Designing your community to turn tours into Move-ins. Are you selling a cruise ship or prison?

Do you remember the Love Boat? With Julie, Captain Stubing, Gopher, Doc & Isaac.

The theme song said it all” Exciting and New” come aboard, we're expecting you……

From the moment the passengers saw the ship they were greeted and welcomed as if the entire purpose of the cruise ship was to make the passengers in a wonderful exciting new experience, and they delivered. The passengers were greeted by kind, friendly staff that could meet their every need from housekeeping, food, activities, entertainment and even health.

On the flip side, a prison has the same services that are provided to the cruisers but the staff is not there to serve the prisoners every whim. They go out of their way to make the prisoners feel uncomfortable and trapped.

There are two differences between the experiences above. One is physical and the other is attitude.

The attitude change from positive to negative is critical, in essence letting the person feel desired and wanted and that you will move mountains to make this the best experience possible. The physical differences start from the street of the property and flow into the building and the various purpose built spaces.

Every effort needs to be made to have the architecture, landscaping, interior, signage and lighting welcome and encourage what Lance Sectretan calls “soul space”. Space that touches your soul and allows you to relax and enjoy.Most folks can’t put their finger on what creates soul space. You just know when it happens and it becomes magnetic. People are drawn to it. It has its own positive energy.

Some Key items to help you reach “Soul Space” are the following:

· Great Street signage that is well lit and easy to see in any direction announcing the building prior to making a turn.

· Landscaping – this is often overlooked, great landscaping translates into care of the environment, creativity and life.

· Covered entrance to shield from the weather coming in and out of the home.

· No interior barriers between you and the Staff when being greeted. When there are slider glass windows or buzzers this gives the impression that those on the inside are trapped once they enter, or that their clientele (like a gas station in a bad neighborhood) can’t be trusted.

· Nice music and smells – sounds simple but it’s rarely done well. Fresh Flowers are a plus!

· Protocol for how visitors are to be greeted and handled when marketing is gone, on a break or after hours. Everyone should know this and be able to put it into practice, just as all Disney workers at Disney World are Cast members and should always be aware of the part the play in the greater scheme to bring magic to those visiting Disney.

· Restrooms with open access vs. locked and some clunky key you have to ask permission for like you did from the teacher when you were in grade school. This not only embarrasses folks it says that you treat residents lower than staff and visitors.

· Activities out and about. A restaurant with few cars rarely gets more. Smaller packed spaces are always better than perceived empty dead spaces.

· Models, Models, Models – North American’s cannot visualize! That’s why we have car showrooms and more stores than you would ever think possible.

· Design techniques include providing spaces that are intergenerational and purpose built vs. general use. When you design for too much flexibility a space loses its personality. Spaces should have their own unique personality and purpose. Having several of these allows a prospect to find something that fits them vs. feeling like they are in a waiting room or a hotel lobby.

From the attitude Standpoint you need to understand where the prospective resident and their family are coming from and then address each issue. Transforming these negatives to positives all has to deal with the language you use but more than that. Actions speak louder than words.

Sell: Freedom, Safety, independence, Wellness, no burden on others, Fun, adventure, trust

Sell against: Boredom, Fear, Burden, sickness, dependence, and distrust

Guilt plays a large role in the decision making process - Don’t be embarrassed by your memory care program, celebrate it and how it improves the quality of life of the residents.

Fear: 24/7 someone is there, interior are designed specifically with non-invasive tools to get assistance 10 times quicker that if you were alone by yourself.
Independence: Everything from the bathroom designs to the handrail design and the low profile shower entries are designed to allow you to be independent.
Boredom: Purpose Built spaces such as, pub, art room, craft room, café or tea house, green house, laundry room, game room, library and bistro all provide opportunities to gather with friends and family and enjoy your favorite teams championship game, play weekly cards with the gals, take up water color like you always wanted to or just have a cup of coffee and surf the internet –
Distrust: Did I leave the stove on? Did I remember to take the blood pressure pill this morning? Questioning yourself on every little item is no way to live. Think of it like living with a personal assistant and chef! When you don’t have to worry about the little stuff it frees you up to be you and have fun. Your energy is not wasted on items that someone else can handle. From a design standpoint have a dining experience that anyone would want to eat at is critical with choices and multiple venues. Again think cruise ship design.
Individuality: At the resident doors if they are set back from the corridor walls and have an accent color, wall sconce and place for the resident to decorate there is a feeling conveyed that this is their home and they are not a guest in a hotel that is not allowed to display their individual personalities.

If folks did not care about this we would all have the same style home and interiors but we do care and we may not always be able to explain it but we express what we value in our interior spaces. We convey our own personal style. Women more than men and this are why interiors are as critical as the majority of seniors you are marketing too are women.

I would challenge you to look at every aspect of your home and see where you are a prison or a cruise ship. Better yet, ask families and residents. Happy Cruising!