Beware of fake demos: A cautionary note for apartment property managers


In this series, Respage CEO Ellen Thompson discusses the latest trends in the multifamily industry and how apartment communities can generate greater results.

Surely you are no stranger to the never ending stream of emails about new multifamily AI tools promising automated processes, and enhanced resident experiences. However, it’s becoming increasingly challenging to separate the real from the fabricated (and flat-out vaporware). 

A new lurking danger in the digital shadows is fake demos. A client of ours was recently sent to a demo site with a slick chatbot that seemed too good to be true. When we went to the site to test it ourselves, we discovered that it was. 

How did we catch the fake? Quite by accident. We asked to schedule a tour on February 29, 2024. We were told the date didn’t exist. If this had been connected to an actual client calendar, the bot would have recognized it’s a leap year. 

The rise of generative AI has made it remarkably easy to create a perfect demo that can showcase a series of interactions that seem tailor-made for your community’s needs. However, when you actually connect these systems to your property management software reality quickly sets in.

So, what’s a property operator to do? How can you separate genuine solutions from smoke and mirrors? Here are some crucial steps to take before signing a long term contract.

1. Check out real-world installations

When presented with a company’s demo of a chatbot or an AI leasing agent, don’t just take it at face value. Ask for links to at least three websites currently using the product that showcase how the tool is being used by an actual community.

2. Test Core Functionality

Once you have access to the examples, dive in and test them rigorously. Attempt to schedule a tour through the chatbot or check for real-time availability. Those two requests account for 72.6% of our AI Leasing agency’s interactions. 

Don’t get caught up if the chatbot can’t answer obscure questions. Testing a voice bot? Talk to the bot like you would speak to an actual leasing agent. Would you simply say, “Waitlist?” No. A human agent would have no idea what you were talking about. Don’t expect a bot would either. 

Also note how quickly the systems work. No one is waiting more than a second or two for your chatbot to answer them.

3. Seek References

Ask for references who have experience with the product. User reviews and testimonials can offer invaluable insights into the bot’s performance and reliability as well as the customer service experience.

4. Pilot

Nothing beats implementing your own real-world test. Verify it integrates with your own CRM and property management software. This also allows you to see how your team will use the system, and test out the training and support from the supplier. 

It doesn’t matter how great the demo works if it doesn’t fit with your team and software. So make sure it does before signing a long-term contract.

Fake AI is everywhere…

The allure of cutting-edge technology is undeniable. However, beware of fake demos and vaporware that don’t reflect the experience you’ll have in your own environment.

The next time you’re presented with a flawless demo, remember to look beyond the surface. Ask for real-world examples, put the system to the test, and seek out references. Your due diligence today will pay off tomorrow.

From the desk of Ellen Thompson, Co-founder and CEO of Respage >> Since its founding, Respage has helped over 10,000 communities attract, engage, and retain residents. Its platform assists properties in generating leads, automating leasing, and managing reputation and social media. Thompson is also the Founder of Results Repeat, a digital marketing agency that has helped hundreds of companies create a digital presence and use SEO and paid marketing to generate more business online.


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