A Place for Mom, a senior living referral service, recently developed and then beta tested a virtual tour app in the past 30 days. This app is supposed to help communities to address pain points that have shown up since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic. This information is, according to Larry Kutscher, the CEO of A Place for Mom.
Whether or not senior living communities happen to use the APFM app, they need to get prepared for how people will use these virtual tours in the next few months and even years.
The quick way that this app got made shows just how quick Covid-19 changed how senior living has start marketing and making sales.
Kutscher stated, “If I go to many communities in January and say, hey, let’s start a virtual tour, I think the feedback will be that families don’t have to use it. ”
Covid-19 forced senior life providers and consumers to adapt because the infection control guidelines shut down the building and banned unnecessary visitors. Today, virtual tours are the solution of choice for evolving sales and marketing processes.
The good news is that the senior life team is seeing virtual travel as useful, but the rapid shift to virtual work has also brought new problems, Kutscher explained.
In particular, APFM hears “clear voice” from homes, and different senior residential communities require them to use various platforms for virtual tours, including Zoom and FaceTime. Kutscher said this had caused confusion and frustration, especially for consumers who do not understand technology.
He said: “This is a good way to solve technical problems and chaos.”
The APFM application design is to help by providing a platform. The community and consumers download the application to their iOS or Android device, click the link or enter the code during the planned tour time, and place it in the virtual environment.
After the tour, consumers will receive three questions related to their experience. Kutscher believes that APFM will be able to use these questions to determine the reasons for the success of the tour. The goal is to create a playbook of virtual tourism best practices. Kutscher has shared some essential tips:
Make sure to follow a simple script
Keep the tour interactive; listen to family members and answer questions like in a face-to-face trip
It may not be necessary to show the entire building; the purpose should be “to make the family feel comfortable.”
The application has been beta-tested on the West Coast and has been used by about 300 communities so far. APFM is preparing to launch its 15,000 community networks nationwide and is also developing a “2.0” version to simplify travel planning and other functions. The application only provides potential customers with convenient access through the APFM system, and the community that cooperates with A Place for Mom is free to use.
As the new Covid-19 infection rate is flattening nationwide, the hope is that in the coming months, the restrictions on visitors will ease. However, Kutscher believes that virtual travel will continue to exist, and the industry should prepare for various ways consumers use virtual travel in the future.
For example, even after allowing tourists to return to a high-end residential community, families may still feel uneasy.
“Let’s say that after one year when Covid has not been eradicated but still under control, they may say that I don’t want to visit every community I’m considering, but I will visit a community,” Kutscher Say. In this case, they may conduct a virtual tour to determine their main competitors.
Similarly, even if the restrictions are alleviated, while the virus is still active, families may try to avoid traveling by air for some time. Virtual tours are a way for people all over the country to see a community at the same time.
Kutscher said: “At present, participating in the competition with Covid does not participate in the actual tour, we are very excited about this, but we think this is also a long-term attempt.”
The development of the app is just an investment that APFM has made since the establishment of Covid-19-the company has also launched a new advertising campaign, is regularly investigating its senior customers, and has created a new website homepage. After testing, and is engaged in other back-end and technology projects. The company has reduced some expenditures from the plan, but despite Covid-19’s drop in referrals, it is still investing in “millions.”
But Kutscher believes these investments are essential to the strategy he developed when he took control of APFM last year. He focuses on upgrading the company’s products while trying to rebuild trust among senior life service providers. At this moment, APFM has the opportunity to become a valuable partner in cash-scarce communities, and even if they need every opportunity for referrals and moves in, they cannot use all their resources for sales and marketing, he said.
He observed: “April is not fun for anyone,” APFM certainly does. Kutscher estimates that Covid-19 hit as APFM was staffing a new operations center in Kansas, Kansas. They work from home now, and APFM will not be able to hire again until at least after the fall.
Kutscher is optimistic that with the control of Covid-19, the demand for the elderly will surge again. However, he also pointed out that current concerns about personal safety are not the only reason for consumers to shrink. APFM conducted a survey of families using the service last month and found that they were worried about losing contact with relatives who moved to a high-end residential community.
He said: “Families worry about the safety of their loved ones, but they also worry about not being able to visit them and worry about not helping them move.” “I think, as an industry, we need to focus on this: how do people stay in touch as people move in?”
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