar as you take your motorcycle through a series of tricky motorcycle stunts. The screen shows you the dirt track; a box in the screen’s upper left corner shows your stunts. You may choose among three different bikes, each equipped for different performance characteristics. As you get more comfortable with the game, you naturally will select the bike best suited to your style and level. FMX Team takes you through fifteen progressively more difficult levels; and, by the time you reach level 15, your fingers will fly around your keys so fast your friends will see just a flesh-tone blur.

Games and Brand Extension – Do They Click?

For this article I wanted to look into the way that traditional games and gaming elements have been used to enter the mainstream space from a business standpoint to either incentivise consumers or engage them on a different level.

Games are primarily an entertainment medium, but that hasn’t stopped companies from having games developed to reach a different demographic than perhaps represents their core market. An ad campaign may run for 2 weeks, 4 weeks or 2 months but branding within a game can have a much longer shelf life. The most common example of brand extension within the gaming arena focuses on movie tie-ins. Many Disney/Pixar films release a game based on the film around the same date. It helps consumers engage with the film on a deeper level and get to know the characters and brand better making it ultimately more likely that additional purchases of merchandise or DVDs are made. The main issue with game tie-ins however is often they are rushed to coincide with the film release and most end up being fairly average titles. The sheer fact that the majority are aimed at a very young audience means though that children tend not to worry too much about this and just enjoy controlling the characters.

Looking at something completely different from an engagement aspect. Papa John’s pizza in the UK released a mobile gaming app which had you deal with pizza orders and create pizzas as perfectly and speedily as possible. App was priced at 69p with the hook being if you reached a certain score then you could earn a free pizza. It was a well made game and was quite a fun stand alone game as well as being challenging in the later levels. The only disappointing part was upon reaching your free pizza it was for collection only which limited me somewhat but was still a good prize.

Weight Watchers UK campaign last year focused on treating weight loss like a game thanks to the point system that was in use. It was an interesting take on things but it wasn’t continued for the 2013 marketing campaign. Arguably, despite the fresh take on losing weight, it didn’t engage the largely female audience of its membership base as even now, females are still in the minority when it comes to enjoying games. It perhaps didn’t resonate as strongly as it should have.

When there is a natural gaming tie-in that fits organically such as in Wreck-It-Ralph you get the best of both worlds – a good film and a very relevant game. You even have in-game advertising which can be seen in many of the Need For Speed series of games. Rockstar also create such believable worlds with their Grand Theft Auto series that there are teams dedicated to creating fictional brands within this universe – they actually extend their own brands within the games and also into the real world. Rusty Brown Ring Donuts is one that always springs to mind.

I’d be interested to hear any other examples you may have experienced perhaps in countries other than the UK.