Coming out of the pandemic, marketers have more and better tech tools to build their virtual tours either through images, video or virtual reality.
The most advanced tool is through 360-degree cameras that can capture individual apartment homes from various angles and produce a walk-able video where the prospective resident chooses their own path, rather than a pre-recorded, set video designed for the community itself.
Leading apartment operators discussed how to leverage this technology and how it’s capabilities are what the future holds in apartment marketing during “Tour Talk: Enlightening The Customer With Virtual Experiences” at the Apartment Innovation and Marketing Conference on Monday in Huntington Beach, Calif.
Sarah Chezbro, Senior Marketing Manager of Graystar Development Group; Dave Seiler, Executive Vice President of Operations at Trinity Property Consultants; and Kadi Mancuso, Director of Marketing for Redwood Capital and Redwood Residential composed the panel.
“There’s been a social shift where now all generations are comfortable with this sort of online experience and a large majority of prospective renters are not insistent on coming to the first property for a tour,” Seider said.
Mancuso said that operators must realize that even if they only have four vacant apartments, and in this current high-demand apartment-living environment, it’s critical to be able to showcase those apartment homes to out-of-state prospects or those who aren’ t ready to visit the property in person.
“A prospect might look at 20 properties before narrowing their list to the top three or four. Having high-performing and engaging video tours helps to put our community into that list of finalists,” Mancuso said.
No One Wants Just 84 Property Images
Seiler said that communities that relied mostly on images—and some had as many as 84 of the property on their websites—visitors found that to be too much. “They want to be able to take the tour and see what they want and how they want it, and this technology enables this,” he said.
“We want them to see what the pool looks like from a particular unit or where the sun rises or sets, or really, in any manner that feels right for them.”
These panelists use LCP360 technology, which is also linked to a touch tour, interactive map-based platform from Engrain so that leasing professionals can be sure to point to a specific unit to view and not just a floorplan.
When considering a 360 shoot, Chezbro said onsite teams need to put themselves in the shoes of the consumer.
“Is this the kind of tour that I’d want to experience, showing me what I’d want to see?” she said. “Maybe during virtual tours, the prospects want to turn down this hallway instead of the other (on a recorded tour) and this technology enables that.”
Preparing for a Downturn
Training onsite staff to use the technology “is critical because so many new products have different functions and are best used in certain ways, so you need your team to understand this to leverage those capabilities,” Mancuso shared.
Seiler said that as a property buyer or investor, “I have interest in communities that are not using this technology because I know that if I acquire it there’s great ‘lift’ potential for my investment.”
The apartment industry is red-hot right now, Seider added, “but we know there’s going to be a downturn eventually. There’ll be that point where we’re 88 percent occupied so it’s best to use these video tools now and capture all of our units with it so that we’re ahead of the game and can be more competitive when that time comes.”