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Self-Guided Tours, QR Codes, and Access Control: The Trifecta of Pandemic Leasing

Lucas Haldeman

CEO, SmartRent

When the world came to an abrupt halt in March 2020, the need for housing did not. Apartment operators and residential home builders needed new ways to conduct property tours when in-person leasing and sales practices were no longer an option. Self-guided tours were gaining steam before the pandemic, but quickly became critical to business operations.

Scottsdale-based SmartRent, a provider of smart home automation solutions, recognized the urgent need to empower apartment operators and home builders with self-guided tour technologies that offered safe and secure touring options to prospects. However, SmartRent was not immune to the limitations caused by pandemic lockdowns and social distancing protocols — the PropTech provider could no longer actively complete installations due to travel restrictions and installers not being able to enter units. 

Finding proactive solutions

While some organizations may have taken the “wait until things calm down” approach, SmartRent went full tilt into finding ways to help clients and their customers. The company optimized its self-guided tour solution and installation processes to create a comprehensive self-install, self-guided tour kit for clients. Each kit was customized based on client needs and included hardware and installation instructions. Kits were packaged and shipped to properties within 24 hours of a contract so they could get up and running as soon as possible, limiting the pandemic’s impact on businesses. 

Once kits were received at the property, SmartRent clients were able to quickly and easily launch the plug and implement a self-guided tour solution. SmartRent offered full online support to help teams through any installation challenges or activation hurdles.

Prioritizing client convenience

Self-guided tours enable prospects to complete a tour when it’s convenient for them. They can schedule a tour online or immediately through SmartRent’s “Tour Now” option, which leverages QR code technology on-site. SmartRent’s solution includes a thorough phone and ID verification process before a self-guided tour is confirmed.


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Tours are customized through tour-specific access codes and a series of smart perimeter gates and unit door locks to ensure that visitors only access authorized areas of the community.

Working toward a better, safer solution

SmartRent remained steadfast in its commitment to serving clients responsibly during COVID-19. Continued and collaborative engagement with clients helped SmartRent gain a better understanding how to further improve the self-guided tour process. Between April and September of 2020, SmartRent launched several significant enhancements to its self-guided tour solution to meet clients’ evolving needs during this challenging landscape. They implemented:

  • Tour buffer times in between showings to allow for proper sanitization routines to be completed.
  • Mobile pass app compatibility, which eliminated the need to physically enter pin codes on the locks and created an even more contactless experience.
  • Smart lockboxes for common area access to ensure onsite staff could maintain social distancing or so teams could continue to work from home.
  • A 100% contactless process with 24/7 access to online support.
  • Interactive mapping functionality to help prospects with routing and wayfinding.

Over the course of 2020, SmartRent’s self-guided tour clients quadrupled, enabling more than 200,000 self-guided tours, 30 percent of which were “Tour Now.” One SmartRent home builder averaged 24 tours per month and realized a 103.4 percent return on investment. 

The pandemic and resulting lockdowns were extremely challenging, but it didn’t stop some from achieving the dream of owning a home or finding a new apartment. SmartRent’s ability to recognize a need, innovate ways to help, and continue to collaborate with its clients resulted in a safe, comfortable, and easy way for prospective buyers and renters to complete an in-person home tour.

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