Commercial real estate firms continue to see the value and efficiency that comes with virtual property tours even well after the pandemic and lockdown restrictions have been lifted.
Types of virtual tours vary, as do their cost and complexity, according to a new report from JLL.
The most common types of virtual tours are drone videos, live streams, pre-recorded tours, 360-degree virtual tours (usually photography), augmented and virtual reality, and story-driven marketing videos.
Players such as LCP360 and Matterport and others have perfected those models.
Looking forward, new versions will offer more interactive experiences and give the viewer more control, Will Hamilton, head of office leasing for JLL in New South Wales, Australia, said in prepared remarks.
“There’s a sliding scale of what you can spend, and you’ll be doing something different for a new central, urban development compared to a small building in a more fringe location,” he says. “There are choices, and the beauty is the technology can be applied to any sort of project.”
Sam Buckley, EVP Leasing at BentallGreenOak, tells GlobeSt.com, “At BGO, we are constantly looking to create the best space for today’s tenants and for the best tools to market that space.
“Of course, there is no substitute for an in-person tour, but platforms that allow for real-time ‘virtual’ tours are the next best thing.”
Buckley said the advantage of these platforms is the ability to conduct a guided tour through the space, with tenants and brokers who are potentially in multiple locations at the same time.
“It’s also advantageous to be able to say, ‘Hey, while I have you on the phone, do you have a minute for me to show you the space and answer some of the questions you just asked?’ ” Buckley said.
“That’s an incredibly powerful and useful technology for getting in front of brokers and tenants in a competitive marketplace.”
Jim Schoonmaker, CEO & Co-founder, Infinityy, tells GlobeSt.com that virtual experiences have finally reached a point in both quality and affordability and that there is no reason not to use them for any real estate transaction.
“I was there in the very early days of this technology and platforms such as Google street view or Matterport are truly amazing technology triumphs,” he said.
“However, the next wave of virtual experiences is going to be even more exciting. We will see the emergence of open experience platforms that combine content from any vendor and simplify the user experience.
“One size fits all virtual tours will become personalized and relate directly to the needs of the visitor and most importantly our existing solitary virtual experiences will become rich interactive group experiences that will finally achieve what only in-person tours could do before.”
More Than Half Expect It
JLL said that more than half of companies hunting for commercial space, or investors looking to buy, now expect to see a virtual tour before they commit to a physical inspection, according to virtual-tour creator Inspace.
Sixty percent of its clients now expect their first viewing to be a virtual one.
“The pandemic made people realize the value of technology for connecting people to property and how to seriously improve the user experience in a very competitive market,” says Will Hamilton, head of office leasing for JLL in New South Wales, Australia.
Websites using virtual tours are proven to get better engagement. American media agency Panomatics said they are viewed for five to 10 times longer than those without.
“The convenience factor is high, enabling a potential tenant or buyer across town or across the world to start with a long list of properties and whittle them down to a number they’ll actually visit,” Hamilton said.