2023’s Top 11 Senior Living Sales & Marketing Trends – Varsity Branding

Over 350 sales and marketing professionals from senior living organizations of all sizes across the U.S. participated in the 2023 Senior Care Marketing & Sales Summit (SMASH) in Henderson, Nevada. Two of Varsity’s roundtable participants attended the sold-out conference. In this post, Mark Hamby, Director of Resident and Family Services at Parkway Village, and Christine Hall, Senior Director of Marketing and Public Relations at Franke Tobey Jones, share with us 11 of the hottest trends that they heard about at SMASH. As you’ll see below, there have been a lot of new changes in the space since we posted about the top 10 senior living market trends during the pandemic.

  1. Occupancy has flattened out. The average occupancy across senior living in 2023 was 80%. 20% of communities are under 60% occupied, so more communities are discounting this year.
  2. AI is transforming the customer journey. Within five years, every webpage and follow-up email will be completely different for each prospect, with copy completely tailored to their interests.
  3. Prospects are aging. 20% of prospects and 25% of new residents are 90+ years old.
  4. Digital marketing is more important than ever. For all communities, 40% to 60% of leads are coming in digitally. One important feature that prospects want to see on websites is accurate, transparent pricing. Also, communities need to protect themselves from lawsuits by including HIPAA-compliant copy that assures prospects their information will not be sold.
  5. The senior living industry is underperforming. According to Forbes, senior living is the third largest industry, but is also the most underperforming. Our space is doing 9% of total business, but we should be doing closer to 19%.
  6. Adult children are shopping online at night. A huge number of adult family members are researching communities between 8 p.m. and 8 a.m. Communities should consider hiring a call center or using a chatbot to ensure customers can get initial information after hours.
  7. Speed to lead is critical. 70% of prospects will tour a community within seven days of initial contact, and during that time, sales teams complete about 10 touches. The first community to reach a lead is most likely to get the tour. Sales teams must reach out within 20 minutes to an hour, or the lead will go on to another community.
  8. Online reviews are crucial. 91% of people looking for senior living communities are using Google reviews —  the highest percentage of any industry (80% said if the community doesn’t have four stars or more, they won’t consider it).
  9. Value-select premium pricing is on the rise. Pricing of same-sized units is no longer identical. Consumers don’t want to pay as much for an apartment that looks out on a parking lot as one with a lake view.
  10. Fear of COVID-19 is still the biggest obstacle to move-ins. It’s important to educate prospects, letting them know that fewer than 1% of 800,000 residents have contracted COVID and that communities continue to strengthen their safety policies.
  11. Biggest selling tool: a welcoming atmosphere. Prospects put a huge emphasis on how they feel when they walk in to a community. A friendly, engaged atmosphere with smiling staff and residents is the best tool for closing sales.