On November 8, 2021, the Rhino team headed to OPTECH 2021 to talk to attending industry thought leaders, technology evangelists, and, of course, property owners about the rental market’s rapid digital transformation. OPTECH 2021 is hosted by The National Multifamily Housing Council, and has always had an emphasis on innovation in the multifamily industry. 

As a content manager for Rhino, it was so exciting to watch our sales team in action and learn more about how they pitch our product. Our team connected with hundreds of CEOs, CTOs, CIOs, VPs, and more executive leaders all interested in rolling out the best of the best tech, including Rhino, to ensure continuous success for their multifamily investments and communities. 

There was a buzz of excitement in the Expo Hall as OPTECH returned from its hiatus to a completely different real estate and rental landscape. As NMHC President Doug Bibby said during his opening address, the multifamily industry has completed ten years of tech advancement and roll-out in just one year to survive COVID-19. Conference sessions mostly covered new resident-facing tech and amenities, but also technology for transforming internal processes and increasing data collection.

An image of two Rhino employees, Rachel Allen, and Eric Krauss talking to a booth visitor at OpTech 2021

It became very clear to me during this two-day conference that the contemporary multifamily property owner and operator needs to rapidly adopt more technology to retain renters and sustain their teams in a post-vaccine world. 

Top three multifamily industry trends from OPTECH 2021

1. Increased renter data collection and tech adoption in 2020

The modern renter is becoming less of an enigma, thanks to advanced data collection and increased tech adoption, as the industry could no longer operate in a hybrid digital and in-person environment in 2020. Fully autonomous and virtual leasing, including AI-powered leasing assistants and chatbots, has enabled leasing teams to introduce more consumer touchpoints, which gives us a deeper understanding of how renters think and what prospective renters want from their future home. Leasing teams have used self-service and virtual leasing to generate new leads, sign more leases, and revitalize marketing. 

An image of Rhino employees David Berardi and Michael Brevdah talking with a visitor to the Rhino booth at Optech 2021

As virtual leasing becomes more permanent, industry leaders spoke largely about methods to organize the increased amount of data collected, and how to use this data to improve the renter experience as well as reduce administrative burden. 

Multifamily leaders also feel an increased need to adopt innovative tech to transform outdated internal processes, now more than ever before. After all, leasing teams need to become more data-minded to support virtual leasing, and focus less on menial tasks, such as collecting security deposits or mining for prospects without digital assistance. Enter Rhino, an insurtech that reduces the backend burden that security deposits create, and appeals to the modern renter at the same time.

As Area Vice President Eric Krauss said, “I had two conversations with major enterprise property owners that really stood out to me. Both were really against deposit alternatives from past experiences. After a quick pitch and conversation about rapid tech adoption, both are open to having a conversation about Rhino in Q1. Both realized after our conversation, how different Rhino really is, from other options.” 

An image of Area Vice President Eric Krauss presenting at Optech

Eric outlined the unique surety bond model of Rhino’s security deposit insurance, during Rhino’s opening pitch on day one of OPTECH 2021. Rhino is now available in 1.6 million homes across America, and has saved renters over $500 million across the nation. 

After the end of the conference, Strategic Partnerships Manager Dave Berardi also remarked on how many major decision makers came by Rhino’s booth in the expo hall, recognizing security deposit insurance as tech that is integral to the future of leasing. 

An image of Dave Berardi chatting with a visitor at the Rhino booth at Optech 2021
2. Emerging tech amenities are specific to post-vaccine renters 

 While the habits of the modern renter have become less of a mystery, thanks to advanced data collection, what renters need has also drastically changed due to the pandemic. Remote work, social distancing, and city-wide shutdowns have made community-wide managed WiFi, tech-powered food amenities, smart security and environment controls, and other smart building initiatives a necessity for the modern renter as they spend more time at home.

An image of Rachel Allen and Michael Brevdah chatting with a booth visitor and splitting a cocktail at Optech 2021

For example, CEO Steven Sperry made a point during his session “Food as Amenity: Tech-enabled opportunities and risks” that “food deliveries to apartment communities increased by over 80% during COVID-19.” This has made it a challenge to organize parcel deliveries in a sanitary and safe way, leading to the emergence of tech such as temperature controlled refrigerators and full “ghost kitchens” for housing deliveries until they can be received.

3. Multifamily professionals need to address burnout before it’s too late 

As the conference began to wind down, sessions and speakers began to recenter on one major theme of the event: reducing burnout and nurturing teams to succeed in an increasingly digital landscape. Creating a “human-centered” way to lead, if you will.

An image of Suneel Gupta, entrepreneur and public speaker presenting at Optech 2021

OPTECH invited entrepreneur, best-selling author, and host Suneel Gupta who presented on burn-out and effective strategies of leading through this era of major workplace fatigue. He shared the restful strategies of executives, but talked about how important it is to prioritize your own mental health as an example to your employees. What a powerful message to close out OPTECH 2021. 

While the conference may have ended at the completion of Suneel’s incredible keynote, our sales team kept the party going. We hosted a relaxed kick-back at TopGolf, complete with food and of course, cocktails, for all OPTECH attendees who RSVPed at the Rhino booth!

An image of Cheri Barber and Michael Brevdah enjoying Topgolf at Optech 2021

All in all, we call every conference a success, but OPTECH 2021 truly revealed how technology will continue to rapidly evolve and how the multifamily industry has been forever changed by 2020. 

Much of our sales team told me how it felt necessary to be at a conference surrounded by leaders prioritizing innovation for the rental market, and that Rhino is part of the ecosystem of automation necessary to managing modern multifamily communities and companies. 

An image of the Rhino team hitting golf balls at Topgolf

Rhino understands the value of getting facetime with our prospective clients, especially in an electrifying conference atmosphere. If you missed us at OPTECH 2021, don’t sweat it, we’re going to be headed out to more conferences before the end of the year, including:

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KT Heins-Nagamoto

KT Heins-Nagamoto is a senior brand writer at Rhino. They advocate for security deposit alternatives and renter rights in everything they write.