''Closed until further notice'' — Smart Amenity Bookings for Hands off during COVID-19 • Smart Building Apps

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”Closed until further notice” — Smart Amenity Bookings for Hands off during COVID-19

Smart Amenity Bookings for Hands off during COVID-19

The reality that was experienced by most residents living in apartment buildings, condos & HOAs who wanted to access their pool areas, gyms, lounges, BBQ areas, tennis courts, you name it — closed down at the hands of COVID-19, leaving residents and property managers in an awkward situation.

Historically, apartment buildings, condos and HOAs provide an attractive offer for dwelling-seekers. For busy workers in bustling cities, students, single individuals & the elderly, the low-maintenance and location combined with in-house amenities can often be the main selling points when choosing where to live. Latest census data from 2016 in Canada shows that nearly 45% of the population lives in some variation of apartments and shared buildings(1) while in the United States, 54% of renters live in buildings with 2-5+ units.(2) This goes without saying, the closing of amenities in these buildings to help reduce the spread of COVID-19 was and still is a new challenge for property managers.

”Hey can you make us an app?”

In May of 2020, one of our longtime clients, a property management company that operates in Toronto and Ottawa approached us with an idea — why not develop a new app to combat the amenity problem? So we did. With their extensive feedback we created Smart Amenity Bookings to provide a tool to property managers that have to work with restrictions and safety measures. In a few short weeks, we quickly learned a lot about amenity booking and what challenges need to be solved, and elements to consider. Here is what the process looked like:

First, there’s organizing your amenities

Most buildings have multiple amenities to manage, so naturally we wanted property managers to have a simple and clean dashboard to see all their amenities in one place. We also added indicators for the number of pending bookings, approved and declined bookings

Amenities inside amenities

Now that users could create their amenities, we realized that in lots of cases, amenities need to be broken down into other amenities. The most common occurrence was the gym, where each individual machine, free weight area, stretching area, etc. had to be managed separately. Taking that into account, we made it possible to link amenities to others by selecting a parent. This way property managers were quickly able to assign each amenity to a more general category if needed. At the system level, the parent had its own set of rules and each amenity could have their rules too.

Capacity Levels — changing restrictions

As restrictions continue to be implemented and changed throughout the months, property managers have to be able to make quick changes that will keep their amenities in check. The first of which is setting capacity levels. If the regulation allow for only 10 people in your gym at once, then you can set a maximum of 10 at all times. As bookings come and go, spots open up and the system always checks to make sure the capacity is respected.

Now to take things one step further, if you want to set capacity levels for your individual amenities like each gym machine, you can also do it, and the system runs checks to ensure that your Gym level restrictions are still respected.

Booking Options & Payment

Flexibility is key when it comes to booking options, some amenities may be closed during certain time frames or only open on certain days of the week. Property managers can also enable fees for their amenities and allow the residents to complete the payment portion online.

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