Today, it seems like everyone wants the latest and greatest technology. Whatever seems like the flashiest and the most innovative must be the most effective, right? Take 3D virtual tours in the multifamily industry. These virtual tours for real estate properties are billed as the most up-to-date technology available and also claim to be the most impactful way to show a community to a prospective resident before they ever take a step on the property.
Today’s real estate marketers hear 3D virtual tours, 360 virtual tours, and even virtual reality left and right. A lot of buzzwords and noteworthy excitement from a technology standpoint, but, with that, comes a lot of flashy ideas that can come with unsightly price tags and meager results to boot.
Is 3D tech all it’s cracked up to be? Google Glass didn’t last. 3D TVs were around for more than 8 years now, but are officially no longer being offered by major suppliers. Even virtual reality headsets were supposed to be the next big craze, but adoption has been very slow and rather meh.
Before you dive head first into the 3D virtual tour arena, consider what’s best for your property, what your target prospective residents are really looking / asking for, and what your team really needs to do their job better or more efficiently. To help you take that step back, let’s take a look at a few ways that 3D virtual tours, and similar technology, may sound great but may not stand up to all that you thought it may be.
Expensive, Lengthy, & Limited
If you’re going to get 3D tours of your community, your option is to either purchase a very expensive camera, then spend the time getting it perfectly setup at each and every pan point throughout the unit, then upload all of the footage to be stitched together, and, finally, uploaded / embedded onto your website. Quite the process (and an expensive one at that). Your other option? Hire professional to do it. Maybe a bit of time savings and saves on a capital expense for the equipment, but the cost of hiring the professional may slant away from this option.
With all of those expenses and all of that work, the number one question that needs to be asked is “what will my ROI on this be”? If you are only capturing 3D tours of one or two of your floor plans and these 3D tours are simply going to sit on your website, will that really deliver any gained efficiencies or increase your leads generated? Will you be able to capture if and how it’s increasing your inbound leads? Speaking of one or two floor plans, good luck trying to get 3D virtual tours of every single floor plan or unit in your community. Talk about dauntingly lengthy and expensive!
A One Way Street
One of the major issues with a 3D virtual tour is that it is essentially talking AT your prospective resident, rather than being a means of conversation. Every time a prospective resident visits your site and experiences your 3D tour it will be showing them the same thing and displaying the same exact information. There is no real back and forth going on or even calls to action or a means of asking questions. That means no opportunity for the leasing agent to hone in on the things that are truly important to that prospect, no active sales conversation, and no active relationship building — unless they proactively take another step and reach out. The big question that you need to ask yourself is “what am I looking to get out of these 3D virtual tours”?
Layer on top of that the fact that 3D virtual tours typically aren’t gated content and that means if someone visits your site, clicks through the 3D tour, then does not fill out one of your forms or submit their information, then you have absolutely no information to go off of and no active lead as a result of that experience.
One of the biggest reasons that 3D virtual tours fall short with today’s prospective residents is because they lack one core, critical thing: authenticity. Ok, maybe two things: trust! Consumers are used to shopping online for almost everything today and multifamily real estate is absolutely in that mix. One of the reasons that multifamily touring has always been so reliant on in person showings though is because the only options for truly experiencing the exact unit they could be living in never told the full story or showed each individual prospect exactly what they as an individual want to see.
Before embarking on the task of ordering or creating 3D virtual tours for your community, you need to ask “what are my prospective residents looking for”? If the answer is that they’re looking for more availability to tour the community in person, then increase your hours of availability on-site. If they’re looking to simply see the exact unit they would be living in, then invest in a video leasing solution that allows your leasing team to send videos of their exact unit. There are countless ways to instill trust and transparency into your marketing and leasing process, but, for many consumers, 3D virtual tours unfortunately rarely are described as real, transparent, or authentic.
No matter how innovative the technology may seem, 3D virtual tours do have a lot of drawbacks. From price to encumbered processes to limited personalization and calls to action to an inability to instill trust, there are many things to be considered before diving in with these tours. While it is shiny tech and does a great job of providing a ‘tech-forward’ look and feel for your community and brand, we know that budgets can be tight and that every dollar counts. Make sure to ask the right questions and don’t be distracted by the shiny object. Listen to your teams, listen to your audience, and listen to your gut.
If you’d like to learn how video leasing and live video tours are differentiated from the 3D virtual tours of today, feel free to email firstname.lastname@example.org. Simplicity, affordability, personalization, trust, & transparency reign king when it comes to multifamily marketing and leasing in today’s market.
Until next time…keep it real!