Four Takeaways from LeadingAge 2019

Nov 11, 2019

The conversations and dialogue of the conference are always incredible at LeadingAge. Here are four of our top takeaways from the week.

1. There’s an immense opportunity to apply the innovative marketing strategies of other industries to senior living

According to Erin Hayes, Chief Revenue Officer at Enquire, “We can’t do what we’ve always done…we need to get more creative.”

Erin pointed to companies like AirBnB, Under Armour and IBM as marketing powerhouses, doing big things to communicate their worth to customers. They make it about more than the product by understanding their key audiences and creating content that aligns with their values.

Transcending transaction in your marketing message also means that message can spread beyond just your direct audience to reach less obvious prospects. In other words, great messages have a network effect. Erin points out that employees have parents, and those parents are friends with other parents, and so on. Your messaging might not be directed toward your employees, but their affinity for the greater story you’re telling could make them key advocates of your brand.

It all sounds wonderful, but how can providers pull it off with their limited resources? Fran Palma, Sr, VP of Digital Strategies, Covenant Living Communities and Services, say in-house team and interns can help you create and execute new marketing strategies without spending your valuable resources.

Bonus: check out free tools like Canva to jazz up designs, Mailchimp for modernized email marketing, and Evernote to keep your efforts organized.


2. Moments of elevation enrich residents’ lives

Dan Heath gave an incredible talk on the meaning of moments in our lives, one that especially struck our CEO Ted Teele. One of our top takeaways from Dan’s keynote was to create moments of elevation.

For background, his talk was all about how peak moments are those events in our lives that we don’t forget — for better or worse. We might not remember most of our college experience aside from the first exciting month where we feel welcomed and celebrated for being there. Even so, that one positive (or negative) experience of being welcomed to the campus could dictate our memory of college — with all its ups and downs — for the rest of our lives. As Dan points out, 40% of college memories are from the month of September and they often have nothing to do with academics.

For residents, the same is true. We can create incredible moments for residents during move-in and throughout their stays to make their experience absolutely delightful. We often spend too much time obsessing over the small negative things in our lives and organizations, when we could be emphasizing the significance of all the positives and investing in creating magic moments for those people we are here to make thrive.

It also might make all the difference in a resident deciding to stay in your community. Take this survey from Belmont Village who report that residents that make no friends typically move out in 90 days or less. An even worse outcome, pointed out by Belmont’s Chief Experience Officer Tammy Marshall, is the potential for residents to stay but not thrive — “If you can’t build that feeling of connection, they will move,” Marshall told Senior Housing News. “But worse than moving out to me is failure to thrive, which is where they just live there with no desire or zest for life.”

It’s clear that investing in resident experience is paramount. Start simple — hold special life event celebrations and create welcome rituals for new guests. Feel free to share what your community does to make residents feel seen and loved – we’d love to hear all about it! Our team is currently brainstorming things we can do to connect with the residents in the communities we serve.

3. Use empathy to create more collaborative information technology teams

John Couture, Vice President of Information Technology at Lifespace Communities, manages his team with empathy. As an information tech company committed to empathy, we were all ears for John’s approach.

John points out that many IT professionals can get used to doing their jobs in a vacuum and get especially frustrated by distractions or interruptions. He approaches this issue by reminding his team that other people and departments are under just as much pressure as they are. He encourages them to think about all the problems they’re facing and consider others could be facing similar difficulties. By practicing a little bit of understanding, he shows them they can actually make their jobs easier and solve problems faster with no frustration necessary.

It’s about considering how we can help, not hinder, each other. Amazing things happen when we assume positive intent from everyone else in the organization and understand we are each working towards the same goal.

For us, that’s improving the quality of life for seniors. We try to encourage every team member to remember how their hard work will pay off for the residents who have our technology in their hands and to keep that top of mind when dealing with frustration.

4. It takes a village to build a Trail to Engagement

Winning People’s Choice Best Booth is turf… eh hem, tough. It is a testament to teamwork, creativity and the genuine drive to improve the lives of seniors. We’d rather invest in our products and solutions to add value to our partners versus an exhibition design team.

That’s why we conceptualized, designed and built our own immersive experience — a first-ever opportunity to “hike” a Trail to Engagement inside the San Diego Convention Center. LeadingAge members could see first-hand how our products work together to reduce social isolation, strengthen familial connections, better communicate with associates and help prospective residents find their perfect new home.