Monday, January 29, 2007

Take a Hint from MINI?

Did anyone see the new feature that BMW's MINI division announced last week? It's not built into the car... it's in the keyfob. Keyfobs for selected Mini owners will contain a RFID chip, which the company says can trigger a personalized message on Mini billboards from up to 500 feet away. Participating drivers fill out an online questionnaire that asks about them (including their birthday), their driving habits and their affection for their car. A company executive proclaimed the system generates "unique, playful and unexpected messages triggered by Mini owners." Interestingly, the company also says the cryptographically protected RFID tags contain no user data. At the very least, the system is supposed to know enough about a driver so that a lawyer might see a customized message reading "Moving at the speed of justice!" or a driver named Tom might trigger a message such as "Motor like you mean it, Tom!"

You might ask, why bother? Well, it's all about building community... Mini owners are fanatical about their cars, and this is just another step that the carmaker is taking to make their owners feel like part of a community.

So why do you care as a multifamily professional? Because nowhere do people want to feel more at home and feel like they're part of a community than the place where they live. It's a comfortable feeling, coming home to a place that knows you and welcomes you with open arms. And there are a number of different opportunities thoroughout a community to offer personalized experiences to make residents feel more at home... pulling into the garage, entering the building, walking through a lobby, in the elevator - all are places to touch your residents in the ways that they choose and prefer on a very regular basis. It might not be the first technology that you consider putting into your building, but in a world where customized content is quickly becoming the norm, adding an element of personalization may be worth considering.

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