As a record number of businesses shifted to remote work during the COVID-19 pandemic, entire industries had to make fundamental changes to how their everyday processes — and commercial real estate was no exception. For commercial real estate, this meant that in-person property tours were not always possible due to safety concerns; however, leases continued to expire and important decisions had to be made.
While it’s true that there’s nothing quite like experiencing a space in person, virtual tours have come a long way and serve as a practical and convenient alternative. The era of social distancing brought about by COVID-19 has made virtual tours a must-have — and we predict that they’re here to stay.
The Rise of 3D Virtual Real Estate Tours
Although photographs will always be necessary to any listing, photographs of commercial real estate can only go so far. They are intended to help attract tenants or investors to view the property in person — but what happens if an in-person tour isn’t possible? This is where virtual tours come in.
Listings with virtual tours also get more online engagement. A record number of tenants and investors are taking their real estate search online. What’s more, the average time spent looking for a space is also decreasing, meaning that it’s more important than ever to attract tenants online — and to engage them quickly. As more tenants and investors are taking their search online, utilizing technology such as virtual tours can prove to be especially beneficial.
Virtual Tours Go Next-Level
Similar to other technologies, such as video games, virtual tours have their roots in the computer gaming space, and they are developing at a rapid pace. Concepts are being learned elsewhere and applied to virtual touring technology, allowing more inclusive use of technologies such as virtual reality and 3D to help not only visualize an area, but to bring these spaces to life.
This type of innovative technology will continue to drive the market forward, supporting clients in their decision making, allowing for a more streamlined and transparent approach.
Are virtual tours a new must-have for CRE?
While it’s true that virtual tours are data-intensive, they will remain a necessity as long as there are any type of travel restrictions or limitations in place. Beyond that, we predict that the technology and convenience will effectively prove their worth, to hold a more permanent place at the CRE decision-making table.
As commercial real estate continues to become more digital and adapt with the times, people are becoming more comfortable with the new level of technology and trust it more. We predict that within the next few years, we’ll see a foundational shift in the way things are traditionally done in commercial real estate.
How to Get the Most Out of Virtual Tours
With virtual tours increasing and proving to be more than just a passing fad, you want to be sure that you are getting the most out of your virtual tour investments. Here are some best practices to keep in mind:
- Promote your virtual tours. Update your existing marketing materials to include a prominent link to your virtual tour. Better yet, create a QR code to quickly launch the virtual tour from any smart device.
- Engage with qualified prospects. Now that you have an audience of potential tenants, make sure that you’re engaging them. Offer an online chat, or host a virtual Q&A session for a specific space.
- Utilize technology to help close the deal. While physical tours will of course come back, virtual tour technology is here to stay and helps to aid in tenants’ decision-making process. Both virtual and physical tours can be used together to help create a more efficient path to lease transactions.
For more on virtual tours, or to stay informed on other commercial real estate trends, be sure to explore the RealNex Blog.