Karen Kossow, Arthur Kosmider, Ken Hodges and Todd Butler speak on the Integrating Technologies panel at AIM 2015.

Bundle up to save money. Whether it’s meal deals at fast food restaurants or property management technology, bundling has been the choice for years.

Not anymore.

Today’s consumers and apartment owner/operators are choosing variety and quality over bundled products and services, according to the panelists in the Integrating Marketing Technologies session at the 2015 Apartment Internet Marketing Conference.

“The biggest issue is that our industry has this mentality of creating a walled garden,” said Arthur Kosmider, director of marketing for Peter Cooper Village and Stuyvesant Town, a Compass Rock Real Estate community. “It is not in the best interest of technology vendors to integrate with everyone. By creating an artificial barrier in the process, they’re ensuring their own survival.”

But apartment owner/operators are more interested in picking and choosing quality marketing technologies, best of breed, that they can integrate to help them maximize efficiencies and results.

“There’s nothing more refreshing than hearing a company say, ‘Here’s our product, let us know how we can customize it to fit your company,’” said Todd Butler, director of marketing technology for The Bozzuto Group. “It’s like buying un-tailored pants.”

In fact, that desire for unbundled, best-of-breed products has led Butler and The Bozzuto Group to search for technologies from other industries and countries or to develop their own custom technologies, rather than purchasing walled garden systems.

But some vendors are changing with the times, according to Ken Hodges, vice president of technology for Western National Group.

“Six years ago I tried to integrate with a property management system vendor and there was a serious effort to prevent that integration,” Hodges saud. “Finally, they did agree to integrate and it was a watered down version. Things have changed, and I think the PMS vendors have realized that they can’t be all things to all people and are more willing to integrate.”

That’s not to say that bundling is being completely eradicated. It still makes sense for some owner/operators, especially those with smaller portfolios and fewer IT resources.

“If you’re smaller, I don’t see why you would hire a developer to build something for you,” Hodges said. “Your best bet if you’re a small company is to buy something off the shelf. There’s a lot you can get from an off-the-shelf product.”

Nonetheless, the unbundling trend is taking hold and owner operators are expecting their integrated marketing technologies to run on open systems that empower them to choose and integrate best-of-breed products.

“One of my favorite words in this industry is API,” Kosmider said. “When I hear a person say yes we have an API that will work with anything you want, it makes my heart sing.”

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