Senior living communities have limited capacity, which means they have waitlists. For community directors, it often is difficult to engage waitlisted residents in a meaningful way before they move in. That’s a problem, because a lack of communication during that period can make the eventual transition feel more overwhelming.

And when it comes to prospects, generating interest from a website lead can be equally as challenging. Lead-to-tour conversion rates, according to a survey reported by McKnight’s Senior Living, hover around just 30% for most senior living and care marketers. 

The good news is that technology has the potential to improve both issues. Now that the COVID-19 pandemic has put a temporary hold on tours and visits in many areas, tech solutions can give prospective residents a real feel for a community even when they aren’t able to see it in person.

Digital engagement platforms and voice technology, which are rolling out at more and more senior living communities across the country, can drive lead conversions and help future residents feel more connected to the community before they move in. Here’s how.

Digital engagement platforms offer an authentic glance at community life

Most prospective residents rely on two things when choosing a senior living community: community tours and marketing materials. Both can offer valuable insights, but they can’t provide a thorough sense of what life in that community is like – for instance:

  • How many different kinds of fitness activity offerings are there in a day? 
  • How does the menu change from night to night? 
  • What are the social events like?

A community that has a digital engagement platform, on the other hand, can make its calendars, programming and community news accessible to prospective residents. Potential residents can see everything that’s going on in the community in real time on the resident portal, as opposed to a static website that might not get updated.

A digital platform also can make it easier for senior living marketers to leverage community lifestyle in the sales process and make their community stand out. Because of that capability, this tool can be immensely helpful in a prospective resident’s decision-making process.

Tech lets waitlisted residents make connections before they move in 

For residents who have accepted a position on a waitlist, the waiting period can feel detached. The transition into senior living is a big social change – traditionally, residents haven’t been able to start meeting other residents until they move in. And being unable to visit a community due to COVID-19 only makes this sense of isolation worse.

An added benefit of a digital engagement platform is that it allows waitlisted residents to engage with current residents before move-in. For instance, a social network feature can connect waitlist members to residents with common interests.

One community in Michigan already has seen promising results in increasing conversion rates with the use of tech. Friendship Village Senior Living in Kalamazoo, MI, recently rolled out the Caremerge Community Engagement platform, which includes a web, iOS and Android app, along with voice capabilities for residents.

Diana Duncan, director of sales and marketing at Friendship Village, says that waitlisted residents can use the technology to make friends with current residents beforehand, and those current residents can support the waitlisted ones during their eventual transition. What’s more, these new residents start building memories and having experiences before they move in.

Without tech to facilitate these connections, there typically is no way for current and waitlisted residents to meet beyond tours and personal acquaintances. Especially during this period of social distancing, tech can nurture better social well-being for everyone through virtual connection, both within and outside of a community.

Tech enables senior living professionals to differentiate their communities

As the adult population ages, an estimated two million Americans will live in senior living and care communities by 2030. That’s twice the 2016 total, meaning the senior living market will grow more competitive each year. 

Because of this expected growth, the mounting challenge for senior living professionals is to differentiate their communities to engage both waitlisted residents and leads.

Technology solutions such as resident engagement platforms create a virtuous circle: They let adopters stay one step ahead of the competition and make the transition into senior living feel less isolating and more like a welcoming, ongoing orientation. This, in turn, drives more conversions, leads to happier residents and makes it easier to attract future residents – a win for everyone involved.