How Technological Aids Can Help Co-living Platforms Grow In Smaller Cities Technology plays a very crucial role when companies want to provide a consistent experience

By Amit Dixit

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Co-living is slowly becoming popular in tier II and III cities in India. Big metropolitan cities already have many organized co-living companies operational. Many co-living companies in India are operating in many big cities and also operating in smaller cities such as Coimbatore and Hosur. As co-living companies scale their operations, it becomes very important to provide a consistent living experience to all the customers across various cities. Coliving companies focus on providing hassle-free, easy, and simple living experiences to the customers.

Technology plays a very crucial role when companies want to provide a consistent experience. Challenges faced in smaller cities are finding suitable inventory and predicting the long-term financial viability of the business. Technology's role starts from the identification of places of coliving properties. Technology helps in estimating supply-side costs by analyzing various factors such as prevailing market conditions and footfall in nearby areas. It is not very difficult to find new areas with high demand but technology is required to create more accurate and data-backed business plans. Based on various data points such as upcoming or available services around a locality, footfall in a locality, several business centers, and the number of people visiting the business centers help predict the long-term rental value of the property. It helps negotiate better long-term financial contracts which help in achieving predictability in terms of the financial performance of the real estate market. Population migration trends are being analyzed in different clusters in various cities by using technology. The Internet and smartphone revolution is driving customer behavior in smaller cities and towns in India. People are more comfortable interacting with organized co-living providers than interacting with real estate agents and landlords. Technology is helping in giving the virtual experience of the property to customers before doing any bookings. Dynamic revenue models are created with the help of technology which is helping safeguard financial interests against uncertainties. Technology helps visualize, predict and take actions at the right time.

Safety and security are becoming a key differentiating factor. As per data available, it is a major concern for our residents in smaller cities. Co-living companies are piloting fingerprint and facial recognition-based smart locks to ensure the security of our residents. Analytics and artificial intelligence are used to detect suspicious activities in real-time and a central command center monitors all alerts. Internet-of-Things devices and other automation techniques are being used to give a consistent and seamless experience across all cities. I am sure that all these facilities will help increase confidence in residents of properties managed by co-living companies.

Technology teams are making platforms that give near real-time visibility of housekeeping and other maintenance activities at the properties. There is a need for a business process automation framework to make various business processes in very little time. All these technologies are new to the rental market in smaller cities. Co-living companies are trying to sell new experiences to customers of smaller cities and also match the experience that they get in metros. The response has been great so far and people are willing to pay the price for the experience along with the real estate.

Co-living companies are also working to create vibrant communities in their co-living assets to have better resident engagement. Flexible technology platform enables the creation of activities, events, and groups of common interests on the fly by the ground staff. They are trying to give local cultural flavor which is the most important aspect in tier II and tier III cities. Another interesting technology area is related to the personalization engine which recommends the perfect roommate if customers are looking for a roommate based on common interests and other demographic details. Their focus is on serving every resident's taste and other interests by using personalization techniques.

Without trained staff, it is not possible to give consistent experience. It is challenging to train people quickly and enable them to use technology. App-based tools make it very easy for staff to learn and contribute within no time. Technology teams are considering providing tech in the local language to facilitate ground staff to help break the language barrier. Metrics and data are standardized to ensure apple to apple comparison.

Data visualization and analytics are the central pieces of giving consistent experience. Standardization of experience helps build trust among residents and this trust spreads by word of mouth. Standardization helps to keep operational costs low and technology helps in improving productivity multifold. These are the key to providing co-living accommodation at a lower cost which is the most important factor in smaller cities. Rentals in smaller cities are not as high as in metros which makes the co-living business very competitive in smaller cities. Providing a metro-like living experience at a reasonable price is helping the co-living business grow in smaller cities.

Amit Dixit

CTO, Zolo

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